All of us have favourite books we re-read time and again. These books are places where one can hide, rest and imagine different lives, different times. They have a familiar feel to them, they smell  just right and as soon as the words scroll by one is displaced and captivated.

They allow us to return to times in our lives long thought lost by recapturing vivid memories and associations we had at the time of reading them for the first, the second, the tenth time.

I, myself, have five such books. I will re-read them from time to time. I am drawn to the stories they reveal, the emotions they conjure deep within me. I am happy when I read them, content. I am transported, changed, as each reading will reveal a new detail or a forgotten connection, triggering dormant sections of my mind.

These books are, in no particular order, Healer by F. Paul Wilson, Tuf Voyaging by George R R Martin (written well before his GoT fame), What Mad Universe by Frederic Brown, Hurra, wir leben noch and Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein, both by Johannes Mario Simmel, and, I fear, not translated into English.

The books by Simmel have the added advantage of purportedly being true stories. Simmel chronicled the events of both books, taking the point of view of the respective protagonists, Jakob Formann (not his real name), a self-made industrialist in post-war Europe, and Thomas Lieven (not his real name), whose story is too unbelievable not to be true.

The other three works are all Science Fiction, but Science Fiction with a decidedly human bend. A man displaced into an alternate reality, similar but maddeningly different from his. It is all he can do to stay alive. Another man unwittingly sharing his body with a second, invading mind, whose consciousness reaches down to the cellular level, leading to inevitable immortality and all its trappings. The final man, not so much a man, but a stylised symbol of a man, stilted, exceedingly well-spoken, philanthropic, fragile and omnipotent – an itinerant merchant without a sense for business in the possession of one of the most powerful weapons ever dreamed up by Science Fiction.

I am not entirely sure what these books say about me, but they are my favourites such as they are. I would take them on a one-way-trip to Mars, pack them in my steamer trunk as I set out to the Paleolithic and strap them to my chest as I tumble down the Einstein-Rosen bridge.

I have learned (and still am), upon reflection, much and more from those books. Mostly how to deal with the unexpected, the shocking, the new and frightening. All the protagonists are anti-heroes, they are all flawed, they are all, in the end, completely dependent upon their own wits and ingenuity to survive and carry on another day.

Maybe you can look at your favourite books anew and ask yourself what they say about you.

Cocktails at the Raffles hotel in Singapore – life could be worse – but I do miss their coctail range from 4 years ago – dry ice added a nice bit of theater to a relaxing afternoon of indulgence.

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These pics were taken on a recent family/friends trip to Singapore. Love that city and love the Raffles hotel.The cocktail list from 4 years ago was better though. If you have the time visit the Long Bar, where, according to legend the last tiger in Singapore was shot and the Writer’s Bar, where they have a sublime selection of scotches.

Lunch in Singapore at Ku De Ta on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel on a recent trip with friends and family.

The images immediately below this text are of the most expensive beef – kobe – you can buy. I will not tell you how much it was – only that it was worth it. Texture, marbling and flavour were exquisite.

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Food, Glorious Food – Bazaar Beer Cafe – Bohemian food in a little Hungarian place in St Leonards. Good eats with some good friends.

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The food was rich and delicious. Not health food by any stretch of the imagination. Enjoy the food, enjoy the beer, do not count calories.

Food blogging – Chur Burger


My brother and I occasionally go out for dinner and have decided to review our respective experiences. So, in a nutshell, one meal, two points of view. You can find his blog at:

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Without further ado, we bring you Chur burger in Surry Hills, Sydney.

The pictures above do the food justice – pure deliciousness.

We were lining up – waited 15 minutes – really? For a Burger?

The clientage is largely Asian, and 20 years younger than me, reflecting the general neighbourhood demographic.

Finally seated, we overlook the magnificence that is Surry Hills.


Muzak is thumping in a neverending blend of bass and fragments of melody – while conversation acquits itself well in the competition to achieve maximum cacophony. Smells are wafting through the humid air in not at all unpleasant profusion – the juxtaposition of auditory and olfactory pleasure/pains is not lost on this humble scribe.

The menu is simple, with a burger of every carnivorous variety as well as vegetarian options. The chips are crunchy and the burgers a delightful explosion of flavours. I myself enjoyed the pulled pork – a revelation if you go in for that sort of thing. We also ordered coleslaw and the iceberg salad – slightly too salty for my taste.

Which brings me to the drinks – a variety of up market soft drinks, shakes and beers, something for everyone.

All in all, I highly recommend the Chur to all burger enthusiasts – you will not be disappointed, but if you want to avoid a queue, go early.