Another Magnum Opus?



With the terror of our Strata compound life now bedded down with the doona pulled off the carcasses of the cowering recalcitrant owners versus renters, it is time to move forward. The weather, after a few shy days of an almost warm sun has turned cool again. Spring can’t make its mind up knocking off Southern Highlands windy weather.

Another notification by Amazon crediting my account with the previous month sale of both my books, pleased me no end. Not that the amount was anywhere in the league of a Mark Zuckerberg earnings, but… a sale is a sale. Somewhere in this world people are reading my books and that is very pleasing. It’s what I try to think about pushing aside other thoughts preventing me from a sound sleep. That’s part of many years lived and memories piling up.

The third book will be a compilation of when I started writing. It would have been around two thousand and eight. I knew many English words already then but had never anticipated that I would try and put them down on paper in a reasonable manner and order. WordPress tells me I have now written almost nine hundred pieces. Where has the time gone, my Mother would say while sighing.

So, the first sixty thousand words I wrote about my brother Frank’s life-long battle with chronic schizophrenia interwoven clumsily in our family’s story of migration to Australia in nineteen-hundred fifty-six. Here is a sample of some of those words.

“That something was not quire right about my brother Frank came at the time at the age of eight or so, the teacher noticed Frank’s beautiful handwriting. While the hand writing was in long up and down strokes, with swirly Ws and majestic Ms, the problem was not the beauty of it all, but more the time it would take him to perfect this skill. In fact, he would painstakingly take all day to do what should have taken him one hour. No matter how he was praised and how we all stood back in awe of his beautiful writing, the friendly urging to keep up with the rest of the class was ignored and he would take all the time in the world to perfect his writing. This wanting to be perfect in whatever he undertook is what would plague him for the rest of his life.

The eleventh of August 1939 would prove to be a most unfortunate date for Frank to be born. The rumblings of unrest in our part of the world were getting ominous and louder. Sometimes one could easily surmise that Frank’s problems started at his conception. Not only the wrong time for births in general, Rotterdam was also a bad place and the wrong place, especially around August the following year when I was born as well.”

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34 Responses to “Another Magnum Opus?”

  1. lifecameos Says:

    A very interesting blog again. I do enjoy reading your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Big M Says:

    I was about to exhort you to ‘maintain the rage’ against the antagonistic elements of the body corporate, but maintaining your usual good grace may be more effective, in that it may drive them mad.

    It must be gratifying to receive a cheque from one’s publisher. I looked at my Amazon reviews yesterday. They were quite funny, if having an endoscopy or vasectomy are causes for great mirth.

    I’m interested in your description of Frank’s behaviour as a child. We have relatives on both sides of the family with mental illness, who displayed odd behaviours during childhood. My Dad always remembers the family taking his youngest brother to audition for the famous Smiley movies during the 50s. The irony was that the brother had never smiled in his life, and was later diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder. But then, what do we do with the weird, or odd kid? For all,we,know they may be a future genius.

    Great word order, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      As Frank grew older, his behaviour became more and more unpredictable. He hears voices. It’s a miracle he is still alive. He has good care but is now wheel-chair bound, a result of having damaged his legs when he jumped off Pyrmont Bridge when still living in Australia.
      Amazingly he keeps up his interest in Australian football and knows more about it than I.
      As for the body corporate. We received a letter they will take out three bushes opposite our place and will enforce some ‘by-law’ regarding parking on ‘common’ property.
      The whole joint is seething with discontent and people now scowl and go around shaking fists into the air mumbling incoherently.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The Snow Melts Somewhere Says:

    I’m definitely planning on reading your book(s) one day soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I’ve often thought about your brother Frank through the years. I hope all is as well as can be expected with him these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, he is well and smoking less and less. He is not allowed to smoke indoors and because he has difficulty moving by himself he is forced to undergo long periods of being smoke free.
      He has a few family friends who visit him. Sometimes the visitors are met by Frank being in a mood whereby he doesn’t respond, refuses to talk. It’s been a difficult journey for Frank and the people around him.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Forestwoodfolkart Says:

    A credit to you Gerard. Writing publishing and selling in other than your first native language!! No easy feat. It is a shame that we are not able to cater for the oddballs of society. In a perfect world, Frank might have been able to apprentice as a signwriter of sorts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Frank loves those books that are now being bought by the millions around the world. Colouring in books.
      He also does some work, packing cakes of soap, and has his own room with TV and book shelves. He used to be keen on collecting stamps and has several albums.
      He sends us money each year as his income from social security is far more than he can spend. After his eventual passing away, his considerable savings will go to the Dutch government. Fair enough, seeing they looked after Frank since 1974.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Congrats on the sales, Gerard. I too do a little happy dance when a check comes in. Not a good time to be born in Europe at all… –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  7. rod Says:

    It’s good to know your titles are selling. It’s too bad about Frank: we have someone with a serious mental problem in the family and what will become of her after we die is not clear.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. chris hunter Says:

    We have overcome the terror of Kindle App and availed ourselves of Almost There. Soon we are to head down to Innes National Park where we have rented the Engineer’s Cottage and in the quietness, far from the madding crowd, we will in turn venture into the book that is indeed by all accounts, a window into your soul Gerard.

    Cheers to both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Very chuffed to read you got ‘Almost There.’ Hope you will enjoy some bits of it. This soul of mine isn’t all that fascinating, certainly getting a bit more wrinkled. Helvi just noticed I had not taken my shirt off last night and slept in it. I am slipping. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • chris hunter Says:

        Gerard, you have caught me at the end of my morning creativity. I am going through a pile of my recent poems, I have been asked to read over the airwaves (again) by the local radio station – probably only fifty percent of the current crop are for (local) public consumption, my inborn iconoclasm knows no bounds, I could be the unwilling recipient of thrown rotten eggs or tomatoes, or the radio station could be, and the manager is such a nice guy.

        What do you mean “hope you will enjoy some bits,” all of ‘Almost There’ will be interesting and interconnected, not one person reading this blog would disagree.

        As for sleeping with your shirt on, why not, I sometimes sleep in my Port Adelaide football beanie, my bung ear during winter demands it, just give me a whistle and I’ll referee the Grand Final in my dreams, Port will win every premiership. My wife has long given up on me.


        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        That would be a nice thing to do, reading your poetry over the radio. Can I hear those poems?
        My internet is going through the NBN. Amazingly, I managed the change-over and am walking a bit taller today, saved $300- not getting a Telstra ‘expert’ in…
        We have now a real summer’s day and Milo is pestering us to take him for a walk.

        Liked by 1 person

      • chris hunter Says:

        G, not sure about an audio link to the station but I can ask. It won’t be for a couple of weeks or more, so I’ll get back.

        My work comes in several forms, doggerel, blank verse/prose style, and a weird curiously ugly style that drove Bob Ellis to distraction, in fact I had to promise never to publish such on his site again. I kept that promise, rather reluctantly. I was the only punter who has such restraints on TT.

        But as you have just walked Milo here is a bit of doggerel for you to contemplate, pardon the pun. I’m sure Milo would approve:

        Ballad of the Red Heeler

        I was just another orphan looking for a home,
        Dumped upon the curb side and left to roam,
        Picked up by the council man and taken to the pound,
        They said that I’d be shot unless an owner found.

        Shut inside a city yard I might as well be dead,
        This bloke who claimed to own me said that I’d be fed,
        He chained me in his pint-sized yard where I began to howl,
        It drove the neighbours crazy and made my owner scowl.

        Then one day, so merciful, his country friend arrived,
        He told my master something, like I’d not survive,
        He convinced him to hand me over, to set me free,
        Then took me in his battered ute to the wide country.

        Now I’m chasing cattle on the endless plains,
        I’m sucking in the dust then washed down by the rain,
        I hear the whips-a-cracking and the drover’s piercing cry,
        And know that I’ve made heaven, before I really died.

        CD Hunter 2013

        Liked by 2 people

  9. gerard oosterman Says:

    I read it to Milo, and he nodded in approval, even wagged his tail. I can’t remember you driving Bob Ellis mad with poetry.
    I had a drama yesterday, after downloading an AGL bill. It was a fake bill, but pretty convincing.

    Of course, all my files became instantly Cryptonlocked and for a $300 ransom paid in Bitcoins my files would be unlocked pronto.
    It is called malicious Ransomware. I only changed to paperless bills a couple of months ago when a discount of $5. would be paid if we went paperless with AGL.

    I managed with he help of a computer expert and American Friend to undo the damage without paying the ransom.
    I came close to strangling my computer.

    So, I liked the Red Heeler ballad or doggerel and look forward to more.


    • chris hunter Says:

      G, you catch me at the desk, prior to departing for golf – yes, I do indulge in such a folly.

      The Red Heeler poem was written during the period when a neighbour took on that breed of dog and it howled incessantly in its small yard, mostly chained, eventually it was moved on. In the poem I fantasised a happy ending, my sanity demanded it.

      One of the social problems as I see it is people who insist on having unsuitable pets, like a Great Dane living on the top storey of an apartment building, a shoebox, such things are more common than realised and it is, to my mind, a form of animal abuse.

      What you experienced with your deceiving computer download is a form of terrorism. If only the wackers in government would address the real events that assail us, instead of the constructed, engineered ‘terror’ events, entirely unavoidable, that they use to cower and control us.

      Nuisance phone calls are in a similar category, some are extremely harassing, but our politicians are out to lunch, high on the hog gratis the taxpayer, airheads the lot of them, minus a few.

      BTW, in one of my ‘poems’ I quoted you, I will consider posting it here, I’m sure you’ll get a good laugh, written about two years ago when you were under attack on the Ellis blog.

      Cheers, and hello to Berlioz.

      Liked by 1 person

      • chris hunter Says:

        entirely ‘avoidable’ – oops.


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Milo, is entirely suitable for our living quarters. He can go and venture outside at will and is small enough to walk on a lead. He does have a habit of punching above his weight and gets very stroppy with much bigger dogs.

        I remember being very upset, when you know who, was forever attacking me on different blogs. Not giving it oxygen was one way of dealing with her.

        Yes, Chris. My obsession with zinc alumed fencing and suburbia did not really enhanced my standing in the blogosphere.


    • chris hunter Says:

      G, as promised, well, tongue in cheek, but a promise is a promise. This is the sort of thing that got me out of whack with Bob Ellis, well he was an old mate of Les Murray, and you see they do define the written word here in Oz, lyrical beauticians… No doubt you will recognise your contribution (smile)…

      Man is in a Hiatus of Conquest

      No more press gangs, but no more adventures to un-chartered shores, now you can access anything, anywhere, watch a beheading, or a good old machine-gunning from above, ‘real’ flesh and blood snuff movies from the comfort of your living room – a brave new lap top explorer.

      It’s no longer a matter of climbing Everest but whether you can do it naked, hopping backwards on one foot, whilst recovering from cancer on black bag chemotherapy. The surgeon saved a life, but what was the ‘life’ saved – that of a manic breaker of weird world records?

      Who are we?

      To quote a sage: “More likely the progeny of zinc alum suburbia. Bored shitless. Miles of sameness, dreariness beyond belief. What to do? Get drunk or sneak away and start a fire, anything for relief.”

      Can you imagine an add in the local employment pages:

      Wanted, persons willing to colonise the outer galaxy. No special skills required other than a sense of adventure. No guarantees of a safe return to earth.

      How many would apply?

      Well that’s not the point. That the lid is removed is the central issue.

      And the kids of zinc alum suburbia? Start a garage band? Get a menial job? Perhaps a mercenary fighter, or jump on a sailing ship without a union ticket?

      Those sailing ship days are over. Jump on a leaky boat as a refugee – but to where ultimately – a safe, wall-to-wall world in zinc suburbia?

      I’m afraid we are going to have to put up with it. Or reenact The Somme, or Nagasaki, or the bubonic plague as an art form.

      Until that first spaceship takes off the world is just going to get
      smaller and smaller, and less diverse, an inbred monoculture – especially if we continue to waste all our resources mindlessly fattening THE GREEDY PIG, as we are now actively doing – our current offering to evolution is just unmitigated ground hog.

      Houston we have a problem. We are bored shitless!

      Boredom is the modern plague and it is killing millions. God just can’t do it for us anymore.



      Houston: “Sorry, we can’t oblige, the fossil fuels and minerals were all required during the Period of Great Indulgence, frittered away like so much loose semen in the wind, so we have nothing left to construct with, we are officially stuck here on earth, but please, please, do enjoy the Soylent Green.”

      CD Hunter


  10. gerard oosterman Says:

    Well, Chris.
    There isn’t a lot that I could add. A WOW seems a bit silly if not totally inadequate. We seem to fight the same battle.

    I am finally getting to ‘Frank Story’ and am a third way in fixing mistakes and then format the lot and getting it edited.

    You can imagine how it felt getting this EncryptoLocked virus!

    I don’t mind after it is published and the words are out, but not before.
    How did your golf go? I wish I had some type of hobby. I joined ‘Men’s-Shed’ but got fed up after one session. The men did not seem to talk much, just fiddled with bench-saws and drills. One man was making a rabbit- hutch and another fixed a bicycle.

    H reckons I should get out of myself. Easier said then done.


    • chris hunter Says:

      Yes Gerard, we fight the same battle. What originally attracted me to you, caught my interest, was your humour. And your humanity.

      I know what you mean about men’s sheds, I helped build one once but never took a part.

      The golf went a bit pear shaped, but after the game a very good golfer convinced me to venture back into the sand trap, scene of the crime, and he made some rather astute observations, better luck next round!


    • chris hunter Says:

      From Arrival

      We arrived late at night, shackled man-to-man, heads down, shuffling in unison.

      Imprisoned so far from home we valued our friendships – your mate was your saviour.

      Together, under the lash, we suffered equally – our spines flayed bare if we dared to buckle.

      This baptism gave rise to humour – ironic in the face of adversity, reckless, relying on luck – God had all but abandoned us.

      When freed of our chains we explored the new country, inventing novel ways to survive.

      Some felt for the blacks – witnessed their land being parcelled for profit – then renamed in the auld country’s favour.

      It was sad as they offered food and shelter, but like the humanist William Buckley, we were not all responsible for the genocide.

      Over the years many have arrived, some risking their lives in unseaworthy vessels, then detained, awaiting verdict.

      Today the face of this nation mirrors the world’s face, but what do our hearts say?

      Our hearts are estranged – as the rivers run dry we toast to prosperity, ancient forests are transformed into meaningless paper.

      The salt is rising and the water brackish, we are destroying this land from underneath our children, and our children’s children.

      What forests will they walk in, in which rivers will they swim? We behave as if there is no tomorrow – so complete is our illusion.

      Australia needs leadership – a person who understands the relationship between all of us, and the given, precious earth.

      CD Hunter

      Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        A beautifully expressed bit of Australian history, Chris. It has all gone astray now though.

        I never thought we would sink as low as we have. Australia is now on the nose in many parts of the world except by those of Pauline Hanson’s beliefs.

        We do need a change of leaders and I hope that this is the last term for Turnbull. What a weakling he turned out to be.

        Queensland is now trying to get one of the largest coalmines up and running. Why not the world’s largest solar farm?

        Still, it is spring and we enjoy the garden. It is a small consolation but it does bring cheer.


      • chris hunter Says:

        Thanks Gerard, this (From Arrival) will be one of the pieces I will be reading on air.

        I agree, despite the misery in the world we should each seek solace in our immediate environments, we have a beautiful native garden with trees, birds and bees, the old Cornish built church spire backdrops all of this, our piece of country heaven, like something out of Dylan Thomas.

        Having said this I will attach a final poem below, discussing such things as tragedy and yet beauty – this work will be truncated by the blog setting, it is written entirely in quintets.

        Here, this is for you and your gracious Helvi, and anyone else who might enjoy reading reading it, it is universal:

        River Music

        She arrived in the middle afternoon, alone and on foot. The town was more prosperous than she expected, evident in the carefully restored church with its impressive stone spire, freshly painted shops, bustling open-air food markets, but to her reckoning the town’s most important asset was its idyllic, meandering, tree-lined river.

        It was late autumn, rows of ageing willows hung low over the banks, their capricious leaves thrusting skywards in sudden golden plumes, before settling onto the river to float off as giddy, spinning boats; or self-woven, magically created rafts; fragile craft, yet to be challenged by the jostling, whitewater rapids further downstream.

        This was no ordinary town; it featured a stone, arched, medieval bridge, and added to this cultural wonder, as if by contrast, a wooden planked crossing, delightfully rickety, lightly attached at each bank; the kind of temporary bridge boy scouts might construct; a challenge to negotiate that required certain degrees of gymnastic skill and an undeniable thirst for adventure.

        Drawn to the challenge she began to negotiate the bridge, despite being a less than average swimmer, moving out across its narrow planking whilst carefully retaining her balance, willingly enticed into the crazy adventure, perhaps in part attracted by the hypnotic, glittering surface; host to myriad autumnal flora that had been ever so lightly deposited by the fresh, fragrant, seasonal breeze.

        At the midway point of her venture, unexpectedly, the church bell tolled out, resonating loudly from the tall stone spire; it added a distinctly dreamlike quality to the enchanting village, the place she planned to stay overnight. Slowly, carefully, she made her way across to the far bank, but not without the odd flutter of heart, before finally, thankfully, returning to her point of origin.

        Suddenly, her carefree mood altered to one of intrigue; caught within the reeds that embroidered the riverbank, she observed what appeared to be a number of unusually shaped model boats; they were in fact, as she soon realized, the sound boxes of musical instruments; violins, slowly bobbing in unison, passively waiting to be reclaimed, launched into activity by the ever-pressing river current.

        Her initial reaction was to retrieve just one of them, but this intention was soon thwarted by the presence of a tall, darkly clad man, who had been quietly observing her from above the river. It occurred to her that he might know something about the dismantled, floating instruments, but as she motioned towards him he turned and slowly walked away.

        That evening, during a hearty meal of steaming goulash, she broached the subject with her landlord. She conveyed by a series of basic words and deft gestures what she’d witnessed earlier, down at the river. His reaction was enigmatic; despite their language difficulty he clearly understood, especially when she mimicked playing a violin and its unusual relationship to the river.

        After his initial, halting reaction, the old man placed a finger over his lips; the issue surrounding the floating violins was obviously a sensitive one, probably not a subject to be discussed with a stranger, or overnight guest. She abandoned the subject but her appetite for an answer was whetted, and she inwardly resolved to solve the mystery, certainly before her intended departure the following day.

        She rose early, and as breakfast was still some way off decided to return to the river, hoping the violins would still be at their location. On arriving she saw the river had swept them away; not one instrument to be seen; she felt a mix of both relief and disappointment, however, enshrouded in the morning mist the river was magnificent, its light preternatural, the lapping sound of the water, exquisite.

        After a breakfast of strong coffee and hot bread rolls she bade farewell to the taciturn landlord and his similarly inclined wife. The riddle of the floating violins demanded an answer and thus she headed off in the direction of the church bell, once again tolling out across the village; surely, she thought, the local priest would be more forthright and address the intense inquiry that now consumed her.

        The church was unlocked; she quietly entered, briefly held spellbound by the stained glass windows. The priest, initially obscured by the altar, came forward to greet her; he was in fact the person who’d observed her at the river the previous day. He spoke her language fluently, but there was no need of an explanation, he’d surmised the nature of her enquiry and his story would all but transfix her.

        It transpired that a decade earlier the entire region had been in the grip of a brutal civil war, large numbers of citizens had been killed, mostly men and boys. The village directly upstream was renowned for its violin music, but post conflict these instruments clearly outnumbered the musicians, many future inheritors were now dead, thus the tradition of passing on the violins could no longer be.

        The priest paused before solemnly resuming, explaining to her that on each anniversary of the awful massacre a few of the ownerless violins were carefully dismantled, their sound boxes, by way of ceremony, launched onto the river to wend their sorrowful way through the former enemy villages downstream; it was the shocked village’s only answer to dealing with its unrelenting, collective grief.

        At the completion of the harrowing tale she became overwhelmed and without hesitation, or further explanation, knelt down with the priest. They meditated together, he prayed silently, both immeasurably at one with the river and its sad cargo, at one with the once gifted musicians, both young and old, at one with all the religions of the world, all cultures struggling for peace, at one, at one, at one.

        CD Hunter 2013


  11. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, Chris that is some hauntingly beautifully expressed poem. The former players violins floating down the river is a reminder of what is happening today.
    Thank you so much. Helvi too enjoyed it.


    • chris hunter Says:

      Thanks to both. My flurry of poeticism is over, at least on Magnum Opus.

      River Music came to me in a dream, I often access dreams regarding my creativity. However, I am not a religious person as such, more so I take the position of the traveller in that particular work.

      I look forward to reading ‘Almost There,’ I may even begin earlier than planned, and yes, it is great that you are revising Frank’s Story, the original version I will never forget.



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