The Hike back to Central Station from the State Library.

January 21, 2017

photoThe geranium

The sapping heat, a dreadful massacre in Melbourne plus the Inauguration of a new US President took its toll. Tweeting and Face Bookings took over. Some wondered if the US is now on the very precipice of a catastrophe. However, calm and serenity seems to have returned. . A sigh of relief washed over the entire US when Trump restrained himself enough not to grab anyone by the pussy during the inauguration. It was a moving performance!

We both also enjoyed a restorative sleep. It is odd how keen I used to be on sleeping in as a young man. Now that I can, it lost its appeal. Nothing worse than tossing around sleepless. They say, that the elderly often suffer from sleeplessness. Are we haunted by memories? Could we have done things differently? Many people, especially those that claim to be balanced, say that looking back is not for them. They bounce about and are forever jolly and welcoming what is yet to come. They never worry about events of the past and try and do things even better.

To me, it is irritating how some have this ability to for always show this abject positivity. They often lay claims and accept a non questioning and passive vision of a rosy world. The positivity is at times hard to swallow and it alarms me. Is it my age? According to Helvi it is not. “You have always been a complainer and an incurable Jeremiah. A prophet of doom. You have to cheer up and make the best of it.”

It is food for thought!

As was mentioned previously, after noticing a prostrate sleeping man in front of the State Library, I went inside to present my ten books. The man behind the desk wore a uniform with a cap on which ‘State Library’ was written. He was surprised and I informed him of the two Literary awards. He accepted my books and assured me they would be presented to the right people. The State Library is a huge institution and is about far more than lending books. A photographic exhibition was on show. I noticed a huge portrait of our PM, Malcolm Turnbull which made me feel a bit uneasy. He had just managed to cut our pension and those of thousands of others, thousands had their whole pension cut. So much for those that saved up for ‘a rainy day.’

We both strolled around this lovely building. A man with a Coke in one hand and some food in the other, mumbled something while pointing somewhere. He looked normal but wasn’t. A security guard came and took him  gently by the hand ushering him outside. The man tried to come back inside but the guard prevented him. The man was clearly disturbed  mumbling while looking sane. But I wondered what would happen to this man next?

We both were having pangs of hunger and after the walk decided to slowly make our way to a very nice and air-conditioned shop ‘Myers’. Helvi felt her shoes were pinching her feet. Myers  has a very good shoe section. “It’s on the second floor.” Helvi stated firmly yet also optimistically.

We glided up the escalator and I soon found myself seated watching hordes of women trying on shoes. It was a wonderful and uplifting experience. I watched women looking at themselves while trying on new shoes. It was as if the shoe would transform them into stars again. They turned this way and that way. There is something very endearing about women enjoying themselves. Is it something that I could perhaps learn from?

But, the hunger only grew keener.

To be continued!

The Heat is Melting the Word Order if not the Books

January 17, 2017

 

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Grapes, strawberries and figs.

This heat of C37 is now sapping all the words. I can feel them draining down my legs melting onto the floor, seeping down the stairs and ending up, totally shambled around a battery of whirring fans. Yesterday we had the good fortune of locking ourselves up in the comforts of our air-conditioned car. We drove to Canberra to re-new a passport at the  Embassy. It took us just seven seconds to run from the coolness of our car, through the C39 throbbing heat in Canberra to the air-conditioned comfort of the Embassy.

The night just passed, was all sweat rock and roll. No passing of cooling breeze, just the pitiful sounds of maddening insects hurling themselves against the fly-screens of the bedroom windows, all opened in foolish anticipation of relief.. Sheets all  tangled between clammy legs, like  Dutch-wives. (The term ‘Dutch Wife’ or the Indonesian ‘Guling Belanda’ originates from early Dutch colonial times and refers disparagingly to a roll of bedding that is kept between the legs during hot tropical nights. I’ll let you decide on why this roll of bedding became a term of derision. The Dutch in Indonesia were sometimes seen as haughty  and their broad-bottomed wives as being cold.

On the way back home we stopped mid-way and had a late lunch. The streets were mostly deserted. The bitumen highway on the way home a simmering black coated Sahara. No fata morgana nor beckoning oasis. What about the garden, the garden? No storm predicted. Those that were predicted in the previous week had eluded our town to such a degree, people were now shaking their fists at the dark but rainless clouds.  Coarse oaths were renting the still hot air.

The geraniums defiant though. It just shows that in times of despair one can rely on the geranium. “No good watering now, it will scorch the bay leave trees, oh look at our hydrangeas, all dry and forlorn.  They will have to wait till dark, you do the back and I’ll do the front.” Such unity in times of crisis. For dinner we re-heated a magic chicken risotto that Helvi had made some time ago.

The heat did not subside and all we could do was to sit spread-eagled in front of the  fans which we had put on the fastest speed possible. One is an evaporative fan. It blows air through water and is supposed to work better. We were beyond caring, and just drank water mixed with a little red wine ( reward), and did nothing much more than look at each other and supress sighing with repeatedly saying to each other; “isn’t it hot?”

What else could we do?

It is hot!

Walk the Talk to Sydney’s State Library.

January 15, 2017
DSCN0028

The cluster of cables united

recap.

After arrival by train we undertook a walk to the Library to deposit ten books as part of two literary competitions. We passed the first of the sky scrapers and after overcoming intestinal hiccups, the walk resumed with renewed vigour. We are now seated underneath large white canvas umbrellas enjoying a sandwich, a bagel and café lattes.

We noticed that despite the heat we were feeling remarkably chipper. We both enjoy watching people go by. It is interesting that we noticed far more cafés and eating places now in Sydney. Many tantalising plates of food were on display. Gone were the dreary lamington, devon and pie offering of years gone-by. No, all is good in the culinary world. A revolution certainly seems to have happened in edible food in contrast to the fare handed out by our rorting politicians.They still revel in showing abhorrence to even the slightest hint of public support for the dreadful treatment of refugees! But of that more later.

Souvlakis and the yeeros outlets seem to have been well established along Macquarie Street while Pitt Street now excels in Chinese wontons, oriental offerings, noodle dishes and even  sad-looking flattened smoked ducks hanging from inside shop windows. A man approached us pointing to his throat. We shook our heads. He walked on and went to the next customer. Was he hungry or mad?  Poor man, possibly both. After a good rest and drinking copious amounts of water, Helvi suggested to go on. Our next stop would be Martin Place. Martin place is to Sydney what the Left-Bank or Eifel-Tower is to Paris. It even has its own train station, all underground. This is where many people meet.

Years ago Martin Place had an expensive and fancy night-club restaurant.  I think it might have been called ‘Quo Vadis.’ The uber socialite and fund raiser of that time, Nola Dykevere, used to write up in the Sunday Telegraph about the  celebrities visiting this night club. It would feature photos identifying by name the diners and their guests. It was many a Sydney-sider’s lifelong dream to be featured in that paper.

I took one of my first dates there. It was a terrible night. The food was cut up sliced English ham and a salad without dressing, some pierced bits of English gherkin.  I threw all caution to the wind by ordering a glass of tepid insecure wine. My date had sparkling lemonade and we just kept saying to each other; “nice, oh how nice, and my spicy Dutch guttural English ‘you look so lovely’ was answered by ‘thank you.” ‘ I was wearing a too big a suit with a white shirt and tie. The brylcreme tried its best to give my mat hair a bit of a wave. The show had a chanteuse singing something from Tammy or possibly  the latest from that racist ‘ The Black and White Minstrel show.’ For dessert we had some sliced cheese and a pale jelly. I bet the cheese was ‘tasty cheese.’ Still a favourite today.

Of course, anyone on a rare first date would have felt a bit nervous and memories might be exaggerated or vague. My experience of the opposite sex were at that time very limited but my interest at pitch fever heights. A peak during the Scheyville migrant’s camp after our arrival, at the Polish taxi driver’s wife’s bush in the shower through a crack in the fibro  partition was as far as it went. Most of my fellow Dutch migrant boys at the Nissan Hut camp thought it a very fortuitous break and were jealous.

Today, Martin place is thankfully different. A busy bustling place with well designed open places where people can sit, enjoy a coffee and avoid talking to each other tinkering on the mobile phone.  Going up past the station we again met up with many of the homeless. A volunteer with entrepreneurial skills had set up a kitchen to feed those that were hungry. A cook was busy stirring and frying food. Many seemed to just be sleeping or perhaps the heat was having an effect. Many looked elderly. Were some pensioners? It all looked rather startling and unsettling to see so many. How could that be?

Right now our politicians are in the middle of a scandal with rorting their entitlements. One female minister for HEALTH just resigned when it came out she was using travel entitlement to scour the Gold Coast Auction market and had made a most lucrative investment in a high-rise unit on the cold Coast while purportedly being on Government paid health business. Where are their priorities? Certainly not on the home-less.

Another minister with a penchant for horses had used her travel entitlements to attend polo races with her boyfriend. She was shown in a photo wearing a hat and far too much eye blackener. Another scoundrel had travelled to the US attending a Prayer Breakfast, whatever that means. But the forgotten flotsam of the homeless are in Martin place and a few were even seen prostrate right in front of the reason of our walk and focus, the State Library. Again I won’t finish this tale of books and woes.

It seems, that I got stuck far too long on regaling  past memories with peaks at female bush. Is that what drives me?

Keep an eye out. More to come!

 

A long walk around Sydney on a hot Day with my Books.

January 14, 2017

new-cover-1704-front-big-book-cover-18april

We caught this special train at 9.20 am from Bowral. Bowral is a bit more than a hundred kilometres from Sydney. The seats had been pre-booked Online. An experience on its own. How people can ever get on a train without owning a computer is now in question. A good friend told me it is a normal thing to do. “Lots of normal people book online now,” she said, adding, “if I can do it so can you.” She seems to regard me normal, which is reassuring.

I reckon many people don’t have computer skills nor want to book online. Many ‘normal’ people might well expect a train ticket to be sold at train stations. Apparently, we were punished for booking online and charged normal fare while entitled to a ‘senior’ fare. We are not normal fare payers. We are seniors. But let’s not be chagrined over such little details.  After we found our seat numbers synchronising with our booked tickets we leant back luxuriating in soft adjustable seats with arm rests. With some fiddling we also managed to find foot-rests elevating our feet from the floor. The train had toilets. Always handy for seniors. You know how it is?

The whole journey was a great experience and well worth the extra expense. Every ten minutes the train-driver would give some information about the buffet car serving coffee, tea and food together with expected time arrivals at Sydney. After arrival I retrieved my luggage trolley with the books that were booked into the State Library for two literary awards,  a $ 25 000. Memoir/Biography award, and one $10.000. Humour writing award.

We decided to walk, knowing we would be in for a challenge. At 11am, it was already a scorcher. What the heck. We carried water, books and wore good shoes. What more could you want for a trans- city walk? Helvi, did not want to catch buses. “Why not take it easy, we have all day. The return train is booked leaving 18.12. Let’s make it a holiday,” she said. I wasn’t against this. Suggestions are generally not contested. Helvi has a knack of making friendly suggestions that are unrefusable.  So, off we went. My trolley with the hopeful books had wheels and I had my RM William boots ( see previous article photo).

The first couple of hundred metres took us along a large park fence. It is a well known park which extends towards the beginning of the rows and rows of Sydney’s high-rise buildings, mixture of offices and apartments with shops underneath. We were surprised that along this park fence were stretched out so many tarpaulins, tents and  rickety constructions, housing homeless people.  Even at  Central Station we noticed the dishevelled homeless stretched out on the marble tiled floor, heads on  shopping bags covered by rags. There were always some, but now…so many. Not just young men but also elderly folk and women. I expect with this fanatic cut back on welfare and pensions by our government, this sad army will only grow bigger. I wonder how many of those sleeping rough are displaced train conductors having become superfluous, replaced by steel Opal Posts?

I am not sure, was it the rising heat or the sight of so much homeless despair or the combination, but I was feeling nauseous and told Helvi. I confessed that I needed to see a nice toilet. “Oh dear, she said, I knew it! That’s the trouble with you. I can’t go anywhere with you without you looking and needing a toilet. You should not have had those two strong coffees.”

I do  confess suffering from intestinal hurry. A condition that calls for those familiar with it to always keep a close watch on the availability of toilets. The closer the better! I have an American friend who is the same. He has gained an intimate and formidable knowledge of all public toilets within twenty kilometres of Central Sydney. He is thinking of writing a guide book on the subject. He might well end up winning a literature award. Those sort of odd books are much liked.

After scanning the road ahead I noticed a pub. I asked Helvi if she would like a beer. “Why,  she said? Can’t you just go to use the pub’s toilet without feeling obliged to order something? Just go in there and be brave.  Many normal people use toilets, just go in there with your little suitcase-trolley. I’ll come and look after it.”  She has a point! I do tend to be over obliging, crawling perhaps.

On my return I told Helvi that the taps were very unique. “They start running without touching them. Amazing technology, I enthused. “I am not interested in your toilet taps talk, Gerard. Let’s go.” We continued at a far more relaxed pace now that the toilet issue had been dealt with. I fancied people might well take me and my trolley for a barrister with a large volume of Court Applicants’ Affidavits and Responses, on my way to the Family Court, dealing with a very litigious contentious but lucrative divorce case.

I did wonder if we would meet other literary award hopefuls? Half way, we took a rest. I ordered a vegetarian sandwich for Helvi while I had a salmon bagel. Both were nice including two latte coffees.. We asked a woman directions to the Library. She surprised us by saying, she too was on her way to the Library. However, she did not have a trolley. That cut her out as a competitor! With rather steep application fees plus the cost of providing five hard copies of the book plus ISBN numbers might put restriction on some writers. Many an aspiring author often ends up in despair or poverty. Worse, one could imagine it a distinct possibility to end up in a tent in the park as well. A yellowing tearstained manuscript blowing in hot wind.

This is now getting a bit long. But, no worries.

It will be continued.

A trip into Town and State Library

January 12, 2017

photoRMW Boots (1996)

With recent heatwave, we thought it would not be silly to seek the comfort of air-conditioned surroundings. While many escape into shopping emporiums, we thought to seek coolness in a train journey.  The shopping centres are often dispiriting. This rampant materialism, when I know that whatever they buy, soon I’ll find it chucked out and left on the nature strip. From bedding to barbeques, from Day and Night lounges to lettuce spinners, sooner or later it gets heaved out. Not only that, but all that public eating that’s going on. Some eat seated parked next to their trolley. Some sit almost in the trolley. At times I have difficulty seeing what is trolley and what is shopper. Through years of shopping they morph into almost the same.

I thought first to wait with writing after having gone to Town. However so much has gone on in preparation I can’t really wait. Last time readers might remember that In Australia we now have train and bus travel where by the conductors have been replaced by electronic steel posts. They are called Opal stations. They are not real stations. They are steel posts set in concrete onto which humans tap a card. The Opal card is a train ticked.

We took our first Opal tapping train journey some weeks ago. We were full of excitement and while the tapping went very well, the train journey was less so. We had a very badly swaying and creaking carriage. I am sure it was in danger of coming off its wheels.  At each station stop, and there were so many, diesel fumes would filter into the carriage. We thought on the way home we would get relief from that noise, and poisonous fumes, but no. We arrived back nauseous and with  thumping headaches. Helvi, stated. “Never again.” She knows her limitations and is widely travelled.

It was therefore that I planned to do the train trip a bit better, and would personally go to the Bowral Station-Master to ask for advice and hopefully book a train less tumultuous in its movements and less diesel fumed, and if possible with a well lubricated undercarriage. He said; ?”NO. We don’t deal with trains or ticketing anymore. You have to go on-line. Here is the information.” He gave me a sheet on which there was written with large lettering ‘Begin your regional journey ONLINE.’ I was tempted to ask what he was still doing at the Station. Emptying the bins or blowing his whistle, wave a flag?

Strange as it may sound you can’t get tickets anymore from railway stations. Some have large machines that sell tickets but they are also going out. I don’t know what people do who don’t go ‘ONLINE’ or who don’t have internet nor mobile phones. As far as I know not owning Computers and mobile phones is not unlawful. I was told that pensioners still get charged $2.50 all day travel. So, home I went with my information ONLINE sheet tucked in my pocket.

I went ONLINE and was surprised how easy it was. I booked Bowral-Sydney return, but, here comes the sting. On the line with faster service with toilets, buffet for cool drinks, a coffee or a croissant they don’t accept Opal. No $2.50 all day travel for pensioners either.

We were billed $ 94.54 for the two of us. I thought the Station Master looked a but shifty. He must have known.

Anyway, it will be a nice train  tomorrow, and faster by an amazing twenty minutes. Helvi will be happy not to get thrown about the carriage and infused with Diesel. I’ll let you know how it all went.

 

The reason for the visit to the State Library is that I am entering my books in a completion. Now that is exciting.

 

Take from the Poor and Give to the Rich.

January 10, 2017

imagesLoaves and fishes

The latest and most exciting new way of economics to hit Australia is the Government’s  novel way to re-vitalize the economy. Our PM  Mr. Malcolm Turnbull, a multimillionaire, had a flash of genius. Why not give the top-end of town much needed taxation relief with juicy superannuation concessions ?  The stroke of his insight did not stop there. He would also use the opportunity to pay for this by cutting back ‘entitlements’ to pensioners, the unemployed, the disabled and other unwanted flotsam washed on our shores of  previous care, consideration and communal empathy.

For some time now, any kind of ‘right’ has been transformed through careful manipulation by the media into an unnecessary ‘entitlement.’ Now there is the wonder of Western democracy, you can change almost anything. Rights now are unneeded ‘entitlements’ that we can’t claim to own anymore. The way to the future as determined by our Liberal National Government, in all its wisdom, is to demonise those that seek support from governments and with some deft manoeuvring, take away their previous rights and transform them into unneeded and bad entitlements.

The government has now taken away pensions  or reduced them away from the most needy. Unemployed are investigated and letters of demand send to return over-payments. There are no explanations of why our revered model of economics is constantly seeking ways to maximise profits by doing away with workers.  The way to profitable businesses is to employ less workers, preferably by paying them ever diminishing wages.  Combined with taxation cuts by successive governments given to the rich, the rows of those needing support is growing.

Increasingly, health and education are seen in the same light. We no longer can hope to see those as a ‘right’ of a country as a people that sees itself at the forefront of civilisation. Both Australia and the inventor of modern western democracy, the US, are falling behind in educating their young. Australia is way down the ladder in teaching language and math skills with the US  35th on the ladder. In Australia it is not much better.

So, where will we end up? Looking at Turnbull and Trump I am driven to despair. Once we are fattening the porkers and baconers of our societies and neglecting the vulnerable I suspect ‘Western Democracy’ is under threat.

Finally, here is one person’s view on the future of the US and I suspect this applies to Australia as well.

“Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, warned that US global power will collapse under the Donald Trump administration.”

“The Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace and conflict studies as a scientific discipline. He has made numerous accurate predictions of major world events, most notably the collapse of the Soviet Empire.”

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/us-power-will-decline-under-trump-says-futurist-who-predicted-soviet-collapse

Almost There

 

 

 

 

 

Mid Summer is close when the cicadas start singing.

January 7, 2017

garage-revesby-1

The Australian summer is now buzzing with hot days following hot humid nights. The restless tossing around with whirring of fans, I get woken up by an early light that’s causing an orange tinge around the trees outside. It brings back memories of many summers ago when I was sixteen or so, sleeping outside on the concrete path leading from the back-veranda to the outside dunny. (For outsiders, a dunny-can or dunny is an outside toilet of earlier times.)
The day time temperature was over 40C and the night not much less. The mosquitos were murderously bloodthirsty but the coolness of lying on the bare cemented foot-path beckoned, and concrete won.

The dunny was an Australian toilet before sewer was installed. In the haste of accommodating hundreds of thousands of post WW2 refugees and migrants flooding into Australia, the installation of sewers by the ruling Governments were not a prime consideration. Bulldozers were roaring over the country-side as far as the eyes could see, building roads, and making way for sub-divisions on which to build houses. Own home was the Australian dream and the priority. My mother back in Holland had this dream about Australia of having a house with a real bathroom. A house with an outdoor bathroom wasn’t on in her horizon, let alone a toilet whereby all urinations and defecations were done in a drum which would be collected once weekly by a ‘dunny-man.’ The dunnies did not have water taps!

This job of collecting the dunny can was a much coveted profession. It entailed (through many years of traditions) many lurks and perks, not least were the short work days. The faster those cans were collected, the earlier the dunny collectors could knock-off to go home. The collecting was always very early in the morning before the steaming heat would make the stench of the job very challenging, almost impossible, even for the hardiest. The only requirement was to be strong and able to hoist those cans on the shoulder and able to make a run for the truck on which the cans would be placed in, rows after rows. No slackness would be allowed. By ten o’clock in the morning the men would be home for a shower and a change of singlets. I remember those blue singlets well. They had runs of browns stains. There were rumours of some of the dunny-men to have formed dalliances with lonely widows or divorcees. The mind boggles, but love overcomes all.

It was, while as mentioned before, I was prostrate outside on the cool concrete during the late 1950’s or so, finally asleep, when the dunny-man arrived. Without as much as a side-way glance he ran past me, collected first one and then the second one ( we, with six children were a two pan family) , one at a time. I remember the slushing. We accepted it as normal and part and parcel of having migrated in quest for owning our own home.

The cicadas will soon make their presence known. A small chorus is practising already while I am penning this. The kookaburras are keenly waiting for their appearances when the cicadas will start clambering cautiously above the soil. They will start their arduous climb back onto the eucalypts. Many will make it for the cycle to continue. Many will feed the Kookaburra too.

Yet, their singing goes on.

The Art of Recycling the yellow lidded bin on time.

January 5, 2017

Almost There

Do you find it confusing too? We have two rubbish bins. The Red-lidded one gets collected weekly on Thursday. The Yellow-lidded fortnightly, also on Thursday. You can never go wrong with the red one. I simply put it out each Wednesday at the front on the much heralded ‘nature strip’.

This nature strip is an Australian invention as is the Hill’s Hoist. Both quintessentially Australian as a prawn on a barbeque during a boozy summer’s afternoon quaffing from a Coolabah Riesling wine-cask. The nature strip fulfils two main needs.
1. For dogs to defecate on.
2. For residents to drop their unwanted and over-bought consumables, mainly in the form of excess mattresses or bright-blue sagging Nights-and-Day sofas.

The dog defecators use the nature strip mainly at night.They are the night stalkers. They walk their dogs without the aid of a plastic bag to pick up or catch the dog’s load, and simply allow the nature strip to get used as a toilet under the cover of darkness. I would not be surprised if the walkers themselves at times follow the lead of their dogs and do the same! I am suspicious of the look of some of those turds. I am no expert, but even so.., they don’t look very doggy to me.

The third one is of course to put our full bins out on for the local Shire Council to collect. The confusion lies in remembering the collection of the yellow lidded recycling bin. We know that fortnightly means once every two weeks. Yesterday afternoon I put out both. I had not given much thought about the Yellow bin but assumed it was time. It was very full! The Christmas festivities and associated New Year gaiety are often trying times for the Yellow bin. The grandchildren and their presents caused much refuse. Paper wrappings, boxes and soft drink bottles. We do allow some sugar intake for the grandkids during the Christmas holidays. 😉 Hence the plastic bottles. However, we also stock up on lots of bananas and mangoes for balance. The glass bottles, of which there were many, used to contain lovely Shiraz or mouth watering Pinot-Gris.

I often am the first one to put out the bins. And so it was yesterday. It seems to encourage others to do the same. By late afternoon an army of residents were diligently putting them out.There were rows and rows of both Red and Yellow bins festooning the ‘nature strip.’ Imagine this morning discovering that the Red bin had been emptied but not the Yellow one.
Did I have my dates wrong? It was just as well that no-one noticed it was me who, as a result of putting the Yellow bin out first, encouraged all the others to follow suit. A bit like the pied piper.

It means that many residents now have to drag to Yellow one back inside. The yellow bins are really much bigger and when loaded very heavy. (One could almost live in one.) Anyway, I feel a bit foolish now. My over-concern is punishing innocent people.

It’s not a good start of the year! Is it?

A sigh of relief!

January 3, 2017

new-cover-1704-front-big-book-cover-18april

There is a communal sighing of relief washing all over Australia . Work has started and routine is returning. People are happy again. It is odd how we yearn for variety and change of routine, yet always welcome a return to normality. There is nothing as life-confirming as everyday habits while performing household duties. I suppose, all the extra dishes have now been washed and the last of the bottles put out for re-cycling. We are all relishing a return to the familiar. We enjoy being bored but are just not honest enough to admit except to our most intimate friends under the cover of darkness or an umbrella during day time.

New Year’s day was totally absent of any public expression of joy. Not a celebration in sight. All shops were closed. Even the coffee bars were shut. Some tourists were aimlessly walking around looking for a celebration. Several with strong European accents asked us where they could get a coffee. “No, not here in Bowral, but the Fish and Chip shop is open, try there you might get an instant Nescafé.” Bowral on New Year’s day looked like a post-apocalyptic scene out of the novel ‘On the Beach’, by Neville Shute. I remember when each time we arrived back in Australia by boat it would be on a Sunday in Fremantle. Not a soul to be seen on the streets. The first time back in 1956, before the book was even written

At one stage we had foreign students living with us in inner city suburb of Balmain. They were mainly from Asian countries. Inevitably they would ask us; “where are the people?” They missed people around on the streets more than anything.

I think Australia might have to try a bit harder in the field of public celebrations and joy in attracting tourism. Sure, the fireworks in Sydney and other places were magnificent on New Year’s Eve. Overall, it seems that the Christmas season celebrations are mainly a private affair. A family get together rather than a public event. Our cities don’t seem to have the density required for people to come out in the open in throngs like they do in Amsterdam, Paris or Hong Kong. We live too spread out from each other and with our love for privacy don’t care much for a display of abandoning all our inhibitions, except when we get drunk. Even then we are more likely to bash than to embrace.

A report has come out stating that our economic model of consuming by soaking up our yearly GDP is becoming more and more unstuck. It seems we have reached a level of saturation. There is only so much we can shove in our cupboards and wardrobes or have enough power points to plug in electronic gadgetry.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-04/consumerism-buying-more-stuff-not-answer-to-happiness/8160346

Well, the pensioners will certainly give a helping hand in non-consuming, seeing the government has targeted billions to be saved from cutting pensions or by lowering them. The money saved will be used to give tax breaks to business and the wealthy. We also have this senator advising that pensioners should be ashamed of being a pensioner. Pensioners ought to feel they have failed seems to be his message.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-02/david-leyonhjelm-calls-to-restrict-pension-assets-test/8157924

We should all pull together and show shame. Be proud of your shame.

A proliferation of ‘Happy New Year.’ But Easter eggs are coming soon.

January 2, 2017
Thomas without tablet (de)vice

Thomas without tablet (de)vice

There has been an unusual number of repeat ‘Happy New Year’ wishes this time. Did anyone else notice it? Perhaps with the hectic use and proliferation of a multitude of IT connectivity such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. there are more opportunities than ever before to give Happy New Year wishes. That’s apart from the Jacquie Lawson E-Cards. It becomes confusing and one should really keep a little book in which to record those friends that were wished ‘a Happy New Year’.

I too have re-wished Happy New Year to the same people several times over. We don’t want to be seen as stingy when it comes to wish well to others in the coming year. Of course, wishing and achieving ‘wellness’ is a different kettle of fish. We all do our best.

There are now more books than ever on achieving ‘happy’. Although I suspect that cookery books still beat ‘happy’ books. Last week, just before Christmas, a cranky woman stormed out of our local bookshop. She looked at me with hurricane eyes. I and our dog Milo were waiting patiently outside. I immediately dove down for cover. There is nothing more dangerous than facing a cranky woman exiting a book-store. I mean, what if she had stormed out of a butcher shop and I was waiting for Helvi to order some lamb-chops? All those knives about? To become furious inside a book-shop is unusual. What could have been the reason for her steaming-hot ire? Were it all those diabolic Cricket books or the Pork Belly recipe Books featured in the window? The picture of crackling so real, some hungry vagabond had started to chew on its cover.

I did not have much time to consider possible reasons for her fury, and by squatting down I drew attention to our Jack Russell, Milo. I petted him and said somewhat inanely; “good boy, good boy.” It was absolutely the right thing to have done. It took the murderous intent away from the woman. She melted in front of us and her eyes relented, becalming the raging mind storm. I thought it safe to venture carefully about the reason for her fury; “It’s all so hopeless, isn’t it,” I said, encouraged by her becalmed facial expressions. “Oh, yes, she repeated, all is hopeless. Where are all the children books? They should be at the front and not all those stupid cooking books. I have to buy thirteen presents and I want good children books.”

I immediately agreed heartily and egged her on by; “I bet those cookery books are bought by people who never cook, they are always seen to come home, night after night with pizza boxes under their arms or plastic bags with take-away Chinese muck.” She was now as calm as a lamb and after patting Milo crossed the street to be on her way looking for thirteen present to buy. I suppose, for her grand-children.
Don’t you like it though that she got so upset about the children books not being at the front of the shop, especially at Christmas time?

What is it about all those cooking books? Even on the TV. Show after show. It makes me furious too.