Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Home Alone.

January 22, 2012

a Golden Oldie.

Home alone
Gerard Oosterman

Mention the word ‘table’ (tavola) to an Italian and the implications are clear: family, food, laughter and above all, the excitement of conversation. The word ‘tavola’ could easily bring tears to any red blooded Italian, having been away too long from home.

But, mentioning the word ‘table’ to an Australian and someone might ask: Ikea, or have you inherited a “Parker Table”?

(This of course is not the only difference between Aussies and the European or other nationals. But, as they say in Russia, Viva La Difference!)

A curious form of isolating oneself, at times, from the outside world persists here more than anywhere else that I know of.

Perhaps the words ‘Own Home’ demonstrate this difference. Am I right in thinking that those two little words would conjure up for Australians what the word ‘tavola’ does for the Italian?

The words ‘Own Home’ for us Australians is the need for the world of absolute ‘privacy’. Perhaps, to our Anglo forbearers, their ‘Own Home’ was their castle – up with the drawbridge and just in case of anything or anyone unwanted, they had the back up of a moat to keep out intruders, including any unannounced visitors.

While the drawbridge and moat have gone, we have substituted them with the paling fence, and now the impenetrable colour bond aluminium partition fence, blocking even the remotest chance of seeing a neighbour, or worse, a neighbour seeing us.

Some ‘own homes’ now have total block-out metal electric window shutters. Perhaps in the future they will do away with the need to have any windows at all.

The need for ‘privacy’ seems to overwhelm everything, even when it means blocking the glorious country views and light. Perhaps they are impatiently waiting to jump into bed for a bit of an old fashioned quickie, but so would the red blooded Europeans, would they not?

With the culture of one’s ‘Own Home’ comes another curious phenomenon. You rarely actually see anyone outside in their gardens and I am buggered if I know how Aussies maintain their gardens so spotlessly. The petunia borders are all weed free. The lawn is in absolute submission and not a leaf is allowed a minute’s rest in the guttering.

Back about fifty years ago, we lived in a new Sydney suburb called Revesby, near Bankstown in NSW. A neighbour would, at weekends only, climb on his roof and sweep the shiny ‘Wunderlich’ glazed tiles clean of bird shit, deposited generously by my brother’s pigeons. It was the only time we actually saw him outside, ever.

These days, if you want to see people enjoying their outside garden areas, one has to go to the suburbs of mainly Italian or Greek inhabitants. In Sydney, the Middle Eastern areas are probably the best place to see outdoor activity – people hanging over the fence, kids playing on the streets, the burning of rubber by over-excited youths, and a general feeling of excitement or ‘things happening’.

Now we come to the tricky ‘Unleashed contributors’ bit. Is it also this ‘privacy’ thing that sees so many people writing under nick names, often even changing their names as they go along? Is it safer to write something a bit controversial under the guise of a nick name?

I hope I am not under some kind of danger here. Am I doing something wrong or should I start writing under another name as well? Surely, the comforting umbrella of the ABC’s Unleashed forums will keep us always safe.

What is the answer to all this nonsense?

In the Name of the Father and the Holy Dollar.

January 18, 2012

Has anyone read the shemozzle over the attempt by Melinda Tankard Reist to charge Jennifer Wilson with defamation? The SMH has been running stories over this latest stoush between the Goliath of the anti abortion-anti-homo-sexual and anti- porn priestess and Dr Jennifer Wilson’s with her blog ‘No Place for Sheep.’ The online commentary is running hot, twittering and tweeting falling out of the skies and many bloggers looking nervously at their letter box or for the sheriff with a Court writ to arrive. Dr Wilson is faced with either conceding and apologizes or waits for the writ to arrive. It might all be bluff and the letter from MTR’s legal firm a mere scare tactic. Even so, it is rather unnerving that threatening litigation has reached such ridiculous levels and with so much ease.

Dr J.Wilson is a small David compared with the Goliath and the hordes of right wing disciples that have been on the MTR side. We all learnt both biblically and mythically that David won out. A groundswell of M/s Wilson’ supporters are growing by the minute and so are the pledges of support, both by hearts and minds and from generous wallets. The extraordinary feature is that Jennifer Wilson has been running her blog for over two years and that both on her blog and her articles on The ABC’s Drum; the issues between Jennifer, MTR and the many contributors have been in open. At no stage did MTR object or put her, supposedly, opposing viewpoint. Not once a single peep or a hum out of her. By the threat of legal action MTR definitely did not turn the other cheek. She did not have to. She could simply have stated her point of view.

Now, all of a sudden and with nothing much of substance given, accept by some very vague marsh-mellow like few words, M/s Wilson is given the threat of legal action. It is not within limits of acceptability that Court Action is ever the only way of responding to opinions that have been widely given and discussed by many, including on the ABC and over a long period.

Surely, the Courts have better and more significant issues on their books.

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Go Back Where You Came From. ( never darken our doorstep again)

January 17, 2012

This is now the well entrenched refrain echoing around Australia’s colour- bond fenced off and secluded suburbs. It took us years to get where we are. We are proud of having our own homes, own children, own wives, own Holdens, world’s largest T-bone steaks and we all love our sporting heroes. Never mind those millions displaced through wars or famine. We need security first and if people come here and expect a hand-out, they’ve got another thing coming.

We have forgotten that bit about being a nation of migrants who often came here also from wars and famine. The ‘reffo’of the forties and fifties was also vilified and denounced as knife pullers, garlic munchers, women pinchers and with hairy armpits to boot., but that was a long time ago and Australia was different. Our hearts have ossified since through the long and relentless ranting by politicians with a keen eye on voters. Shock jocks renting the airwaves; have put on the final touches, richly nourishing our dormant xenophobia of years long gone by.

We now have reached new levels of anti ‘illegal’ boat people opinions morphing into ‘facts’ after every bit of Murdoch’s publicity. Those strange looking people, wearing flowing white garments and whose men are bearded have the nerve to arrive unasked and uninvited at our shores. We will continue locking them up without trial for years on end. Deterrents are what we finally aim for. We massage our residents with messages of “all boat people are violent and terrorists, hell-bent on bombing our lovely brick veneer homes and life-styles.” They are also very rich and as a matter of course destroy their birth certificates and all identity papers.

Fortunately we also lock up dozens of children. We know they are not children by x-raying their wrists.

We don’t believe their Indonesian parents or other relatives who tell us that they are still children. They all lie and are all potential illegal future terrorists. Never mind that those children back in Indonesia are sorely missed by parents and siblings. They are also missed for not being there to help out. Often survival is a daily struggle. They do not have large T-Bones. That’s why some were lured on those dangerous ocean boat journeys. It would bring some food on the table, perhaps even an opportunity to give the children the chance to go to school, learn to read and write.

Our intelligence service is not answerable to anyone or anything either, above the law, taking a leaf from North Korea perhaps? People are escorted ‘back to where they came from’ with many questions asked by asylum seekers supporting lawyers, but remaining unanswered. ‘A murderous regime’ is always elsewhere but not here in the land of our dreams, with jailed children and locked away boat people, languishing and out of sight and miles from care or conscience.

The dangerous journey in rickety boats is a last resort for many of those that have already languished in many other camps, often in countries that are overrun by tens if not hundreds of thousands refugees. No one wants to leave home and hearth. As some of them have said; better to drown at least with trying. We have nothing more to lose.

Go back where you came from.

The Art of avoiding bad dietary Habits

January 12, 2012

The latest news to alarm us is that obesity is threatening to outperform malnutrition. The numbers of overweight in this world are overtaking the underfed and hungry. How can that be? At the same time I read an article whereby it was suggested that at cinemas there ought to be healthier snacks available. The suggestion seems well intentioned but would it not be better to avoid snacking altogether? It can’t be that hard going without eating for just a couple of hours. Is it true and a fact that eating has become part of all our physical activities? We can now only walk, drive, catch buses and trains, talk, read, watch TV and movies and even lose weight, but only if we continue lifting our arm to mouth to put something in it. We are as yet not eating while sleeping but I am sure the Multi National Sugar & Fat and Salt (SFS) merchants have their best scientists working on it.

Go to the chemist and the window display will have dietary advice that mainly advises buying more food from them. Sure, it is food the chemist (on his podium) claims slims, but this can’t be as effective as refraining from taking food altogether. They are not there to tell you not to buy anything from them, are they? This is the problem; obesity is so much part of our well oiled and lubricated economic machinery. The giants of Coca Cola, Cadbury, Nestle, Mars, PepsiCo, Big M, KFC and many others would take a dim view if fingers were pointed at them being responsible for one of the most serious health issues of all times. Tinker with those boys and next you’ll have an ‘OECD Spring revolution’ as well. It is not all that farfetched to envisage thousands of the very large bodied on the streets, yielding petrol loaded Cokes and giant Chico rolls rioting, causing mayhem and destruction. They are now totally addicted to eating, chewing, masticating and getting larger and larger. Both the SFS Multi Nationals and their addicted disciples have a vested interest to keep the status quoi.

It will be one of the most interesting future events to watch. How will health organizations tackle this perplexing dilemma? It will be a fiercely contested battle with the western world already fighting a severe economic wilting; it will take brave politicians standing for health above economic growth risking further shrinkage of their voters consuming habits. The problem is that those consuming habits are so consuming it is killing them. At some stage we might have to consider the possibility that our lifestyle of consuming endless SFS products can’t be beneficial if many die as a consequence. What’s the point of economic growth if the country is littered with the dead or premature dying of millions from the effect of a booming economy that approves known deadly foods?

Of course, there are some signs of brave politicians emerging from the cauldron of indecisiveness and loathsome neglect, willing to take action. Was it Denmark who was first of the block cunningly raising revenue on fat, and lowering obesity? The Danish SFS merchants screamed blue murder, enraged with the imposition on eating habits. This is a censorship of some kind, they shouted. Where is the freedom, our freedom to eat what we like? No, said the sage Government, not if it kills.

On the train yesterday was a large man whose stomach was rolling over his shorts. He seemed in a deep sleep while resting his left hand on a bottle of Coke which was balanced upright on his enormous knee. Every now and then he would wake up somewhat startled take a sip out of his drink but promptly went back to his slumbering state again. I couldn’t help but feel but feel that the sugary drink was his umbilical cord keeping him still alive. At the railway platforms the machines that sell those drinks charge $3.20 for a coke and an astonishing same amount for plain water. What would happen if the Coke was $ 6.40 and the water free? The extra $ 3.20 raised could go to those thousands in hospitals with the results of Coke poisoning. The wiser ones would quench their thirst on the free water and be so much the healthier for it, having beaten their addiction. Those pernicious tuck shops at school, the bane of my mother’s discontent when we all went to schools. What’s wrong with my cut sandwiches, she asked? If we were really brave, surely those tuck shops would have disappeared by now. They are nothing but a stepping stone to obesity. Why, have those at all? Is snacking in between meals not one of those physical habits that have become so entrenched? In no time at all, does the snacking school kid turn into a full blown victim of bad dietary habits.

If we are serious about good eating habits, let’s get rid of snacking, just for starters mind you!


December 30, 2011

There can never be the act of ‘creating’ when it has already been pre-conceived, totally digested and worked out. This is the problem faced to those that want to have a go at anything original or creative. I don’t pretend to know much about the act of creating but have given it some thought and reflection after some of my own efforts in doing something ‘new’.

Many years ago, and in the middle of unprecedented spending on art, artists and all things ‘creative’ in The Netherlands during the seventies, I was given the task of running the art section of a school loftily titled “ Creative Development for Adults”. It was supposed to install or perhaps re-install the ‘creative’ instinct into those adults that were brave enough to enroll. Dutch society would be the better for it and a new ‘Golden Age’ would inevitably rise up again.

After a well appointed art section was built, from the smallest brush to huge kilns, drums of clay, shelves full of art material, etching presses, copper plates and lithograph stones weighing tons, I was introduced to a class of adults, mainly females. My skills in teaching were mainly in the area of being somewhat vague and unsure of how ‘art’ could be taught at all. Of course, skills and technique can; but Art? Fortunately, I had enjoyed a few art courses years before by artists who generally let you muddle along while they went to the pub. This stood me in good stead
I have yet to meet children that are not creative but the tragedy is that so many loose that when growing up into ‘responsible adults’. Go to an exhibition of pre-school or first few years of primary school kids’ drawings and it is always so surprising to see all that talent pinned up to the wall. See the kids at 12 or 13 and already there is a change into conformity and expectations for others, a keenness to be the same as others, be approved off and become accepted. The creative part seems to be dripping away. Why is that?

My part in teaching those adults was trying to get them back to the stage they were in as young kids. The most common few words that most of them uttered were: “I can’t do that”. I used to challenge them and say, “How do you know”. “Most of you would be fighting to do a painting or drawing when you were four or five; what has changed?” You don’t know till you try. There were adults that could not bring themselves to physically put a piece of charcoal to paper. Let yourself go, was the answer. Don’t be afraid. Go on strike a crooked line; don’t wait for the paper to come to you. Just do it!

Finally most of them just loved doing the course and after many years I still have contact with one of them who has become an accomplished painter with many exhibitions both in The Netherlands and other European countries. Just have a look at her work:

Many years ago, art was a very strict discipline. The Julian Ashton in Sydney school still teaches art as a strict discipline. One will spend months on getting a mere hint of a shadow right or years perfecting the painting of a single petunia. The results, in my opinion, are that students become so disciplined their work loses all creativity and the work becomes boring and repetitive. The need for accurate reproduction can now be done perfectly with a good camera. So… why not just paint, sculpt, potter, write, photograph or do anything,…. create by letting go of all pre-conceived ideas and just do it….Create something new….

Je ne regrette rien

December 28, 2011

A picture of life’s wear and tear.

Sooner or later, more often later, we ask: was it worth it? Those that have pictures of themselves aged 7 or so and after some very quick decades and many years, turn 70, sometimes also wonder how it all went. How did they fare? Did expectations get fulfilled or are there areas that are now pushing themselves into our conscience as having been somewhat lukewarm, unfulfilled? How come I became seventy so quickly, is often asked by those perplexed by the suddenness of it all?

Did my own delving in expectations so many years ago throw up anything that could have been done a bit better or has it all pretty well been done to a level of reasonable satisfaction? I suppose it depends on the individual and what they set out to do. If, at the first stage one wanted to become a rocket scientist but became a bus driver instead, one could surmise that it all turned out a bit insipid indeed. Strangely enough or luckily enough, most boys and girls want to be bus drivers or secretaries rather than scientists.

My expectations or ambitions were never along those lines. When very young I just wanted to play and have fun. To become a rocket scientists or an accomplished pianist was never on my horizon. In fact, even today, I can’t remember ever having had burning ambitions to become anything. I left it far too late now to join the police force or become a timpani player for Sydney’s Symphony Orchestra.

Of course at 7 years of age one really doesn’t easily have a need to become a rocket scientist nor a bus driver. I read yesterday though that a young genius had already finished a university course at seven years and another could play the complete works of all Mozart’s piano concertos at eight and half years. So, where does that come from? What could one possibly have gleaned from a photograph taken at age three or so indicating a future rocket scientist or a Mozart pianist?

I was taken by a photo of a very young girl looking out into the world. Her arms hanging down parallel to her body and looking at the camera with her face slightly askew as if she expected something to come out of the camera. At such young age everything is new and full of surprises. There hasn’t been time yet for things to have repeated themselves. All is exciting and nothing is repetitive or boring. The forest are still full of mystery, oceans full of lurking monsters, mountains to be scaled, smells to be inhaled, foods to be tasted, music and art to be discovered and friends and people to be met and made. All is virgin-fresh experience and all is new. The girl looking at the camera might well have expected something to leap out of the camera.

When that same girl reaches old age and we scan a recent photo, one still recognizes that same face, that same girl, but something has changed. The face has filled up with what that life offered her, gave her, and often also what has been ‘endured.’ The photo reveals the journey of life not unlike a car that has traveled a long distance. There is grime and dust, ‘wear and tear’; doors are squeaking and the steering somewhat unsure or wobbly, the tyres are worn and rust in the mudguard. We have become a product of life and for many; life has now turned into a merry go round of oft repeated experiences. There, for many, a truth is starting to emerge every time they glance at a mirror. It’s called ageing, but not just of body.

While there are still undiscovered areas of experiences, it is sometimes a lacking of energy to go out and discover and delight in ‘the new’. Fatigue has set in and the realization that one edges closer to an extinction of some kind. If anything still needs doing, time has become of the essence. For the frantically energetic and fanatically ambitious, this can be a trying time indeed.

But with that ageing, a wisdom or insight might also finally got born (to the inclined to wisdom) that what has not been achieved is not all that important anymore. It has come about that there is now so much more past and what is behind, rather than what still might lie ahead. With advancing years we gain the dubious but free ‘luxury’ of reflections rather than worry about what might still have to be achieved or done. We have become experts at creating the experience of wallowing in life’s final rewards of ‘pleasure’. We can sit and relax, look at the ducks or ride a bike around the park. It’s rather refreshing not having to achieve anything anymore, except those things that make the day a pleasure to have gone through. At the end of the day there is the reward of having ‘had a nice day’. That’s all that’s required now.

Perhaps, it was Edith Piaf who understood all when she sang; je ne regrette rien.

My first Christmas at Revesby

December 23, 2011

Christmas in cold climates involves snow that covers rooftops and streets. It deadens noise and yet has a sound that defies reasonable description. Perhaps the closest is when in olden times and at funerals of kings or queens, the drums and sticks would be cloth covered and the rolls became muffled. This gave somberness to the occasion fitting the importance of the procession of the uncontrollable grief sobbing of thousands following the coffin. Not that I can actually remember ever having followed a queen or king to a grave, nor having witnessed grief sobbing of thousands, but it reads rather nicely, don’t you think?

For me the Christmas was the time for our dad installing a real Christmas tree which was always a prickly spruce bought a few days before. The tree would be decorated with candle holders that had to remain reasonable upright having to carry the weight of the candle. This was always tricky, especially when the tree aged and dried out and branches started to hang. The tree was supposed to last till the three kings met the fallen star. Now, my religious memory might be a little hazy or unsteady, but was this a period of 30 days? Anyway, in our family the tree would be exploited till the very end of festivities. This was usually when snow had melted, the toys either lost, eaten or broken, and we had to go back to school.

Going back to the candle holders and hanging branches. It was inevitable that we would experience a dying dead and tinder dry spruce on fire. My dad in his pyjama and early in the morning got up out of bed and without a word, grabbed the burning tree, opened the window and hurled it outside from three stories high. The burning tree ended up in the chicken coop belonging to the tailor living at the bottom floor, much to the consternation of the chickens. Those living at the bottom floors were always the envy of the neighborhood because they had a garden and could keep chickens. We had been playing with matches and had lit the candles, one of which had sagged and started licking the dry branch and needles near it. I think that the burning Christmas tree might well have been the catalyst for my parents’ idea of migrating elsewhere.

After the ensuing migration and settling in Australia’s Revesby our first Christmas was different. The spruce morphed into a pine with long needles and for us less gracious looking. My dad went about decorating the tree, but now very wisely, changed to electric lights. Instead of snow (and muffled drums) there was heat and flies. The congregation in the church smelled of beer and there were huge moths flying about the size of small birds. There was a hellish noise coming from the bark of some giant gum trees in the next garden which, at that time still had an old farm house on it. At night we were bitten by mosquitoes. We missed the snow!

Later on, and after some years, we learned to associate the noise of cicadas, the giant bogong moths and the smell and cheer of beer and prawns, the glass of a chilled Barossa Pearl with mum and dad, the friendly neighbors with the pouring of foaming beers from brown longnecks and the sticking of Christmas cards through venetians to be part of a Christmas just as joyous as the ones left behind. As kids we soon got tents and started to discover beaches and Blue Mountains, 22 rifles and rabbits and some years later, motor bikes and sheilas with concrete ‘lovable’ bras. Dancing lessons from Phyllis Bates and The Trocadero in George Street. My first ‘dipping of the wick’. The Christmases’ became associated with all that and more.

It is just different, that’s all.

Making for change. (Get rid of shock jocks)

December 15, 2011

Dear Gerard,
Kyle Sandilands is a shock jock — in fact, he’s paid to be offensive. So when he called a journalist a “fat slag” and threatened to “hunt her down”, he probably expected the online and media storm that exploded to quickly blow over like it had in the past.
He was wrong.

Immediately after his bullying comments, recent graduate Emily Hehir started a petition calling on advertisers to boycott his show. What followed was an incredible 30,000 signatures, a mass exodus of over 60 major advertisers, huge budget losses for Sandilands’ radio station, and relentless media pressure. Finally, last Friday, Sandilands and his radio station were forced to issue a formal, humble apology.

And while he’ll be back next year, it’s clear that Kyle, his radio station, and everyone in broadcast media have seen what happened when he went too far.

Together, Australians have shown that society won’t tolerate abuse, bullying and misogyny from those who have a voice in the media. In fact, it’s now clear that tens of thousands will act against any individuals, stations, sponsors or advertise rs who explicitly or implicitly support this behaviour.

Emily’s campaign has now been covered by The Age, SMH, The Australian, the Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun, Channel 10’s The Project, Channel 7 Nightly News and hundreds more. It has cost Sandilands’ radio station an estimated $10 million in lost revenue. Holden, Vodafone, Telstra, The Good Guys and over sixty other companies pulled their advertising from the show.

You can bet hosts, stations, sponsors and advertisers have taken notice.

The success of this campaign is a sign of something different that’s beginning to happen all over Australia.Every day, people are taking a stand on local and national issues that matter to them — and they’re winning.

Like Emily, you can start a campaign on something you care about through at any time. Start your own campaign by clicking here — or see below for petitions others have started that need support right now.

Thanks for being part of this,

Nathan and the team.

P.S. Here are some other campaigns on that need your support right now:

1. Leslie Heussenstamm lost her home and business in the recent Margaret River fires that resulted from poor management of a controlled burn. Join her campaign to prevent such terrible fires from reoccurring.

2. Sandilands hasn’t heard the last of this petition — some supporters have vowed to do ongoing work into 2012. You c an take a pledge to join them by clicking here.

3. Son of a Vietnam veteran, Nathan Thomas, is from Tony Abbott’s electorate and is calling on him to allow a conscience vote on gay marriage for the Liberal Party. Nathan’s campaign is starting to get picked up in the media — sign Nathan’s petition now.

4. One of Tasmania’s last and most beautiful wildnerness areas is under threat from open-cut mining. Join Kirsty Albion’s campaign to have Minister Tony Burke grant the Tarkine National Heritage Status.
Who is
We’re a platform that allows anyone, anywhere to start, join and win campaigns about issues that are important to them.

We put the best social change technology in the hands of passionate people everywhere. You can use the platform to have email automatically sent to a decision maker every time someone signs your petition. You can recruit more people to your cause, and regularly update your supporters on the progress of the campaign with our easy to use website.

More than 50,000 petitions have been started on the site, and every day, people are winning campaigns on important issues. Click here if you want to start a petition on right now.

“Boredom”, a new artform.

December 12, 2011

“Boredom”, the modern Art form.
My father used to say that if you are bored it is because ‘you’ are boring. They were wise words. Parents knew more then. If fifty years ago someone would have said that in the future a majority of people would spend a large part of their lives staring at small square objects, they would have called for a strong nurse with a straightjacket and some tablets. My parents would probably conclude by saying, “you and the whole world have all become boring”.

Yet, today this has become the norm. No matter where one goes, it is the same sad sight. There they are, all stooped over their IPod, IPad, Kindle, mobile phone or some other small square object. It seems to have overtaken all in its path, a tsunami of hundreds of millions worldwide stooping down, staring at their laps, oblivious of climate, people, geographical situation or indeed life itself. Who on earth would have thought it even remotely possible?

How did this come about and why? Years ago, we used to talk, look at each other. Do you still remember the sound of words when people opened their mouths? We exchanged ideas became animated and bounced of each other’s differences and enjoyed social intercourse. Trains and trams had passengers that talked, used real words with utterances of sounds. It’s eerily quiet now on the train, heads bowed in obedience to the square gadget. People and voice connectivity has now been replaced with a set of electronic devices which connects us, supposedly, to a different level of public togetherness which is called ‘social media’. We have books now which instead of words in a certain and highly individual order, as in the past, have now been replaced with ‘face books’. It’s all part of this phenomenon of ‘social media’, and is a world- wide movement keeping us ‘in touch’. In touch with what? In touch with that square object in your lap, isn’t it?

Together with keeping in touch through the new ‘social media’ there has been a marked decline in children on the streets. There is no more need for that because they all keep in touch with each other through their electric Face- books. It even shows a picture of your friend, what more could you probably want from friendship? You exchange sharp little messages, such as “I am here, where are you”? Or, “how many friends have you on Face-book?” “I have thirty six now, but have dumped Sharon”; “she is such a bitch”. “Have you still got Sharon on yours?” Nah. (Three months later Sharon has hanged herself).

Of course, interconnectivity is what we are all on about. We connect as never before and have even become intimate with our TV, also involving it with our need to socially be ‘involved’. Rhythmically we sway in front of it, our Wii consoles talking to us, interlude and interactive with music, keeping us in touch with ourselves and as an extra bonus keeping us fit. A newer version has hit the market. It is a device that mirrors our movement in front of the TV. This is so great for involvement of many of us with immediate proof of it and directly in front of us on TV and our own eyes. Think of it, hundreds of millions in the most extraordinary physical contortions in front of the TV all busy with ‘media’ in one form or the other. And then there is all that texting and tweeting to get involved with. It just never stops with all that ‘socially connectivity.’ It’s all so much me and more of me.

At school drop-off’s and pick-ups, again the same world of those little square devices, mothers, sometimes fathers, all on their e-phones, texting while waving a hand to their off-spring. How will language as we know it survive? Tweeting limits itself to one hundred forty characters. In days gone by, the art of writing was abandonment in using words not counting characters.

Mind you, there is light at the tunnel. Already the innovation in pushing more of those devices onto the market has calmed down. Perhaps, the limit has been reached. After all, we cannot just phone, but also e-mail, send pictures and locate where we are, all on the one gadget. What more could one want? It seems that apart from ‘astral travel’ electronically, the end of this rather silly ‘social media’ might have been reached.
In my area, the local skate-board park is busy with kids queuing up. Are they getting fed up with all those little gadgets? I sincerely hope so. Kids are not boring but those addicted to ‘social media’ are. They are so….. utterly boring.

Train trip

December 7, 2011

The train trip.

We recently discovered an even better train service to the city of Sydney. It’s the 8.17am leaving Bowral but only has the 3 stops to Central. Not that it is much faster. Arrival is still at about 10am at Central, but at least it bypasses many stations, this gives an impression of speed without really achieving it. It gives one some Schadenfreude when the train races past many station’s platform showing a blurred image of anxious looking train travelers.

We undertook this trip yesterday. I got up early, made the coffee and some noises in order to rally into action my ever patient partner of many years. She knows my ways. Train trips I always look forward to as opportunities for new discoveries and are anticipated with great excitement. They certainly were in my youth when I, on numerous occasions, took boat Trips to Europe on Italian Liners belonging to the Flotta Laura fleet. After landing at Italy’s Genoa, I would continue by train, which at the time was the Continental Express. Mr. Diacomo from Cooks & Sons in Pitt Street always booked the journeys including the European Continental Express. The boat trip including the train from Genoa to Amsterdam or Stockholm cost 120 pounds! (240 dollars)

After we bought our tickets at Bowral yesterday, the train promptly arrived. It was a long train and surprisingly the windows were unscratched and carriages spotless. We noticed a few elderly couple who, no doubt like us, were scheduled to travel to Central Station. While the Bowral-Central run is hardly in the same league as the Trans Continental (or The Orient Express) it is still a train trip and for the inquisitive can still yield surprises…

One of the surprises was the number of elderly couples. Where were they going, and why, seemed a question that I kept asking myself? As usual with elderly couples, the woman partner seemed to lead with the male one happy to follow. Why is it that the ageing male gets behind the eight-ball in their final run up to the finish-line? Is it hormonal? Women tend to outlive males. Go to any old age retirement village such as ‘even-tide’ or ‘autumn leaves’ and it is rich pickings for any widower. The magazine for seniors is full of ads from fascinating women seeking living males, NS, ND, and NG but still kicking!

Back to the Bowral-Sydney express we discovered after arrival at the Country Trains Terminal in Sydney there were hundreds if not thousands of elderly couples, all carrying similar red coloured bags with ‘senior’s printed on it. My curiosity knew no bounds, especially when a live band was playing in that big arrival-hall, right next to the female toilets. There was a triple queue for the female toilet yet no queue at the males. This seems fair; if the female outlives the male there is at least some balance in knowing that outliving the male causes the female more frequent toilet stop-over’s in their dotage.

Anyway, the mystery of so many elderly couples arriving from all over Sydney and environs with those red bags did not get solved. On the way back to Bowral, there were the same elderly couples. The same dithering husbands, stooped with age, looking even more bewildered, skinny vacant trousers bums but resolute stout wives, indefatigable leading all the way. “Sit here”, they would tell hubby. After coming home I googled ‘seniors with red bags’,’ senior’s festivals’, ‘senior’s outing dates. All to no-avail.

We enquired about the phenomenon to our Norwegian neighbor. Oh, she said,” it’s the annual Sydney’s Town Hall music for the elderly. They give a live concert each year. We should make a date to go next year.

There you go.