Archive for the ‘Gerard Oosterman’ Category

A dangerous haircut.

July 18, 2017
IMG_0874Bowral Ducks

Bowral Ducks

It was suggested more than once to go and get my hair cut. ‘You are starting to look as if sleeping rough.’ This reference isn’t exactly an encouragement to go to the barber. I have often thought of sleeping ‘rough’. Over the last fortnight we watched two TV episodes of rich people experimenting with what seems to increasingly happen in Australia, homelessness.  A few TV people were assigned to imitate the lot of those unfortunate souls that are forced to sleep outside. What was lacking in the TV show of course was that those who did sleep outside for a few nights did this out of choice, and not out of necessity. The TV cameras followed them at all times and this made it all look a bit frivolous and silly. A kind of ‘Master-chef’ and it even copied the lining up of the participants in between the ‘sleeping rough’ episodes.

My idea of sleeping rough was awakened during our walk to the State library last year in the middle of summer. Martin Place in Sydney was full of the homeless sleeping rough but it had become a well organized ‘rough sleeping’. A kitchen had been set up and as far as I could see, the homeless made the best of a desperate situation.  There was hot food, tea and coffee, and most seemed to have reasonable shelter, either by small tents or overhanging awnings, sheltering them from rain.  It also had a book exchange for those vagrants with literary aspirations.  A most innovative idea. There existed an atmosphere of brothers/and sisters united in poverty and in spirit. Tenaciously they hung in there.

Martin Place of course is one of the most prestigious open squares in Sydney and millions of visitors walk through this lovely Town Square each year. It is surrounded by expensive shops and during lunch one can see smiling stock- brokers and Van Heusen shirt wearing criminal lawyers churning and belching their rich lunches down. It is indeed a spectacle of opposites in this Martin Place that the observant walker or tourist might well witness.

But…getting back to the impending hair-cut. I always go to the same barber. It is a franchise. You push a button and out comes a ticket telling your number in the queue and how much time will lapse before one gets the hair-cut. I was lucky and had to wait just twelve minutes giving me a chance to walk around my little local town-square, alas without homeless sleeping rough.

A solid girl was assigned to my head. I told her to try and envisage the state of my hair about eight weeks earlier and take it from there. I also told her to use comb nr 7 which gives the hair cutter some idea of preferred length of hair. Once I had taken out my hearing aids and taken off my glasses, peace and quiet reigned. I noticed she sniffled a little but otherwise she seemed a healthy woman and I felt confident my head to be in good hands.

As the girl with her cutting implements did the rounds she did suppress a few coughs and at one stage took herself off to a small backroom. I could hear her racking coughing loudly. On her return I put her at ease and told her that the winter is certainly giving people colds. A bit of a silly statement but without hearing aids I could not really risk engaging a conversation  that was destined to be difficult, especially when the poor girl was obviously having a bout of flu. I felt confident in my being risk-free with having taken the precaution of the yearly ‘flu-shot.’ At one stage and after another suppressed cough, I noticed her wiping a string of nasal expelled phlegm onto her black apron. I had quickly averted my eyes away from the mirror opposite me not wanting to further embarrass the situation.  She looked at me if I had noticed anything. I did not let on I witnessed this generous nasal expulsion.

I have now, and still am having, the worst flu episode ever. Totally Crook as Rookwood and am so full of lemon and honey, bees are buzzing around. What a bore and proof that flu shots are no guarantee against not getting a cold.

http://grammarist.com/usage/as-crook-as-rookwood/

 

The story of Bookshelves and Yassmin Abdel Magied’s demise.

July 12, 2017

Image result for yassmin abdel-magied

 

Apart from Dad’s struggling with the Victa lawnmower and keeping the kerosene-heater’s wick trimmed, he also bravely accepted the lack of books. He once asked in his usual contemplative tone; ‘Gerard, have you seen any books about in our neighbourhood?’ I must admit that at the age of enjoying my first hormonal drives at sixteen, I hadn’t thought much about books. I was a keen admirer of Jules Verne in Holland, but he slipped away after arrival in Sunny Australia. I had to make and work over-time, save money for the future. My Father followed his previous remark up by his observation that, at Mrs Murphy next door, he hadn’t seen any books at all. ‘Mind you, we have only seen the kitchen so far,’ he added optimistically.

It was mainly through my Mother’s persistent and holtz-hammer method that we had even achieved this penetration into neighbour’s next door’s kitchen. It were those minor achievements that made life bearable after our arrival. My parents keenly trying to make a home in what turned out for me to be a most dismal suburban few years. If ever a far flung Sydney suburb shone in neatness and pride with its occupants soaked up in total fenced-off privacy it was Revesby’s McGirr Street in 1957.

We had involuntary chosen to live in the epicentre of  lives , that can only be described, as being agonisingly slow, lived in extreme political ‘niceness.’ It was out of ignorance more than choice. One had to settle down and own home was a fever that still sweeps through Australia as I write.

It was painfully normal and desirable but I could not understand its bleakness. The struggle after arrival was to quickly buy a home, and if possible this home had to be close to a railway-station.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-11/yassmin-abdel-magied-says-she-feels-betrayed-by-australia/8699138

The lack of book issues that Dad grappled with did not really get resolved. I suppose it must have faded in his memory after their return to Holland in 1974. Like salmons flopping upstream to return to their spawning grounds, Mum found again the familiarity of her Dutch neighbourly cosiness and Dad his bespectacled friends peopled by books while questioning Dostoevsky or the bitter Holland weather. In his old age, he once reflected that it just wasn’t the lack of books but that the available book-shelving that he finally spotted in the New Country were used to store garden herbicides or rat poison, with tools for keeping the grass short , all ready for the next assault on unruly weeds which were kept for the ready on the back-veranda.

And now in 2017, decades later, has Australia  grown wiser more inclusive and accepting of differences? Have the kitchens of ‘give and take’ opened up? No one certainly needs to feel deprived of garlic, and the kebab has taken a strong hold at country fairs, even as far away as Coonabarabran. The meat pie however is under threat and in our town of Bowral it was felt by the Municipal Council to hold a week in which to praise and celebrate the meat pie in order to re-invigorate its proper culinary position at the head of the dinky-dye Australian dining table. Time will tell, but some fear the worst and are nervous.

Our PM certainly tells us we are the most tolerant and most culturally diverse nation in the world. Most of us have foreign blood surging through our veins, but, he does also direct us to not go all funny and foreign after arrival. We do need to genuflect and hold to the True and long held Australian values. We must not allow too much foreignness. Foreign blood ought to be directed and channelled to follow well proven roads and he urges us maintain certain ‘values.’ One of those values that must not be tangled with is the Anzac Value. The value of war and battle fought during the world wars. The battle that defines us most as a people and a country must never be forgotten. This is the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey.

History tells us coldly, this battle was a disaster and Churchill should never have given this order. Today it would most likely be seen as a war-crime. Australians were massacred by the thousands… and it was totally avoidable. Of course, it is argued that those thousands that died on those salty Turkish beaches should never be forgotten, hence, ‘Lest we forget.’ One of our true Australians, Yassmin Abdel Magied agreed, but  thought as a considerate and passionate believer in justice for all, that we should also include in remembering the plight of those in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and  Manus and Nauru. This was seen as a breach of being good and true ‘Australian’. It was heresy. You don’t muck about with Anzac day, it seems.

After weeks of bullying and pestering, with posters being plastered about for her to be ‘taken-out’  and that she should be deported or at least sacked, her address, phone and Facebook taken away, she finally had enough and plans to go and live in England. She claims that Australia is only tolerant if one ‘toes the line.’ It seems that the extreme semi- literate racists Pauline Hansons,  and Jacqui Lambie are the really nice Australians.

Yassmin is a trained engineer, female, a Muslim Australian, well educated and speaks better English than the previously mentioned racist politicians. She is an asset to Australia and a beacon for tolerance and inclusiveness.

What a great pity and loss for Australia.

The question is; Where does this hatred come from?

Lady Macbeth.

July 11, 2017

Image result for Lady Macbeth

 

Here is another masterpiece of a film. At least, it was for us. Even though set during the 1865’s  Victorian England, it very much has a Russian tinge to it. The settings are beautiful and for those who love to dwell on stunning setting, here is you chance in savouring them. They go on endlessly. This is your film. It deals with an impossible marriage between an older strict man who expects the wife to be as compliant as linseed- putty. She rebels and takes terrible revenge, but here the devious MacBeth story unfolds as her love to a younger and passionate man turns (as always)  impossibly tangled. *****

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/lady_macbeth/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/apr/27/lady-macbeth-review-florence-pugh-william-oldroyd-peter-bradshaw

 

Is Sport overrated?

July 9, 2017

 

7659422-3x2-340x227Child detention

Northern Territory detention centre for children

It wasn’t all that long ago when men and women were sometimes referred to as ‘sport’. Howyergoing ‘sport’? wasn’t all that an uncommon way of greeting. It sometimes still is used. Most countries enjoy playing sport but many if not most  men and women in this country hold the view that sport in Australia is absolutely sacrosanct and not to be fiddled with. Per capita we used to win more Olympic medals that most other countries. Thankfully that has come down somewhat lately.

In fact, going to the school halls of both public or private schools one gets the impression that schools are there mainly to teach students sport. Those large varnished boards nailed to the hallowed walls at school’s community entrances have the best of student’s sporting achievements all carefully emblazoned in gold-leaf lettering. One looks in vain for the best Math or English language students. The more prestigious the school, the more attention given to sport.

Perhaps the economy is impacting those expensive boarding schools now, but in the cinema we  get shorts in which schools advertise their academic menus which more often than not feature boys, and sometimes girls, scrumming around with balls or hockey sticks. I have yet to see school advertisements whereby a book features or a student is pensively looking at a painting.

This why it is so heartening to see that cricket is coming to its senses. Apparently some ‘tours’ are in doubt. There are payment disputes. It is all too complicated for some of us to get to the finer points of the ins and outs. I have always found it a baffling game of two teams wanting to get ‘in’ only to then, when finally ‘in’ ,wanting to get ‘out.’ With the dispute still not solved there is a good chance we will enjoy a nice Christmas without the tedious drone of cricket scores filtering through the vertical blinds.

But, the real bonus, nay, the icing on the cake, is one of our tennis players openly admitting he is ‘bored’ with hitting the tennis ball. What clear-sighted honesty. Such boldness in admitting that hitting a ball backwards and forwards isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Surely, the king is starkers underneath all that emphasis on sport. A footballer who hit another one out cold has now been banned for life playing his ball- sport and is charged by police. Sport is clearly overrated when belting each other on and off field is the norm. Look how often enraged tennis players chuck their rackets. They take it all too seriously. Calm down boys and girls, smell the roses!

In a previous post I suggested that winners should be those that come last. It would calm sport down to what it should be. A concern and care for the opponent rather than a selfish need to be a ‘winner.’ I know that we are all urged by our Government to be winners and not losers but a fact remains that per definition a winner is just a single person. It is a silly aim. How does that fit in with being a country that prides itself on being egalitarian and just?

Look at that sad spectacle of a previous female champion tennis player, reduced now to simpering loudly against those that want to get SSM married. She has lost love for her own kind and that just isn’t  good ‘sport.’ No matter what physical sport one pursues, it is all doomed to slacken with age. And then what?

Our attitude to the refugees on Manus and Nauru sits strangely in all this chest-beating of what it means to have true Australian values. It just isn’t good sport, is it?

What it means to support and stand up for Australia. Have those values been allowed to drift away? Are the values of an Italian or Pole so much different? It all smacks of a silly form of nationalism. I noticed Trudeau from Canada publicly and loudly telling the world Canada  welcomes all refugees.

What would I not give for our immigration minister Dutton or our leader Turnbull to come out strongly for the refugees and for once show what it means to be a ‘GOOD SPORT’ and allow them to live in Australia instead of all the horse trading with America.

Australia before the arrival of garlic.

July 8, 2017
IMG_0920 the potato bake

The long lost Leek for potato-bake

Many upright and still standing older burgers of Australia  cast the occasional nostalgic look back to the Australia of the yesteryears.  They were uncomplicated years, and we stood up for Queen and country. One had the school assembly with the accompanying waving of flag and wafting through most schools was the sacred banana sandwich with at most a slice of Devon as close to Continental compromise,’  as  allowable under the White Australia policy. Till the seventies, all thing British were strictly adhered to. We were more English than the English and all enjoyed Yorkshire Pudding at Christmas and pulled crackers on New Year’s Eve.

https://www.google.com.au/#q=the+white+australia+policy+definition&spf=1499498124507

If I remember right it were the arrival of boats from Southern Europe in the fifties that spelt the beginning of the end of this peaceful Australia. True, we were already accustomed to the many from the Magyar background which Australia tolerated reasonably well, especially when they were found to be rather deft hands in Real Estate and building fancy Continental Restaurants.  In Sydney’s Double Bay one could already in those early nineteen-fifty years enjoy a real percolated coffee and with some calm discretion even order a goulash or some other European  dish. I remember an upright frumpy matron from outer suburbia of Wahroonga getting up calling for the headwaiter while pointing to the plate of steaming goulash demanding in a shrill voice to know why on earth it was so hard to put ‘ good clean AUSTRALIAN food on the table.

The Hungarians came from persecutions not that that prevented many Austrians and other  migrants from Slavic bordering countries claiming the same, even though some might well have held some rather dubious posts in the former Wehrmacht but at least they were white and that is what mattered above all else to Australia during those turbulently difficult  but yet yawningly placid years.

It were really the Italians and Greeks with their Garlic importations that changed the previous benevolent mood in Australia away from mother England and all things British. The first garlic clove was introduced by Luigi- Parresone of Palermo who started a fruit shop in Sydney’s Oxford Street. It was Oct the 30th, 1957, on a sunny afternoon, when garlic for sale was first spotted by an irate true blue Australian just coming out of the cinema which was adjacent to this fruit shop. This man had already loudly complained when the first of some cinema goers refused to stand up while the strains of ‘God save the Queen,’ were being hammered out on the Hammond Organ at the beginning of the film which was An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr. This refusal, together with the garlic proved too much to this upstanding Aussie.

It was later claimed that garlic and the Euro influenced refusal to stand up for the Queen that accurately predicted an ominous decline in our much beloved Anglo culture. This odoriferous garlic soon permeated throughout much of the good country of Australia and even reached Broken-Hill as early as 1959. It was said to have been introduced by Croatian migrants from The Snowy Mountains Scheme that drifted to the outback; first to Mount Isa and then to Broken Hill. They were difficult years and the police had to be called when battles broke out between  pro- and anti garlic mobs in King Street, Newtown. Brick were thrown, shops burnt and universities with professors seething with discontent..

Today, Garlic is totally accepted into the Australian cuisine and as much liked as the much beloved brown coconut encrusted Lamington cake during those earlier times. Indeed, we now enjoy food from all corners of the world. Vive le difference is now our catchcry.

The banana and Devon sandwich pervasively permeated primary schools remain a curious remnant from the past,

as was the final jettisoning of the White Australia Policy.

 

The Aboriginal Artist and her Treatment in “Utopia.”

July 6, 2017

untitledUtopia

 

Her paintings have been shown around the world, yet this artist is forgotten, slowly dying in poverty and misery.

Have a look; http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-05/utopia-aged-care-kathleen-ngale/8651086

 

Doctor will see you now.

July 4, 2017
IMG_0696

The sun is out.

It is surprising how it has turned around. Years ago, if one was crook, doctors would do home-visits. Before doctor’s arrival, Mother would give the house a peremptory clean-up with the toilet-brush swirling vigorously around the bowl, then a quick flush. All was aired. The kitchen given a quick scan and dishes put away. The patient, one of us children, would lie prone in bed wearing a suitable pallor, indicating the illness was genuine, dispelling any doubt he or she could have gone to the Doctor’s Practice instead.

Most doctors now have moved into collective groups and in my own case it’s almost like going to the pictures. One enters a large building with doors sensing patient’s arrival opening up, before your trembling hand is even within reach of the glass. Germs are well contained within the patient’s own bodily confines. This collective groups of doctors are now called ‘Medical Centre,’ all housed under the same roof. One almost expects the possibility of the Centre  to address other issues as well, perhaps selling vacuum cleaners or prosthesis’.

For the over seventy-five, the driver’s license can only be renewed after an obligatory medical test. One of the questions I faced a few weeks ago was; if nurturing ‘suicidal thoughts’ were obvious. I can’t imagine a patient entering Doctor’s office with a length of rope scanning the ceiling for any suitable hooks to hang oneself from. How does one nurture suicidal thoughts ‘obviously?’

Of the few times I see a doctor, there are always rows of patients seated next to each other in the waiting-room. I am idling some time away trying to figure out their ailments. A bandage here and there makes this guessing easy. It get’s a bit tricker when nothing apparent is visible. Last time I noticed a woman with a very red face as if she had been the aim in a beetroot throwing party. She could have high blood pressure. With healthy men I wonder if they are seeking a repeat prescription for Viagra, especially if they look a bit tense or shifty. I believe Viagra ordered on-line is risky. There have been cases where the Viagra was just an aspirin with the patience of the partner finally running out and romance flagging so sadly.

My Medical Centre waiting room had a number of rooms attached in which the different doctors would see their patients by calling out their names. Of course, with average patient’s age ripening, the hearing aids feature plentiful. That’s why doctors now call out the names much louder than let’s say 10 years ago. It won’t be long and doctors will hold high, boards with names on it.

My waiting room has an aquarium with listless gold-fishes just swimming around oblivious to any ailments or physical shortcomings of the surrounding people. At the bottom of this aquarium nestles a Tudor castle and some plastic trees. What disturbed or factious genius thought up building a castle underneath water and then proceed to drown trees? No wonder the gold-fish are listless. Above this  watery oddity is a TV screen giving patients now a second options in loosing their minds. This TV is showing the local temperature interspersed with a quiz testing medical knowledge. One question asked if flu was caused by bacteria or virus? Most of the questions gave three or four possibilities or answers. One had to guess correctly by answering  a, b, c, or whatever.

The TV is not really looked at. Even the elderly are checking their iPhones now, bent over little screens, little sighs sometimes escape.  Getting old is not without sighs.

Years ago we held wild parties. I remember a woman coming out of our bedroom, totally dishevelled at 4am. She had crashed out on our bed. She woke up and ambled into the lounge-room where some of us were still going on, rambling about politics or the state of the Vietnam war. ‘Is there another cold one in the fridge,’ she asked? We never even knew who she was or what she was doing. That’s how casual it all was. It did not matter, she had played the piano earlier on. Not a care in the world.

Now, I am sitting in a waiting room at a Medical Centre also wearing hearing aids. What’s going on?

 

Dropping a bombshell.

June 30, 2017

phototulips

When Cardinal Pell declared some years ago, that the health hazards of homosexuality were worse than that of smoking, he sure showed his cards. The fact that as a priest his anti gay stance drove young aspiring men to suicide did not seem to trouble him the least.

Pell will get his trial and no matter the outcome, the catholic church is receiving a king-hit right now. It cannot risk losing support from their own staunchly conservative anti-gay, anti same sex marriage of ‘true’ believers, nor from those that were hoping that this new Pope would finally steer the church into a more progressive direction. It is a real dilemma and a nightmare. One can just imagine the battles being fought between the younger progressive cardinals and the concreted conservatives. I would not be surprised it coming to fisticuffs with mitres flying about, littering the Vatican’s corridors.

I reckon the Pope would have been tossing and turning last night. A restless sleep. He needs all the advice that his most trusted cardinals can muster. The whole Vatican must now be seething with anxiety, lawyers getting copies of briefs, ready for the Melbourne procedures. It is clear that Pell’s TV appearance last night was already pointing out at great lengths that ‘character assassination’ and ‘media gossip’ will be used as one of his best modes of defence. It might be argued that his trial cannot possibly be fair when so many allegations of sexual abuse have already been ‘relentlessly’ aired and tried by the media. Against that is the belief that ‘no-one’ is above the law, not even the Pope.

My own parents gave it all a miss many years ago. Mum reckoned she would have used the pill if available in earlier years. She was a great supporter of her own children later on choosing the number of children they wished to have. It begs the question, if the pill would have been available in my parents time, some of us might now not be here to tell the tale! The bombshell when I announced my plan to travel to Finland to get married was received with total mayhem and utter despair. “You used to be such a nice young man, Gerard,” was what my still fervently believing catholic inspired mum told me. Dad was more understanding or just less orthodox. Either way, the idea of marrying a girl they never met, was  much less of an issue than the fact she wasn’t ‘catholic.’ It was one of the most irritating questions we were asked by mother, when dating a girl; Is she Catholic?

I would like to think that my trip to Finland might well have been the catalyst in their slide-down into becoming ex-Catholics or non-believers. It was slow in coming but gathered speed as the years went by. It had a liberating effect on my parents. The final knock-out blow to their Catholicism was delivered years later, when they watched a TV segment whereby their former ‘nice-boy Gerard’ was interviewed about his recent vasectomy. There could not have been a more enthusiastic supporter for the cut to the vas deferens, than my mother.

The surgeon was Barbara Simcock. I read years later that she performed thousands of vasectomies.  What she doesn’t know about testicles is just not worth writing about. The seventies was just the beginning. Vasectomies become so popular the term vasectomania was used. It still is the preferred method for male contraception. Just type in ‘vasectomy’ and one gets the most mouth watering invitation from dozens of clinics offering a host of very tempting procedures. One even offers a three-day trip on a luxury liner.

 

The mind boggles.

 

1000 Posts! How did that happen?

June 27, 2017
1,000 Posts
Congratulations on writing 1000 posts on Oosterman Treats Blog!

The ice-box.

June 27, 2017

Image result for Ice box

 

I remember the ice-box. In fact I used to collect the ice block from the ice-house on my bicycle. The ice block would get wrapped in a hessian bag. On the ride home the evaporation rate of the hessian was slowing the melting of this ice block till it reached the safety of the ice-box.

In 1956, electric fridges were rare. It was unknown and not really needed in the cooler climates of Northern Europe. After our arrival in Australia mid-summer, we had to find ways to keep food from spoiling. We quickly bought an ice-box. From memory, this box was made of wood with a internal lining of galvanized sheet metal. It had some shelving to put the food on. The ice block was placed on the top shelves with the melting water drained directly in a dish on the floor.

The top model ice-box was the Kelvinator. People used to gather around the kitchen and praise the Kelvinator. Now the discussions are about ‘Smart TV’s.’ We did not have the Kelvinator ice-box with its brash studded snappy locks and hinges. I think we had a hessian rag hanging in front of the ice-box. It worked well. My mother kept the beef-mince, butter, eggs and even bread in it.

After a year or so using the ice-box our family made a giant leap forward with a fridge that used a small kerosene burner underneath the fridge. It was called a ‘kero-fridge’ and the envy of many a migrant family. At the yearly outburst of a suburban unrestrained  jollity  at ‘bon-fire night,’ (Guy Fawkes) some neighbours, after a couple of outside beers, confided they too managed after years of struggle to get a ‘kero-fridge’. It did not take much to make for happiness then.

“Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!  (bon fire jollity and Guy Fawkes)”

The kero- fridge used the heat of the burning kerosene underneath its solid bulk to cool the inside of the Frigidaire. This type of fridge worked remarkably well. If the fridge was in a good mood it could even freeze the mixture of milk, sugar and vanilla powder into an ice-cream. Dad used to be very chuffed when that happened. He sat in a chair in front of the fridge, smoking away while waiting and staring at this fridge to perform this ice-cream miracle. Again, entertainment was home-made. Who to-day would still watch a fridge making ice-cream? Not many, I reckon. Most walk around in a daze watching IPhones or Blue Teeth. Who would have thought that the world’s people now spends most of its time watching a phone with blue tooth capabilities?

It’s different now.