28 February 2013

DONALD FRIEND 6 Feb 1915 - 16 August 1989

Splendid summary by my first local paper, the Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Of all the pictures under probate and for sale in our late mother's house in Corfu, none has been attracting more interest or appreciation than the wonderful portrait by Donald Friend of this gorgeous Balinese boy.
A truly eyecatching conversation piece in the corridors of San Luca.

  • Many people think it's the Ibaden boy, Omu.
  • My mother's travels included Bali where she met Friend and, according to her notebook of the time, was spendidly entertained by this artistic Sydney Greenstreet.
  • Sell or not to sell? Depends on the valuation and price offered, I suppose. It is currently part of a consignment of our mother's pictures being stored in the dehumidified safety of my brother's Tuscan villa as we make our joint researches through the art world.
  • The Duke of Bali - another clever dubbing, this one from Art Collector.
  • Bali VIPs
  • John Moyle in Nat Library of Australia
  • Eva Breuer ~ another dealer with an impressive line in Friend oeuvres. This is what these specialists live for ~ a collector like my mother sits on a picture like this for 60 or so years, finally passes away - and opah! Up it comes on the market. A real waiting game, isn't it? 
  • And did you see the reference on the Breuer page about 'Artworks for $6,000 and under.' I must quickly let my brother know these price ranges. 
  • Breuer blurb - note, also, their excellent informative blurb:
An extraordinary draughtsman, diarist, printmaker and painter, Donald Friend was known for his intelligence, remarkable inventiveness and pungent wit; qualities which infuse every canvas and sheet he laid his mark upon.
Friend was trained in Sydney and London, however, his proclivity for travel and the search for the exceptional and the exotic, led him to destinations as far flung as Africa, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
His vision was informed by his admiration for the satire and fantasy of artists such as S.T. Gill, Bosch and Breughel, and his acute observations of life during his years as a war artist bear comparison with the masterful drawings of Goya and Henry Moore.
Friend’s skilled portrayal of the human form, in particular the male figure, through the breathtaking quantity of drawings, watercolours, prints, and paintings owes as much to the inspiration fuelled by the study of Michelangelo and Hogarth, as his ability to delineate forms in an almost calligraphic line, mixed with a sensitivity for colour and design.
Admired by his contemporaries, including Russell Drysdale, for his outstanding flair as a colourist, his decorative sensibilities resulted from his response to the richly coloured compositions of Matisse and lavish brilliance of Byzantine art.
More recently, Friend’s talent for illustration and articulate writing may be evidenced through the publication of the artist’s diaries by the National Library of Australia.
Feedback during research : while researching possible sales outlets and accurate evaluations, I have come across a plethora of fascinating facts.
  • In London, Friend met a Nigerian, Ladipo, who became his male model and lover.
  • During World War II, Friend was appointed an Official War Artist.

  • After the war, Friend met the handsome art student Colin Brown. Friend wrote in his diary, "My whole life is Colin. Not particularly Colin himself, but my love and appreciation and desire for the Colins of this world and my life."
  • In Italy, Friend fell in love with a model called Attilio Guarracino, whom he brought back to Australia.
  • Once more in London, Friend made figure drawings of a young Ibaden boy called Omu. [I wonder if this is the lad in our sketch?]
  • In Bali, Friend gained fame as an expatriate artist. Much of his art represents relationships with boys, 'some of whom remained as life-long friends'.
  • Friend wrote several books. The original manuscripts are archived in the major museums of Australia and in important private collections.
  • Friend wrote: "The artist is making a confession of his inner being, so he is really making a confession about himself.
I really think that when you see a painting which expresses absolutely nothing of the artist, then you can be certain that it is a very bad painting.
There are lots of bad paintings around. If you paint a wonderful picture, then you have put yourself into it!"
  • According to BaliBlog (Important People in Bali: Donald Friend Bali Blog):
"Friend was essentially a pagan, bereft of any sense of sin or guilt, reveling in sensuality and colour, and making no attempt to disguise the homo-eroticism which underlay much of his work - which makes the more surprising the fact that he won the Blake Prize for religious art in 1955.
"Nor did he mince words about his attractions, depicting himself in his journal as 'a middle-aged pederast who’s going to seed'.
His relationships consisted in large part of a series of relations with adolescent boys, some of whom remained as life-long friends, particularly Attilio Guarracino and others who merely fleeced the artist for whom they had modeled."
  • John Moyle has an article about the Bali lifestyle of Donald Friend:"There was also nothing unusual in a gay man living in the community, as there had already been a long tradition of homosexual artists taking up residence in Bali.
"Known locally as ‘The Group’, artists such as Walter Spies, Rudolf Bonnet and Auke Sonnega were to exist there for long periods, living a thin line between acceptance and scandal.
In the 1930s, Bali was known in gay circles as a place tolerant to gay lifestyle and where a little money could buy a grand lifestyle.
"While Balinese culture does not officially recognise gays as a separate lifestyle, they do recognise that sexuality is fluid and manifests itself in many forms. This tolerance was historically evident in the Indo Malay courts of Java."


Also for sale
  • Two splendid Kyffin Willamses as well as some smaller work by the late Welsh genius. Also a friend of my mother's and clearly a prolific writer: in my tidying up of my mother's affairs, I keep coming across letters in Kyffin's distinctive bold hand.
  • Prints of John Piper, Eric Kennington, Michael Ayrton.

27 February 2013


DONALD FRIEND ~ blog to flog.

An Australian painter who lived on Bali for a while. My late mother bought this wonderful painting off him.

Now the estate is going thru the slow process of probate, including trying to put a price on the Friend.

Savill Galleries ~ speaking of blogging and flogging, hark at this encouraging pitch from the Friend-centric types at Savill.
They boast of "a comprehensive collection of Donald Friend's work."
To boot, the Gallery, "will consider the purchase of authentic Donald Friend paintings and drawings held in public and private collections." 


Excellent article. Some witty jabs. Should be left in every waterhole raound estuary-accented Sidaravi.

25 February 2013


Latest Facebook post for Tuesday's photos.

My captions self-explanatory.

"Sad, if only as indication of how brutalised I've become since March 2006 when I arrived in Corfu to perform the job of Caregiver for my mother.

It lasted thru to December 2012 when she became too bedridden to work in the garden, and I escaped the appalling grind of under-hobbyist, and I took her a tray in bed and escaped the terrible dementia repeatia that made meals such torture. Often including gardenry repeatia, double hell.

I'm wading thru the contents of the house, ruthless discarding, and I must have come across this sketch I made and sent when I was 16 of crossed guitars.

My mother brilliantly turned it into a printer plate for cards.

She must have kept it all these 50 years; so sad that the final 6 years' caregrovelgardenry reduced the memory to naught.

Ironic. It must have slipped from the rubbish bag. 

I saw it as I was about to drive away, snapped it to ram home the irony, then dropped it in the roobish.

24 February 2013



  • Very good news. The story lives on.
  • Images 'purporting' to be of Venables or Thompson appeared online ... and were subsequently removed ... "More than one police force is now involved in the investigation."
  • Fuck the 'subsequently removed', fuck the pathetic 'worldwide injunction in place which prevents the publication of any images or information purporting to identify anyone as Jon Venables.' 
  • These chaps have stayed hidden for a ridiculous length of time; the Neterati should be ashamed itself.
  • 'More than one police force now involved' is good and even better if they're foreign police ~ they know how to leak and tweak out there, soon have their scent and the hounds a-bay.
  • "Unprecedented court order banning publication of any information which could lead to the revelation of their new identities" - that's exactly what the Internet is here for, to screw with and make mockery. Instead, we're the ones with egg on our faces and VenTo still stomping around.
Bulger basher on the run.

  • "The terms of the order mean that if a picture claims to be of Venables or Thompson, even if it is not actually them, there will be a breach of the order." Yes yes, but it'll keep the story alive and so much the better if it is not actually one of the Bulger biffers: remember the paediatricians hounded to misery in the flame-haired temptress's paedo-hunt? Bags of publicity, just when the story was flagging.

The public doesn't care as long as there's blood on the sand and an honest man swinging in the breeze.

What we need is a Private Eye-style comp: some innocent worthy on the left, one of the Bulger bashers on the right, and the captions reversed.

The Attorney General.

Attorney General bewigged.

Contempt of court ... "is essentially interfering with the administration of justice. This offence can be committed in a number of ways, but will result in justice not being properly carried out.Someone who is found to be guilty of contempt is said to have disobeyed or been disrespectful to the court's authority.An example of contempt includes revealing somebody's identity that had been protected by the courts, such as a high profile celebrity who may have obtained an injunction to prevent stories being published about them.Other examples include a member of a jury telling others of what was said during deliberations, or an organisation publishing information which could prejudice the jury in a trial.Anybody found guilty of contempt of court may be sent to prison."


This blog is wayy too serious and botanophobe.

I need to include gems like Fallon and First Lady busting some moves.

  • Speaking of Fallon, hot damn he makes a cute mom. I remember this boy at prep' school - Heath - he had a single mum come visit him on Exeats and she looked so homely and desirable, bit like Jimmy here. I used to watch her from the changing rooms as she parked and Heath used to run up and hug her. 
  • I mean, c'mon - let's hear it for the First Lady. Right? Good on her. I bet there were some starchies in the White House looked askance. 

23 February 2013



Sad confirmation from AN, "It seems the Athens News has come to an end." I was clinging to hope.

If anyone wants to contact the excellent Damian Mac Con Uladh on a personal matter, I have his home email. RIP.


Ask not about whom the hobbyist scribbles.
Lovely catch-up natter with visiting pal, the commotion recollected in tranquility.

Drinkies this evening with le tout corfou and I am going along as her guest. Also attending is a pompous skula simperer who fell foul of me at a party oop 't Nisaki way when she berated me for describing gardenry as one of the selfish hobbies of our time.

The cow corrected me on my neologism 'gardenry' but I corrected her by explaining that it was my umbrella term for the whole dreary gardening experience as suffered by non-hobbyists:

  • the actual physical treadmill
  • the gab gab blah f***ing blah that goes with it, oft conducted in mixed company, no permission requested if they may bore the table, often proceeding to hog the meal.
  • the farcical charade of 'misplacing' tools, tripping tumbling cutting bruising scraping ...
  • la-di-dah lending and borrowing of books, rarely read, never returned.

But I'm rambling and boring myself and not getting to the core of the post.

  • I dispute gardenry's right to intrude so. She points to the vase on the table and asks, "And you don't enjoy that flower?" Me: Indifferent, but that is not gardening. The fruit of, maybe, but not the drear and torture for the non-gardener hobbyist of slogging.
  • "So what is your hobby?", as if omfg, if you havent got gardening what have you got? 
  • They're listening and my mother is looking away because she knows the selfishness she imposes.
  • I mention my guitar playing - but I dont ask anyone to change my strings or keep the Ovation tunèd - my blogging and general surfery - but I don't ask anyone to check for dud links or look up how to make î (alt-0238, if you're wondering) 
  • "I also like to write. Stories. Take an idea and wrestle it into words."
Fat booming bovine bully.
And she says to me, my visitor and gently mocking comforter: "And all the time you were getting material for your stories."
Hadn't thought of it that way.

Oh do look at that photo up there, all me, at Villa Thefti. How amusing to have one of me with Ovation, Fender, and the 'lectric axe.

Gorgeous day. Walked us round the jardin, Sam panting and peeing and sprinting - then curry lunch at Noah's Caff, chapatis and northern accents. Every fifth man who entered, his eyes lit up and over he'd come for a big smooch.

"Have you had them all?" I ask with petulant moue.

"Let me see ..."


Niko is on at the 02 ce soir and she can make it. Might. So I go easy on the sauce and we drive home, where she grabs the puter and checks her email.

21 February 2013


I used to keep a list of pastimes pinned up for when simpering gardeners came round and acted as if my mother's hobby was something special and everything was meant to stop.

"It's just fucking hobby," I'd say - making a point of leaving the tea things in the kitchen for them to do with what they will.

"So it's a hobby that's got wayy too fucking big for its boots, but it's still a hobby. A pastime, how one passes ones time when one has the time to pass."

I'd shove the list in their faces and ask them to name the hobbies about which they themselves felt luke-warm or resented having shoved in their faces by fanatic pals.

"That," I would tell them, "is me and your gardenry hobby."

I loved leaving the tea things in the kitchen, everything cooling and staling and wasping and wilting while they swanned about and tittered and tottered and minced and made obeisance to my garden-gabbing mother.

Can you see a more selfish hobby down there? I used to ask the simperers to point out a more selfish hobby that thrust itself on strangers with no thought of asking permission first or setting a time limit on how much of a friendly cosy dinner it would spoil.

They never could come up with an worse time waster and I would sometimes point out the gaps in the book case where I risen from the kitchen table and ripped pages from the left-hand bookshelf to keep myself from snatching up a meat cleaver and ending once and for all the appalling dementia repeatia blah blah fah blucking flahr.

RIP ~ I still toss and tatter when the memory stirs. 'Recollected in tranquility', I explain to any horrified guest: Ripped In Peace.


Arts / Crafts


Electronic Games



20 February 2013


  • my current wry fave
  • been sending it to all my toughie broads and they all like like it.
  • write-up
  • the fall
  • open


Filthy day, all the nicer of pals over from the Big Smoke to pop in and check up on me. 

Inevitable that the chat moved to the 'difficult' days, during which they were bastions of comfort and vocal challengers of much of my treatment.

Interesting how tidbits creep out as time passes: we stood overlooking the garden, such as it is, and then they asked to walk around so i left them to it and made tea and laid out the Peek Freens and lemon curd sarnies.

On their return and around the fire, one of them commented sympathetically on the vile gardenry that was one of the hardest to take of my servitudes.

"You'd escaped from another of her rambling repetitions and she suddenly assured us that she never humbled you by making you garden in front of others.
 'But what about the humiliation in himself? The grinding down of his own self-respect and the shame in his own mind?'

I don't think it even occurred to her and she changed the subject."


Tireless Steve Ford about to embark on the next stage and is spoiling us rotten by asking us which favourite village we'd like considered.

The generous fool - he'll be swamped. If it was my call I'd go ahead with my own choices, bring the book out and tell the punters "That's yer lot. Like it or lump it."

Seriously, Steve has proved himself a real friend of Corfu.

"I have made a shortlist of the villages to be visited for part 2 of the Corfu villages ebook.
    Part 2 will be about the villages in    the North of the Island.

   If you think your favourite village should be in the next edition, then please post here. Tell me what village and why?"

18 February 2013

H Komissa tis Kerkyras

That Professore Potts!

You really should check him out.

I know I gush about him as my kind of dry academic but that boy puts out some cool music.

Check out his website, then Maria Strani-Potts.

(Actually, I prefer her Quilty page, but focus groups say 'quilt' is a no-no so what I do know?)

No, do Maria and skip Jimbo. When you meet Jim go like 'Love your page.'.

He's a polite white bo', like me, will bend with gratitude and blush, but never ask 'But didn't you think the A7 was a bit obvious in the 4th verse of 'Zagori Rag'??'

  • Fotis Metaksopoulos - Nantia Fontana et ballet.
  • Music: George Katsaros
  • Lead prancer: Fotis M.
  • Wait til 2' 17 - that Fender head-board shape.
  • Had my pool built to that design, where the pegs are, little outlets for mum's pot plants. 
Erratum: See now why you need a dry academic on the Bigsby? John Lee woulda settled for "Yo, water boy, close nuff" but not lanky Jim outta Dorsetshyre, he just nails it:

"Speedy Gonzales! In fact the composer is George Katsaros (YouTube made a mistake).
Those were the days! Ask Theresa Nicholas, I hope you've read her book "Suntouched, A Dark Comedy on a Greek Island", Pen Press, 2011."

Getting the plugs in, too, publisher 'n' all.


Whoo hoo! My kind of post. loony but concise.

  • Sleepless white night, half nightmaring about DEH cutting off my elecvtricity.

  • Phoned London pal to discuss lodgings if/when I go over but ended up sidetracked discussing explanation of 'surprised and shocked' and leaving it to the legal beagles here and in UK who drafted the oath.

  • Tried to get back into rented DVD of Source Code but could not get my head round it and conscience pricking about delaying on sorting contents of house for dumping/donating/selling/pricing on net/offering to pals ... all a bit overwhelming.
  • Took pity on Sam and walked him in the drizzle which he loved, sniffing and cocking. 
  • Gunshots which reminded me of Grapevine alert about a hunter shooting 'horizontally' which reminded me to keep the gates closed against this outbreak of robberies.
  • Back inside and video still playing, no less comprehensible but pretty-boy Jake Gyllenhaal looking even more like Zach Works' less grizzled younger brother.
  • Vera Farmiga mis-cast but hot as ever. Made note to take out that Clooney/Vera flick where they meet as seasoned travelers and he looks her up and finds she has a family etc.
  • Freezin' fingers but give the guitar a strum which grounds me a bit. Wonderful acoustics in the hall and I strum rather than pick 'View of the Cross', mis-remember the chord change to the 'Gethsemane' and go to a F# minor which absolutely fits, as most of my 'wrong' chords do.
  • Switch from DVD to news that tells me Mindy McReady is dead of self-inflicted. Who she? I Youtube Guys do it all the time but none the wiser or impressed.  
  • Write shopping list and remember brown sugar cubes and bayonet light bulbs.
  • Light fire for Sam and Koutsi and check email which prompts me to pour a Bloody Mary which leads to cigs whose butts I empty into plastic bag. Set fire to bag with careless ember. Dunk smoking bag in rain-filled barrel which makes Sam think there's another walk so I take him round down by the pool and slippery rock-hemmed path at the north-east garden patch. One day I'll slip and bash head and not be found for 3 days.
  • Return to warmth and pep up BM.
  • Email from on-off-off-off lunch date asking if she dropped an ear-ring. I know exactly where and there indeed it is, call her up and go thru ridiculous maneuvrings to return it without actually having to meet. Reminds me of those health freaks who can't touch anything and if they do have to wash themselves in scalding water to cleanse it off. 
  • By now woozy with wodka and lie down with Sam to warm each other.
  • Totally failed to plonk fotos accurately within post.   

16 February 2013


Comes a time of day when a man's had enough of taking care of online pensionry business, and all that shock and awe business of  name changery ... and just wants to take care of BUSINESS ~ lawd have merceh, know what i mean?

Little Jimmy Potts - he's your main man,
come to save your soul,
got plants and herbs and medicines
And he got rock n roll.
That cat's the blues doctor,
Come to save our lives,
Capo on the 3rd, Augmented 7th for the wives.

15 February 2013


My Mouzakitis post has replaced my Jimmy Bulger obsession and I check daily for suitable additional entries.

  • Treat All Missing Children the Same!
  • Thinking of all children is a corker of a page - and Team McCann really has its shit together in terms of plugging every gap for possible publicity and feeding the newshounds what it takes to give this legs.
  • There was even a local Grapevine skirmish when the Mouzakitis story was momentarily high-jacked for a Maddie McCann plug.
  • Scroll down for the Mouzakitis poster and note also that Christopher Dorner features - prolly not for long now that he daid and the authorities fried the place.

14 February 2013


My mother had exquisite taste and an eye for beauty, so the house was full of the right things in the right place.

I'm thinking of the shells she dotted round the place, as conversation pieces, to beguile the eye - and generally fill boring spaces. 

These most beautiful conversation pieces are now, alas, dumpster bound and will find their final resting place in the next dry day  in the local rubbish tips and gutters outside the de Bono hotel. 

Sic transit and all that, and down with thievery.

They usefully filled a gap during one of our discussions and dissections of the team-theft of the girls' personal jewelry when I wanted to share a rare perspective of the contempt that wells up when very first confronting filcheurs one has caught red-handed stealing a precious possession - in this case, all my precious jewelry bequeathed to the girls.

I confessed that, as I climbed the Villa Thefti stairs to where they both sat in my brother's work study,  I wasn't  actually sure how I would feel or react.

That wonderful quote from a pal when I first informed her that my jewel box had been snaffled in toto and taken to Italy:

"Oh good God, can you imagine how far down the moral sewer you would have to swill to find a double act like that.
What a piece of work!"   

Those succinct words resonate with everyone.

Interesting, but to understand my reaction, you would have to have been there, seen the cake-mouth contortions of guilt and self-disgust.

I tell you, as I gazed on them ... all moral stature and standing drained from their every guilty twitch and pore. 

Almost a vacuum in ones very bowels. In that instant, all interest or curiosity in anything they have to sell simply gurgles down the toilet. 

Naturally, this explanation provoked a torrent of gyaku gire and hurling of the nearest foodstuffs/utensils at  hand - then I hit on the wheeze of using my mother's shells to ram home the point.

I asked her to imagine a visit by her simpering lawn-and-lorgnette brigade, and to picture one of them hefting her handbag to take her leave and one of the house's precious shapely shells tumbling forth from a side pocket and crashing to the marble before all eyes. 

That seemed to bring home the level of disgust and disgrace attached to the jewels heist. 

Having found the right example and parallel, my memory segued to that dinner when maman was excitedly declaring that she didn't think she knew an UN-nice gardener, and me churlishly chirping in  that I didn't see what was so nice about thieving. 

People must have got the hang of the story by then because I recall one or two discreet snorts of mirth - by the Pilfering of Perseus! Is there another hobby as over-size for its boots and over-weening in its arrogant assumptions.

I thought the image a rather good one, of one of their precious gardening pals behaving like 'family' - and, as I pointed out to my mother, benefited from visual cues partout