Dining Ballart: Irish Murphy’s — and a detour via Death at the comic shop

dinner at irish murphy's ballarat

Dinner at Irish Murphy’s Ballarat

We ducked into Irish Murphy’s to escape the antarctic gale sweeping down Ballarat’s Sturt Street last night, and what a warm encounter it turned out to be.

Through the swinging doors of the airlock, through the public bar and into the restaurant, where the staff were welcoming indeed. Tucked into a cosy booth, we enjoyed an early dinner: lamb shanks ($25), bangers and mash ($20), and for me, roast beef with veg ($21).

Massive serves — dessert was just never going to happen. Tasty tucker. And while the strips of beef were a little chewy, the roast taters were the best I’ve had in eons. I was only half joking when I said next time I’d be ordering just a plate of them! Washed down with a glass of Pepperjack shiraz: spot on for a blustery day.

Old signs and display windows of bottles add to the brick-n-timber ambience. Getting there early was a bonus.

Another keeper!

Death figurine from SandmanEarlier, guided by a friend, our trip to town netted a joint housewarming present to ourselves: an absolutely stunning figure of Death, from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman books. Safe to say, we’ll be back to visit the wonderfully laid out Heroes HQ comic shop, occupying the rooms of a building forming part of a former military base.

So far, Ballaratia: all good!

Ready, steady, go … some Tuesday Therapy for the new year

The calendar is flipped, the clock is ticking. Welcome to 2012.

Back in the year just gone, Lisa Hannett was canvassing for inspirational sayings of a writerly bent for her Tuesday Therapy. I came up with a mere word, which Lisa has just published at her blog.

Here, gathered sweaty and very non-new yearly limp around the water cooler — not much vim and vigour in the high 30s, I’m afraid, new year or no — the word, perseverance, sparked a discussion about the subtle difference between it and persistence; a degree of resistance to be overcome in one, an inner spring of tenacity in the other. It probably comes down to how you approach your writing challenges. The main point being, that you keep going.

Of course, what I *could* and possibly *should* have sent Lisa was my favourite quote — I don’t know why it didn’t jump immediately to mind, it wasn’t even outrageously hot at the time; and yes, I am also shite at witty rejoinders. So here’s a bonus Tuesday Therapy and a rather timely one for this time of year, all those blank squares on the calendar, scribbled resolutions and what not:

sandman's death

It is Neil Gaiman’s Death and a wonderful saying that I’ve taken to heart, ever since I first saw the motif on a t-shirt. It speaks for itself.

Tick, tock.

Dragons, love and lights that shine after the final sunset: vale Anne McCaffrey

Awoke to the news that Anne McCaffrey has died, aged 85, and I imagine all around the world readers are looking up and waiting to see if any dragonriders take flight to stave off the threads of dark the news has struck. Of her books I’ve read, from her famous Pern universe, one passage still rings clear, in which and a boy and a girl meet and fall instantly in love, and the narrator tells us there are two kinds of love, the one that creeps with time and subtlety and comfort, and this second one, the lightning bolt. Oh, yes.

No doubt McCaffrey’s words linger still in the minds and hearts of her fans, and will continue to do so as long as those words are available, for generations to come. We will always have dragonriders to stave off the dark.

Fly safe.

Vale Sara Douglass

Australia lost an influential writer today, when the writer known as Sara Douglass died from ovarian cancer. Douglass, 54, was at the sharp end of the Australian industry, the first Australian signed to HarperCollins imprint Voyager, in 1995; her Battleaxe series has won her a legion of fans. Her most recent novel, The Devil’s Diadem, came out earlier this year; a collection of short stories is due out later this year through Ticonderoga Publications.

Douglass was open about her cancer, and her comments about it and the way our society deals with death made a strong impact on me when she first blogged them. I would highly recommend that post, The Silence of the Dying, to you, and further direct you to Alan Baxter’s response to the news of Douglass’s death, which mirrors my own feelings with simple eloquence.

Douglass leaves not only lives she has touched and an enviable written legacy, but a message that deserves to be heard.

An addition…

Karen Brooks, a long-time friend of Douglass who has recently been treated for cancer herself, posted this beautiful obituary at the Voyager blog that gives some insight into the person behind the name.