Sunday, 30 November 2014

At the cinema and other musings

The other day  I went to see the film My Old Lady. It was well reviewed, but wrongly.  In my view it was pretentious crap. Do not bother going to see it. At least I did not have to pay for it, as I had a complimentary ticket.

Much more enjoyable was watching the state election in Victoria. The Australian Labor Party won. It was for me a most enjoyable night. The New South Wales paper this morning did not see fit to give sny report of the election until Page 9, and then a fairly cursory report. The wonders of a federal system mean you do not have to take sny notice of most of the rest of the country. Unless, of course, it concerns sport. The papers have been far more concerned over the death of a very good cricketer, who was struck  on the head or neck by a very fast ball. 

Now I do find this a tragic event, but cannot help thinking that in a game where the object is to bowl a very hard ball as fast and threateningly as possible, then the possibility of a batsman being injured must be quite high. And it makes me think of the Bodyline bowling in the past where the whole idea was to aim the ball, bowled with as much speed as was possible, in a way that was extremely dangerous to the batsman. And here we are again.

I regret to admit that I am not very trendy. Carve my name with  Pride.  My type of person is doomed. Evolution will ensure that I, and others like me, are doomed to extinction. But in the meantime, I am chortling with glee because the seemingly inevitable demise of me, and others of my ilk, may perhaps be deferred for some little time.


Sunday, 23 November 2014


Trying to atone for cooking  failures, this morning my grandson and I made bolognese sauce. I have not tasted it should  but it should be quite a good brew, and should provide my daughter and family with a few meals. They need to acquire some plastic containers in order to freeze it.  We enjoy cooking together.

My poor daughter's mouth and tongue are very sore and sensitive, and will take some time to heal.  Her partner has been, and is, splendid.

Apart from some tidying, the cooking (of variable quality, thanks to the oven being, well, how shall I put it? Unreliable and unsatisfactory. Making bolognese sauce is much more satisfactory. I have pulled out some weeds, gone to the shops for provisions a few times, helped collect my grandchildren after school, albeit getting lost the first day, but have not done a great deal, except try and give comfort and support.

It is my grandson's 13th birthday tomorrow, but it has not been possible to shop for him, so the present is cash.

The children had spell -a- thons this week, so I spent some time hearing their spelling. I made them spell every word several times, and we laughed a lot. They both got full scores, so they, and all the adults, especially me, feel pretty damn well pleased with our efforts. Just as well spellathon was not on the list if words. The children had to spell it for me!

Apart from the caring for my daughter and family, I had the enormous pleasure of recontacting a friend. We were at school together for the whole twelve years, our parents were friends too. What with my having moved so far away, we gradually lost regular contact  but I telephoned her, and I met her and her husband for dinner. What a good night it was. It was as though the intervening years had vanished, and the essential love and glow of our friendship shines strongly. What joy.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Corporate works of mercy

Now that is an expression not commonly heard now, but which was common parlance when I was growing up. I am  in Melbourne, spending most of my time with my second daughter, the racing photographer. She had a tumour in her tongue removed just before I left for my overseas trip, and is now completing the radiotherapy treatment. She finishes tomorrow, and then will recover gradually.

Radiotherapy is not much fun, especially around your head. The hospital staff seem excellent and are doing their best and everything possible to minimise and alleviate all the side effects. It will take my daughter some time to bounce back.  Her partner is caring for her and the children very lovingly and effectively, and it is good to see her in a such a good relationship, so different from the one she left behind some years ago. Her sister has been making soup and providing food for all and has been a great support.  Their father is here too and lots of relations.  Her friends have been great too. But my heart is sore. Watching family endure such things is difficult.

I made a cake yesterday but have a nasty suspicion I used plain flour instead of self raising.  Must try harder, and have another go. Finding things in other people's kitchen is not easy. My grandson turns 13 on Monday, which is the day I fly home.

 It is interesting being in Victoria, which feels very different from Sydney. There is a state election in another week, which may result in a change of government. I am not familiar enough with the politics of the State to make any prediction. The main Melbourne paper is so much better than Sydney's, and gives are far more extensive and thoughtful coverage of events.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The past resurgent

 There was an obituary in today's paper, for Ida Elizabeth Jenkins. The nsme rang a bell. She had been one of the people involved in the Australian Broadcasting Commission's programme for children, The Argonauts. This took me back to my increasingly vague memories of my childhood.
I used to listen to it, although not very attentatively. And I was never an Argonaut. Nor did I ever really cotton on to it. This, of course was in the immediate post war days, long before television.

Being a bookaholic, I buy books here and there, both new and second hand. And a book I picked up, most likely at the local market, was a book on the story of the Argonauts.  It is a rattling good read, and an important, but quite possibly almost forgotten, part of Australian cultural and social history. All sorts of people were involved in The Argonauts. Ruth Park, scratching out a living, with her husband Darcy Niland. And Barry Humphries was an Argonaut. Although, did he live up to its promise?

Intermittently, while I read this book, I seethe and fume, because our hideous and lousy government is inflicting further cuts on the ABC's budget, so that we all will think one way. Thoughts of Chairman Mao, Stalinist , received wisdom, papal infallibilty, and the Rupert Murdoch View of the World. We cannot have diversity of thought, debate on issues, we must only adhere to the rigid and doctrinaire views of Rupert Murdoch, and be Right Wing, or die!

 Pardon me for being carried away. I am sitting quietly writing this, listening to a Bach Cantata, after my choir's performance of the Mozart Requiem. We perform it again tomorrow. Such music moves my soul, and if it had not been for the ABC, my life would have lacked so much music and so much of what I hold precious, in our cultural heritage.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Plugged and stuffed

My suburb is being transformed. Once a poor working class area, house prices are now very high. This is on a par with most of the city. It is close to the city centre, to public transport, and is on a little narrow peninsula. It still has a village feel to it. And there are plenty of cafes ats well.The demographic character is changing. There are many young people moving here, and they have been nesting and hatching. Prams, babies and little kids are everywhere, and the school enrolments are increasing.

The devoted parents take their children to and from school. What amazes me is firstly the number of babies being wheeled around with their mouths plugged by dummies (pacifiers in the USA) . Quite old children suck on dummies - two to four years of age. Why do they need dummies as they are being wheeled along the streets?

Nor is it only the dummies which fill their mouths. They seem to need feeding before and after school. They call in to Baker's Delight and are bought iced buns. After school they are back, having sweet soft drinks, iced buns, chips and other snacks, like Slurpies and ice blocks. What do they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? When do they stop sucking and chewing?

Some days I am tempted to take up pen and forms, and to do a questionnaire. Do they do this every day, before and after school? What does it cost each day, per child and in total? Do they eat breakfast before they set out for school? I wonder has any such survey been done?

I hasten to sdd that I am no paragon, and have over-indulged  on confectionery far too often and for far too long. My own bad habits  have led me to regard general over-consumption with some degree of concern. As I write I am munching rice crackers....

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A tribute to greatness and nobility of soul: Gough Whitlam

Today there was a public memorial service for one of the great men of Australian politics and history, Gough Whitlam. He was the leader of the Australian Labor party from 196? To 1977 and led the ALP to victory at the 1972 election. His gpovernment faced an obstructionist and hostile Senate, which proceeded to vote against and block major reforms. This led to a double dissolution of the Parliament, and the Labor government was re-elected. The Australian Constitution provides for a joint sitting of the Parliament so as to resolve legislative deadlocks. The joint sitting was held, and the legislation was duly enacted.

 I will pass over the events of the rest of that Parliament. Suffice it to say that the Opposition blocked Supply, and the Governor General, instead of allowing the crisis to be resolved politically, dismissed the Prime Minister and appointed the Leader of the Opposition as Prime Minister. The Labor Party was crushingly defeated, and also lost the following election in 1977.

Notwithstanding his failings, Whitlam was a great man, who achieved mightily for our country and polity. He reformed the Labor Party, which had suffered a bitter split. The Joint Sitting enacted universal health care. And it achieved reform of federal electoral law.

There had been a permitted variation in the number of electors enrolled in federal electorates, of plus or minus 20%. This was enacted shortly after federation, in order to maximise the political representation of rural areas, which permanently favoured the rural party, the Australian Country Party (later the National Party of Australia, as there could be 40%  fewer electors in rural electorates than in city electorates, making a mockery of the concept and ideal of One Vote, One Value. Thanks to Whitlam and the Labor Party, this malapportionment has become a thing of the past. This achievement and example enabled the subsequent reform of state electoral systems, suomething bitterly opposed by the conservative side of politics.

Later today I will watch the rebroadcast memorial service. It was held in Sydney's Town Hall. There was room, after the 'official' people present, for only 1000 members of the Public (aka ordinary people)  but a good 6000 had put their names forward, to no avail.

It is almost 40 years since the dismissal of Gough Whitlam, but its memory remains clear, compelling, scarifying, and dreadful for millions of the men and women of Austalia ( which is how Gough Whitlam addressed the people.) it is a wonderful thing that his life, his achievements and his history remain part of our treasured political memories. Vale Gough Whitlam,