A southerly is a coming.


Moscow University.

With the unrelenting heat finally ending with a solid promise by BOM ( Bureau of Meteorology) that the temperature is set to drop by  ten degrees over the next hour or so. It is early yet, but a southerly change is coming! We have been mainly inside during the last few hot days, spend reading or on the internet. I discovered a book picked blind-folded out of our book shelves. It is ‘Fathers and Sons’ by Ivan Turgenev. отцы и сыновья иван тургенев

It is large brown coloured hard cover bound and published by Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow, and even has coloured plates of the different characters pasted in between the pages. A beautiful book to look at even without reading the words. But talking about Moscow. Moscow’s university is so big, that even if one spent just one day in each room, your life would not be long enough to have lived in each room. The statistics are staggering.

Many years ago I visited Moscow and St Petersburg. I wrote about it in ‘Frank Story’. Here is ‘n extract from the visit to the Hermitage Museum.

“It was the next day, when we were all ready to be bundled into the bus, with Natasha our guide, and remarkably, also the two Queensland girls who came to Russia to ‘shop and drop with two enormous bags’, to do the visit of all visits, namely, ‘The Winter Palace and The Hermitage’. It seems inconceivable enough to have gone through life without having experienced those two icons, but to have visited Russia and not to have done so, an unconscionable offence. The so affable and unrelenting larrikin of our Aussie Moscow librarian took yet another turn and this time serious. He became seriously ill, out of breath and appeared to have a heart attack. Within a few minutes an ambulance arrived and he was taken to hospital. He, sadly, would miss out on his Hermitage experience, which he had told me, he had never visited during his stint at the Moscow library. We, after this short delay were whisked away and soon arrived at the Hermitage Museum. Much to our surprise we were led past a queue at least a kilometre long and invited through the gates within a couple of minutes of our arrival. Was communism with its heart supposedly embedded in the welfare of its proletariat already slipping that fast, to now give preference to rich foreign cashed-up capitalist tourists?

The Hermitage Museum with The Winter Palace defies anything that I had seen so far, even the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Not just the buildings but the space in front of it. The sense of what space can add to buildings is nowhere as clear as that of the Red Square in Moscow and the huge square in front of The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. So, by the time you reach the front of the buildings you are already in awe of whatever there might be inside. I suppose, this is also when you approach Sydney’s Opera House when viewed from the expanse of the Harbour.  The Hermitage Museum houses over 3.000.000 pieces dating from the Stone Age to the 20th century and presents the development of the world of culture and art throughout that period. You cannot possibly do justice in spending a few tourists’ hours but, alas, that is all we had time for.”

But let me finish with a beautiful poem;

Those Shadows.
Here’s a Song;

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree;
Be the green grass above
with showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

( Christina Rossetti 1830-1894 )

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25 Responses to “A southerly is a coming.”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    See? There’s another difference between our places in the world. We long for “northers” to break the heat, while you await southerlies. I hope by now it’s arrived, and you and Helvi — and the rest of your city — are more comfortable.

    I’ve always enjoyed Russian literature, and we read a good bit more even in high school than I think our youth are exposed to today. And of course David Lean’s film Dr. Zhivago turned us all into passionate, Russia-loving romantics when it first came out. When the Cold War was pitted against the cold of that film, the film won, hands down.

    I didn’t realize the Hermitage collection was so vast. When I have an odd bit of time, I believe I’ll explore it. I wondered if they had made a virtual tour available, and it seems the answer is yes.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The Southerly has arrived and giving blessed coolness. We put in air-conditioning two years ago. All new dwellings ought to have both heating and cooling as part of the structure, like roofs and walls…

      The Hermitage was overwhelming and to just have a few hours is silly, but better than nothing. Unfortunately, I needed to use the lavatory and had to run through lots of Imperial rooms and past world’s most famous art-works. Rembrandts ‘The Prodigal Son’ flashed past me and his eyes were following me.

      In Moscow we watched Porky and Bess, (Gershwin) which I loved. Everybody goes to the theatre in Russia, or so it seemed when I was there. No shopping though and the girls from Queensland who were part of the group bitterly disappointed.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. auntyuta Says:

    About an hour ago the change has arrived here in Dapto, Gerard. There is a lot of thunder in the distance. The sky is overcast. So we opened now all our windows letting a beautiful breeze come through! 🙂 During the morning we had 30C in all the rooms of our house. But now the temperature is slowly dropping.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The change has arrived here too. I was on the way to Coles when it arrived. We are visiting our daughter Natasha tomorrow. Our grandson Tom has been offered a place at Sydney university. We are so proud.
      30C inside seems very hot. I remember a hot summer after we arrived and lived in our parents newly build house. It was so hot I ended sleeping outside on the concrete path. Of course, then the mosquitos came for a blood-feast.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. berlioz1935 Says:

    The Russian pepole are very culturally minded. When I was a child we were told they are subhuman (Untermenschen). There is a great movie “The Russian Arc” totally set in the Hermitage . It shows Russian history.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Berlioz.
      The Russian students on the bus almost knew more about Australian literature than I did.
      On the train Moscow-St Petersburg (Leningrad) I was almost carried around when it was discovered I painted pictures.
      It is the same in Finland. Teaching and art are very respected.
      Here we have our own brand; mainly sport.
      Despite all that, or because of it, Australia has produced top artists. Patrick White and Sydney Nolan spring to mind.
      We saw the Russian Arc. A great movie.

      Liked by 2 people

    • freefall852 Says:

      Berloiz..my father, who came from the Dolamites complained that the weather in Aust’ was “workable” all year ’round, whereas back in the mountains of Nth Italy, you’d be snowed in for several months so you had to make your own entertainment with songs and stories etc…I don’t know how they’d go in this country being shut up in one house for all that time…I mean…there’s only so many chorus lines to : “Up there Cazaly!”….

      Liked by 3 people

      • berlioz1935 Says:

        In Russia too Winter can shut down everything, especially in the country. In the big cities of course the people can peruse cultural entertainment. The Dolomites are mighty mountains and there is nothing like that here in Australia.

        Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Ah, The Dolomites. The Austrian part of it, at Lienz around 1962/63.

        I had skied down the mountain and the snow had melted and then froze over again.My skiing became uncontrolled and I fell hard. My nose bore the brunt of it and blood poured copiously. I broke my glasses.

        A young woman approached me and gave me comfort. In my dazed and befuddled state, could think of nothing to say except; ‘you have beautiful eyes.’ She said,’ Yes, I know.’ and looked me straight back.

        That totally floored me. We exchanged addresses. Some years after we met up again and, the rest is history, as they say.

        The girl with beautiful eyes (still) was Helvi from Finland.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. freefall852 Says:

    I have only known a few of those eastern Nordic peoples..mostly Latvians…but there was this other chap used to drink down at the Seaclif Hotel for a short time..I don’t know if I have told you this before..but…oh well..

    Jasper was a “Balt’ ”..ie; he was of those states centered around the Baltic Sea..perhaps he could have been Estonian…he was a tall ponderous sort of chap…with a long serious gaze, with one of those what are called “lantern jawed” faces. He always spoke in a slow , carefully chosen word way..I don’t wonder many philosophers came from the Baltic States..Jasper appeared to put a lot of thought into what he said before he said it…but then he didn’t ever say much of great import.

    “You gotta watch those ‘Balts’ “ Jack Mitchell warned..’Ooo..they’re trouble..those bloody Balts”.

    He always wore shorts in the summer..not short shorts like a footballer, but loose baggy ones to the knee. He would sit at the bar pint in hand with legs crossed in a peculiar effeminate way..that is; with his legs entwined like women do…and he would stare incessantly at one person or spot before delivering some profound statement.

    “Michael”..he announced out of the blue one day “Michael..would you tell your girlfriend to stop staring at my legs…I know I haff good, manly legs…but could she please not to stare at them so ?”

    Of course , Mick was astonished and choked on his beer…Tracey, Mick’s girlfriend, was outraged and put on one hell of a show…Jasper was nonplussed by the whole affair and just commenced to roll a cigarette with his slow ponderous methodology.

    Jasper had huge hands…big fingers more suited to blacksmithing or a farrier for draught horses than what he did do…but no-one knew quite what that was as he was an awful liar. Jasper’s toil at rolling a cigarette was something to watch..he was so clumsy with those big hands that it was quite a chore that exasperated him at times.

    One day a “airy” young lady sitting next to him at the bar took out of her dilly-bag one of those automatic cigarette rollers where you place the paper then the tobacco, then lift or flip the lid and a perfectly formed “rolly” appears to greet you. Jasper, ciggy-paper stuck to his bottom lip watched this magic with deep concentration, his big paw all the while shoved deep into the pouch of tobacco…as he watched, the ciggy-paper fluttered with his breath on his lip…he detached it and addressed the young lady.

    “That is a cleffer machine…a vonderful machine …where did you obtain it?” he asked in his slow deep voice.

    “Well I didn’t steal it if that’s what you mean?’ The young woman replied.

    “ I vas not accusing you, madam…you look like a honest young lady..an honest AND attractive young lady…perhaps later I would like to get to know you in a more familiar way..I like you..and I like your machine..I am asking where you haff purchased it”…

    The following week, Jasper was seen to have one of those machines ..it would sit at his elbow on the bar next to his pouch of “Drum” tobacco…Jasper now had a contented look on his face, and he would gladly demonstrate the marvels of that machine to anyone who asked..and many would take advantage of his hospitality of the proffered resulting cigarette until he woke up to the fact that he was being taken for a ride…philosophers are like that, they learn fast!

    Jasper disappeared out of our lives as quickly as he appeared..Late one night he asked Mick for a lift home on the back of his 1000cc. Suzuki…Mick delighted in putting the fear of god in anyone silly enough to ride pillion with him..Jasper had no sooner settled himself on the trembling machine and informed Mick to drive carefully as he, Jasper, was…and that was the last we heard of Jasper as Mick took off full-throttle and it was impossible to tell if it was the roar of the motor, the squeal of the tyre or the Joe. E. Brown howl of despair from Jasper as they disappeared down Yakka Road toward Sth. Brighton.

    But he never came back.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    Bravo, Jo. Well done.
    Talk about publishing. Are you a published author, Jo? I would think so.
    My dad smoked Drum and at one stage had one of those machines to roll one. Was drum not made by Douwe Egberts, the Dutch company also known for its fine coffee.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. freefall852 Says:

    No to the first and yes to the second….on the tobacco thing, down at the Seacliff Hotel, there was an inordinate amount of impoverished blokes that had to smoke rollies as they could rarely afford packet cigarettes….I had a mate in those days who could get over 90 rollies (of descending quality) out of one 2oz. pouch of tobacco…it was an art form.

    On the writing business…I too have only “self-published”..in the most crude form..ie..I had the long-hand written stories typewritten out and then photocopied down to a phamphlet/booklet thingo that was stapled and folded..much like any “penny-dreadful”…but only around a half dozen or so that I gave away or asked for photo-copy / booklet making costs…I did that with four little collections..

    I did enter a competition once..but only once..it took so long to run, that I started getting anxious that my story characters would become lost in some sort of intellectual wilderness…I think I did start to fret for them…Now, I am with you in that I only write for myself or some people I can hopefully entertain as I get older..unfortunately, the blog I used to put things up on, I have lost faith in and will now no longer put anything there or go there at all…

    I suspect that my stories and things will pass away with me…my children hardly even know that I write things…likewise many of the family or friends around me…it’s wierd in this country..as you , yourself have mentioned..art is not to be trusted in this country…they are certain it is “up to something”….trying to trick them into “feeling” or something else just as nasty!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I once entered a prestigious literary competition with different categories. Lots of form filling. The book had to be a published work in hard print. It included having to give six copies to the judging committee. Helvi and I took the train to Central Station in Sydney with my books all packed in one of those trolleys on wheels.

      We walked all the way, in the heat, to Martin place and beyond to the State library. I duly passed my books to the desk clerk.
      That was the last I heard of it or rather nothing was heard at all. Not an acknowledgement or even the results of the competition. This was a couple of years ago. It must have been a very esoteric competition.

      I wonder where those six books ended up?
      I did receive a request for my book to be listed at the National Library in Canberra and that was nice. They even bought and paid for a copy.

      Liked by 3 people

      • freefall852 Says:

        Yes..it is a obscure process, the literary competition thingo…I hesitated a long while before I thought : “why not..ay least I will get to know if my writing has ANY merit”…after all, I would say most honest amateur artists create with honest intent to depict a moment or situation close to their emotions….But giving it some mature thought, I have to surmise that most competitions seek less the artist’s deep intent that the “art’s” political or social approval and acceptance of the times…less ; “Art for elucidation’s sake than Art for marketabilitys sake.”

        Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        I am over the moon when someone tells me they enjoyed reading some of my bits and pieces. I now give books and spread them around places such as cancer- wards and hospital waiting rooms. I do this when no-one is looking. Most of those places have shelving for people to donate books or exchange them.

        After our arrival in 1956 my dad missed seeing houses with books and shelving. Our elderly neighbours next door still houses his books in the garage. I suppose a form of keeping things ‘tidy’. You never know about books, Jo, from whose mouth those words have come from. Gotta keep thing clean!

        Liked by 3 people

      • freefall852 Says:

        In my Darwin days, I would order particular books I couldn’t get in Darwin from Adelaide…I was “caught” one day reading Nietzsche’s “Ecco Homo”….and a few days later I was asked in all seriousness by a drinking mate if (by reading THAT book) I was a homosexual…..It’s cruel, iddn’t it?

        Liked by 2 people

      • freefall852 Says:

        I am not certain if this is the same “Grattan” as the “doyen of journalism” of Aust’ MSM…but it could have been in “another life”.

        Ms. Grattan, on the other hand, could well fill the role of librarian..not in a state library, nor local council or university, but rather one of those ‘lost around the back-streets’ “Institute Library” of some anachronistic group..like ” The Ancient Order of Druids” or the “Oddfellows Society” or in her case ; “The Steam Engines Assoc’ Institute Library”.
        In her younger years, when she first started there, she was known as an innovator of style…she is recognised as the instigator of the “clutch ‘n’ carry method” for librarians carrying books..a colour-tinted photograph of a much younger Ms. appeared in the “Woman’s Day” magazine of Feb’ 1953 demonstrating her unique grip on a large load of books..she has a copy archived at home and a yellowed-with-age cutting prominent on the wall behind her desk.

        She also gained a mention in “The Binder”, an inter-institute mag’, on her innovation of using different colour “tags-for-topics” on her Dewey-filing system….THAT also is archived and a cutting etc…
        She has no time for ‘untidy’, chatty people and denies she ever “encouraged” Mr.Glanville Bartlett to propose and never regretted placing Sam “side-valve” Duggin’s donated complete ‘Biggles’ collection on the “For sale…cheap” table by the front doors..citing one particular book ; “Biggles Sees it Through” as a title rather too racy and suggestive for HER library!
        She is still “in situ”.


  7. freefall852 Says:

    P.s…I didn’t come close to winning that competition…


  8. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Christina Rossetti’s poem makes me cry. So poignant. So beautiful.
    I hope the Southerly arrived and cooled things down.
    Am I in an Northerly? It’s snowing here right now.
    OH! The places you have shared about seeing sound so amazing and breathtaking! You are so fortunate to have experienced all of that and soaked so much wonderfulness in!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it is a lovely poem, one of my favourites together with W H Auden’s poem; ‘You were my East, my West’ etc.
      So glad and pleased you mentioned the poem. Thank you, Carolyn.

      We haven’t travelled much lately. Years ago we contemplated living in Bali. A true paradise of Hindu culture and daily ceremonies.

      Hugs, Gerard

      Liked by 1 person

  9. freefall852 Says:

    Gerard..I was reading snippets and things about your two books…They sound interesting and witty…I wonder why it is that some writings are picked up and get a good run with the public, media etc. and others just as good do not get the same go?…It’s almost like you have to be part of a “network” that knows of ones art…
    You remember that “Albert Facey..: A fortunate life.”…that was a good yarn and it got a good run..but the poor bugger was almost one foot in the grave by the time it got out!…It seems such a waste of good stories..


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, but the books should have been presented better, written better, and the editing professionally done. But it doesn’t matter. I enjoy writing, ‘Hapley I may write,
      and hapley I might sell…or not.

      Some people plant trees. I plant words and spread them to my best ability.
      Thank you, Jo for your kindness.

      Today my dad died at the same age I am now. A few more hours and I have outlived Dad. Yippee.

      Liked by 3 people

      • freefall852 Says:

        ” Today my dad died at the same age I am now. A few more hours and I have outlived Dad. Yippee.”

        On his walk to the senate house, Julius Caesar met the Auger who had predicted his demise on the Ides of March..as Caesar came abrest he addressed the auger..:
        “Auger!…as you see..the Ides are here..and so still am I!”..to which the auger replied..:
        “Yes, Caesar..the ides are here..but they are not yet gone…”
        The rest..as they say. . .
        Best of luck, Gerard..


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