If you find summer in the sun a bit too challenging, there are lots of other ways to get a good dose of the season.
From George Gershwin’s classic Summertime to the Vance and Lockriss hit, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (yes, you’ll be whistling that for the rest of the day), some of the cooler sounds of summer are here for you to enjoy at home. Just pull up a deck chair, slap on the sunscreen and away you go.
This lovely history of Australians at the beach is full of charming quotes and reminiscences, such as this surprising one on early surfing culture: “By sheer weight, the old boards pinned their owners to a particular beach. In Victoria, Ainslie (‘Sprint’) Walker, a Sydneysider who founded the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club, used to bury his board in the sand during the seasons he surfed at Portsea. He’d leave it as long as six months, digging it up the next summer.”
Some more music to enjoy at home. Summer has proved quite inspirational to composers over the years and this delightful compilation of classical hits includes not just well worn (aka beaten to death) hits such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but also works like Vaughan Williams’ enchanting Lark Ascending, Elgar’s Italy-inspired In the South and a host of other languid and/or sunny pieces by composers as diverse as Beethoven, de Falla, Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Piazzolla, Berg, etc., etc.; I think something cool and refreshing on the terrace for this one.
Photographer and writer John Witzig did as much as anybody to capture and enshrine the great days of Australian surfing and beach culture in the 1960s and 70s, and this delightful survey of his work really throws us back into an era that now seems like another world. As Mark Cherry writes in his introduction: “He roamed surfing’s physical and spiritual map, restlessly soaking up the minutiae. With his curiosity and sense of history he chose photographic images to represent a surfing zeitgeist that was so unconscious that it barely had a language. Things were happening and words were not enough. Surfing only had a few meaningful translators then and Witzig was one of them.”
Whether or not Australian painting “came-of-age” with the Heidelberg School can be fought out elsewhere, but as this beautiful and informative volume makes clear it certainly brought a whole new intensity to the way in which our unique landscape was represented. This lovely quote from Charles Conder writing from Montmartre to Tom Roberts in 1890 beautifully sums up what must have been a golden time: “I feel more than sorry that those days are over, because nothing can exceed the pleasures of that last summer, when I fancy all us of lost the ‘Ego’ somewhat of our natures in looking at what was Nature’s best art and ideality. Give me one summer again with yourself and Streeton – the same long evenings, songs, dirty plates, and last pink skies. But these things don’t happen, do they? And what’s gone is over.”
And for those of you not yet acquainted with “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, the single greatest use of a pop song in a movie, ever.