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Cricket, The art of a miraculous Mystery.

December 5, 2011

Posted on December 4, 2011 by gerard oosterman

I have shown my colours by the title already. I confess my bias. It’s not in my gene. Having had sixty years of watching, especially on the ABC, for hours, days, years of cricket news and footage, I am as far away now as I was at my youth in understanding cricket. The ABC news seems to always have had a special fondness for cricket reportage. When I arrived in Australia there was no TV as yet, no worries; the radio, especially towards the Christmas period would belt out cricket day and night.

On my walk home from Revesby rail station after work, I wondered what that steady radio drone was coming from behind those venetian blinded shuttered windows. Also at work, the radio would sometimes be on and the workers, if the boss was not near, would be standing around the radio, fixated by that same drone. When I had mustered enough courage and English, I finally asked. What are you all listening to? It is cricket, don’t you know, I was told.

Now some sixty years later and retired, not in my wildest most fantastical dream or nightmare could I ever have foreseen ending up living at the very epicenter, the Mecca and Nirvana of cricket; Bowral. It is where cricket has soared to heights where even the South American Anaconda or the wedge tail eagle in Australia would ever dare to venture. Fancy ending up being confronted almost daily with something that has steadfastly refused to become intelligible to me even after all those years?

Don’t you know, Bowral is not just home to the world’s most famous cricketer ‘Donald Bradman’, but also now houses The International Cricket Hall of Fame. I doubt that without Bradman there would have been this famous hall ( don’t dare you call it a ‘museum’, it is all very much interactive IT and so on) Click on a date and you’ll instantly get the cricket game of that date all the details, who was out and over, all the runs, ducks and no-balls.

A ‘cricket tragic’ I am definitely not. There are tragic ex cricketers though. There are seats that surround this famous cricket ‘pitch’; (I know a few terms) they are rather nice wooden seats bolted to small concrete slabs. Those seats surround the cricket field and are behind the white painted picket fence that seems to surround cricked fields everywhere.

Screwed on to the back-rest slat are modest brass signs displaying the names of people who have donated the seats with names of famous dead cricketers. One of those appeared to have died very young. In my quest for detailed trivia I asked an informed and true ‘cricket tragic,’ about this person and the reason for his early demise. “Quite shocked the cricket world was”, he replied to my question, “inexplicable it was, he was as happy as Larry at the time”, no one could have foreseen or predicted his death, he apparently had enough and opted out! I had heard the term ‘all out’ and left it at that, but not before I took some rest on that same seat to reflect on this sad bit of cricket history.

I am now on a steep learning curve. I have managed so far to kind of ward off any questions about the ins and outs of cricket. No one but no one living in Bowral would knowingly have bought into these hallowed cricket surrounds without some knowledge of this revered game. I know a pitch and have even muttered ‘Bradman was great, wasn’t he’? People nod sagely but look at me askance, just a hint of suspicion raising its head. I’ll buy a book or get lessons, but after so many years, have I left it too late? I understand the basics with knocking off that piece of wood. The trouble is all those numbers. If cricket scores were 2-1 or 5-0, I’d have no trouble. What to make of 20-131 to 13 with 380 runs.

I was always hopeless with math.

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Artist turned hobby farmer,now blogger and writer of tens of thousands of very wise and/or whimsical but hopefully amusing words. All in a certain order.
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Norwegian Woods and Justice

December 1, 2011


We all know that the Norwegian fjords and forests are probably the most inspiring and beautiful examples of nature at its best. Just ask Edvard Grieg or simply listen to his music of Peer Gynt or his four Norwegian dances.
Those young Norwegian people camped out on their beloved island thought so too, till their serenity was cruelly interrupted by being killed. Seventy seven shot dead. A mass killer was on the loose. His name is Anders Behring Breivik. His court case is yet to start but it seems likely he will not be charged of any crime but declared criminally insane and will spend time in an asylum. A 240 page report has been presented to the Norwegian Prosecutors office by three psychiatrists. The assessment was made after thirteen interviews with Breivik.
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/confessed-norwegian-gunman-anders-behring-breivik-found-to-be-insane/story-e6frf7lf-1226209668267

Here in Australia as in England an insanity plea is extremely hard to be successful. We are not so far advanced to accept that sometimes evil is done by sick people, indeed we are still struggling with accepting the idea of ‘mental illness’ and feel safer to lock those up in jail that have ended up doing terrible things.
Some years ago a similar deed was done by a blond Tasmanian. His name was Martin Bryant. Suddenly one Sunday he opened fire and thirty three were dead. It would not be beyond the law of averages to accept that an examination by three eminent psychiatrists would also have found him insane and for the prosecutor and Courts to have heeded to that. No such luck for the mentally ill Martin. He now languishes in a jail cell instead of in a hospital or asylum where he would still enjoy some kind of life. We concentrate on retribution, punishment, forget about insanity, and lock the bastards up, for life, forever, good riddance.
http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/mass/bryant/index_1.html

Not long ago there was another terrible deed by two young children who had walked another even younger child along a railway line, stoned him and killed him. This time it was in England, a country that was still hanging children not all that long ago and sent convicts away from home and hearth to Australia for having stolen butter or bread. The act of legal “Gibbeting” was abolished before the hanging of children which was abolished in 1908.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_the_United_Kingdom.

The two children Thompson and Venables responsible for the killing were deemed to have known right from wrong and charged with murder then sentenced for many years to juvenile detention. England became somewhat divided but generally, the retribution enthusiasm succeeded above that of the principle of ‘doli incapax’ that presumes that children cannot be held legally responsible for their actions.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_James_Bulger

There have been countless books and even more movies made of the case, endless controversy that still pops up including a documentary about how that case would have never resulted in criminal charges being laid in Norway.
Norway’s 1994, in Trondheim, five year old Silje Redegard was beaten to death by two little boys. Today, the girl’s family still suffers and one of the boys is in trouble again- echoes of the Bulger case are clear. The public reaction in Norway has been startlingly different. Here are some of those differences.

The children involved were younger, but the most significant difference was that in Britain, the authorities decided to let the nation of its people judge the child killers. The children in England were tried as small adults and the media did, as they still do today, (keenly in contempt of Court), calmly and deliberately release mug shots and names of the boys. A roar of revenge was a result of the blood curdling and minute publication of the details of the killings. All this media hysteria was whipped up much to the disadvantage of Thompson and Venables, but it made millions by the media and salved the revenge seeking population in frenzy of hate towards the two children, stirred up by that same media.

What the Norwegian case demonstrates that it needn’t have been that way. In Norway, the initial response to the killing of that little girl was that of horror. What sort of monster did this? Revenge was foremost as well. When the news broke through that two little boys had done this, the hysteria for ‘blood’ died down and the case left to run its course without the media getting involved. There was no sensational reporting of the case in the Norwegian press. I doubt whether many of us here in Australia have even heard of this case. In Norway, even the mother Beathe Redergard felt bad for the little boys, even in the middle of her grief for having lost her daughter, because they were just’ little kids’. They were just six years old but even if they had been ten or eleven, it would have been dealt with the same way. Norway forgave and forgot its child killers.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2010/mar/20/norway-town-forgave-child-killers

The names of the two boys were never published, their anonymity have been protected even till today.
Those Norwegian woods will remain witness to terrible deeds, but no amount of the blood soaked soil will ever bring the victims back, nor will revenge on an insane and mentally ill person.
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Will Abbott’s conversion to Islam work better?

November 22, 2011

Well, if Catholicism was going to save us from the evils of gambling or the moral wishy washiness of our leaders, might it be prudent to look elsewhere for answers? All our heavenly hope was vested in a leadership that would be benign, kind and benevolent. So much hope got washed upon the shores of Christmas Island and despite promises that things would change for the better, it just doesn’t seem to have happened. Boatpeople are still languishing for years in detention. Suicides almost part of the acceptance and par for course with being a boat person. That’s what they do, don’t they? We provide them with three square meals, a bed and a flat screen television. If that’s not enough, that’s just tough titty. Go and jump. Our hearts of stone will not be moved.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-19/dramatic-rise-in-detention-centre-incidents/3681630

If we think changing leaders at the next round of elections and chose the opposite side of the road, think again. The flipping and flopping about by Abbott is just so mind boggling, one wonders if his stint with the Jesuits did more harm than good. It is amazing how anyone making claims to having enjoyed a Christian grounding and professing to have a belief in a good and benevolent God can in this same strand of theological forbearance and profound insight and in the same breath also ‘predict’ the rescinding of sensible poker legislation. We know that there are more bad things as well, alcohol, obesity, smoking, drugs and much more that have proven to be so damaging to hundreds, if not millions of people of people. But, we made inroads in smoking but are now not able to take on the pokies. Why not? Where is the God in Abbott?

Perhaps it is time to ask; where is the Allah in Australia? If society is crumbling even with our long held beliefs in Christianity, should we swap for something a bit more solid, a bit more reliable, and a bit gutsier? Of course, no- one is heralding the entry of religion in our government and we all dearly want to remain secular, but it would not be all that silly in contemplating how we would feel having a Member of Parliament, a Minister, if not a Prime Minister, holding Islamic beliefs. What would we feel about a female MP for the seat of Bennelong wearing a headscarf or a white robed Government Minister for defence, for example? Could we cope, seeing we are hardly capable of accepting a couple of thousand from those hotbeds of Islam, Afghanistan and Iraq?

Might it not be wise and prudent to add up and balance some of the positives of Islam and its culture? They are against gambling and would most certainly soon sort out our gambling addiction. They do enjoy breeding and racing with horses, don’t they? So, it doesn’t seem that bad. They don’t want a drop of alcohol (can you blame them, look at us)? Smoking the water-pipe and chewing khat leaves are ok. So is a bit of hashish, smoked or inhaled.

One aspect that seems to surprise many, especially those brainwashed by the extreme anti-Islamists factions a la The Bolts, The Jones and the Ackermans, is the fact that women tend to be far more up front than in many western countries, both socially and politically. Did we not bear witness to the raised fists of so many women during the uprisings in Egypt, Libya and now Syria? We seem to forget that tradition and the prevailing culture determine the role of women more than Islam or the Quran. In Egypt as in some West African countries it is the women who hold the purse strings. Egypt had female Queens, even female Kings and they still have retained a much more matriarchal society that we are so reluctant to give credit for. On the other hand in nomadic societies it might be the male who plays a dominant role with patriarchy ruling domesticity.

So, you see. It is not as simple as we might believe and there are big differences even within the same country or the same religion. Islam is as diverse as Christianity is in our own western world.

We, here in Australia have the Friday night spectre of the pub’s ‘meat tray raffle’, or ‘happy hour’ with reduced prices for schooners. What do you think people from Islamic countries might make out of those peculiar cultural oddities? The pushing of buttons on glittering and light flickering machines by ladies with blue or pink hair could also easily be seen as a strange voodoo like habit. And so it goes on, so many differences but also many similarities. We all share love, sadness, joy, vanity, modesty, greed, brutality, friendliness, hatred, spite, generosity, togetherness, loneliness ET all.

We need to be far more tolerant and informative about the rest of the world, especially when borders disappear and so many people with all sorts of credos are roaming to find peace and happiness.

May Allah be with us also.

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Toilet talk and Walking days.

October 31, 2011

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With ageing comes the inevitable increase in both frequency and urgency to seek the friendly embrace and comfort of a toilet. We all know that, except of course to the foolish young, cavorting under strobe lights and indulgencies of frequencies of a different kind, but still involving bodily functions.

The first thing to do when changing address is to reconnoitre thoroughly the availability of public toilets. I did, and now can safely go for walks without the hand-held GPS for finding, just in case mind you, a nice toilet. The first one is within coohey of our place at the hallowed grounds of The Bradman Oval, The International Hall of Cricket Fame. The toilets are utterly original, sparkling clean and with normal taps (thank God). I often relish the idea, that on the very seat I am squatting, Bradman might well have s(h)at as well. It always gives my day a pleasant tinge. A kind of good and wholesome, optimistic start, how can any day go wrong now, I ponder?

Between our house and the other side of Bowral runs a small river with a concrete footpath parallel with it. Even though it is just a few hundred metres from the main street, it could be miles away. It is a beautiful walk, the river alive with ducks and their ducklings. I take this walk along the creek every day with of course the manic Milo, straining at the leash almost pulling me along to the other side of the creek, totally disregarding my endless urgings of ‘nice walking Milo’, ‘good boy Milo’ and above all ‘no pulling Milo’.

Yesterday, about half way and just after some rain I noticed an elderly man lying in the grass near the water, trying to get up. He also had a small dog, a poodle and a walking stick. He was struggling so I helped him up. He told me he had no feelings in the bottom halves of his legs but also told me ‘I walk for miles every day’. He spoke well and I inquired if he needed some help to get back to his house. ‘I’ll be alright, thank you kindly’, he said, so I left it at that. I thought he might have been in his eighties, perhaps a retired pilot. There seems to be a plethora of retired pilots living here. Perhaps they like to retire higher up. We are about 750 metres above sea level.

Anyway, on my return I noticed him still walking along slowly and on his mobile phone. With the previous feeling of optimism and the pleasant reflection on Bradman and the possibility of having shared the same toilet seat, the mood became somewhat more melancholic. Were the walking days of this elderly gentleman coming to an end? I still have an almost Emil Zátopek zeal in thinking my walking days will go on indefinitely but no doubt so did the elderly gent (without feelings in his lower legs). Was it seeping away from him now?

Sadly, I could not come up with a better solution than the idea that the ‘seeping away towards the end’ will come to all of us, even to those that are now hopping and shimmering around underneath strobe lights to wild tempestuous music.

Enjoy the day. It might never end.

Dodgy Chook Numbers ( How to get hoodwinked by “Free range Market”)

October 16, 2011


Things are hardly ever what they appear to be, especially not in the world of shopping, and in particular, in the world of egg buying. A few nights ago we were jolted into the reality of animal cruelty when a program on chooks and their environs was presented on the TV.

It proved to be an amazing world of deceit, cunning, and hoodwinking of you, the customer. If you thought that buying ‘free range’ eggs made you into a person caring for the welfare of the Rhode-Island Reds, think again. Unlike in the EU where the term ‘free range’ means a minimum of 4sq metres of open space per chicken and a mandatory supply of greenery. Here ‘free range’ can be even more cruel and horrific than caged birds.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_range.

The European Union regulates marketing standards for egg farming which specifies the following (cumulative) minimum conditions for the free-range method:

■hens have continuous daytime access to open-air runs, except in the case of temporary restrictions imposed by veterinary authorities,
■the open-air runs to which hens have access is mainly covered with vegetation and not used for other purposes except for orchards, woodland and livestock grazing if the latter is authorized by the competent authorities,
■the open-air runs must at least satisfy the conditions specified in Article 4(1)(3)(b)(ii) of Directive 1999/74/EC whereby the maximum stocking density is not greater than 2500 hens per hectare of ground available to the hens or one hen per 4m2 at all times and the runs are not extending beyond a radius of 150 m from the nearest pophole of the building; an extension of up to 350 m from the nearest pophole of the building is permissible provided that a sufficient number of shelters and drinking troughs within the meaning of that provision are evenly distributed throughout the whole open-air run with at least four shelters per hectare.[

Free range.
It is different in Australia where there seems to be an open slather on deceiving customers into thinking that free range eggs, which are often 2 to 3 times the price of caged eggs, are somehow produced by happy chickens, freely cavorting and picking their food from open grassy fields. Those EU standards are certainly not applied here. The latest regulation now allows a staggering 20 000 chickens per Ha (10 000 sq Metres). That is one chicken per half a sq M. This in effect raises their stress levels to such an extent it results in cannibalism. No worries, the chooks are then de-beaked which was shown to be done by the young pullets putting their beaks into a feeding tube. Instead of getting feed, they get instantly de-beaked. Footage was shown of the young pullets with bleeding beaks.

If you thought the Australian Egg board would be keen to improve conditions for the poor chooks or at least comply with EU standards, think again. A quick scan through the list of directors reads like the who’s who of some of the largest ‘free range’ operators, egg marketers and producers. http://www.aecl.org/about-us/board-of-directors

Hardly a bunch of unbiased, independent operators keen on improving the lot for chickens. Their main aim is to improve profits not kindness to chooks.

In Sweden, where else, caged eggs have been banned. In many other European countries, main supermarkets, including Aldi, do not stock caged eggs anymore. Al least the ‘free range’ eggs have the legislative back up of a maximum of 2500 chooks per Ha. How come, after so much publicity of late about the plight of chooks, this hasn’t been implemented here? It makes one wonder if the caged eggs are not a better and more ethical deal here after all.

I hope Tony Abbott is not behind all this. He is such a ‘free marketeer’, anything is possible. It’s all such a rort, isn’t it?

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Don’t let Facts stand in the Way of Truths (The getting of Wisdom)

October 9, 2011


We were so comfortable in the knowledge that the universe was imploding. We always knew things would end up to nothing much, just a shrivelled up bit of a rotten core, a tangled mess of imploded food processors and phone chargers. Now, this fact has been un-facted by the latest discovery. Professor Schmidt, our proud Nobel Prize winner reckons we are expanding with increasing speed and the Universe will finally end up a dark, empty and cold place. We are all forever expanding, getting bigger. Blind Freddy could tell you that. Just walk around shopping malls and look at the food-court. Our Nobel Prize winning cosmologist has proven scientifically that instead of magnetic fields or gravity pulling things inwards and slowing things down, the reverse is happening and it is all getting further and further apart.

We were also happy with Einstein’s fact of his speed of light. It was the ultimate of speed, an ultimate fact. Nothing could go faster. If something were travelling faster than ‘c’ (speed of light) relative to a standing reference, we would go back in time, meaning an effect would be observed before a cause. That would be silly. It would mean I would end up with the horror of the 1956 Nissan Hut in Scheyville all over again. It would be paradoxical like an antitelephone. Still, the speed of light was fact. Irrefutable and only flat-earthers would deny the truth of this.

But….No wrong, in Italy, the country that gave the world Galileo, they made something go faster than light, deep inside some mountain range. Another fact dismantled. I think being disappointed in facts is so much worse than in truths.

So, is the truth a worthier cause to follow than facts? The truth is how things are now, not tomorrow or yesterday but now. For instance; it is raining outside and the road is getting wet. This is a truth for now. However, and this is important, if the rain stops and the sun start to appear, chances are the road will dry up. Another truth, but the outcome is the total opposite of the previous one. Isn’t? Still, both hold true and that has to be nice and reassuringly optimistic for the future.

Facts seem to be unreliable and somewhat sticky, changing all the time, just like truths but unlike truths, facts were always supposed to be unmoving, cemented in situ. I wouldn’t trust them anymore. A truth, on the other hand is always there, even though for just that moment. It is so much more comforting, a bit like bed socks. They warm your feet but only if you wear them. If you keep them in the sock drawer, they are still bed socks but their truth of ‘warming feet’ has gone. One expects and (most of us would) accept those changes as normal. No one would object to the truth of bed socks not warming feet if they are not on the feet.

There are truths so true, they are universal truths. The truth of the lentil for instance and its application towards frugality and living simple humble lives is such a universal truth that it warms the heart. Its truthfulness stands on its own and it would be a brave man who would say that a lentil is not true because it is really an apple or a bicycle.

The same for a good drop of Semillon Blanc. The truth of the capsicum lingering on or the lemon tang hanging near the middle palate together with its ambition or its sheer cheekiness, are truths that are unassailable. But again, again this awful but …If letting stand too long in the hot sun or in its glass without drinking, the wine then become less truthful, even dishonestly intemperate. Then the truth (of a beautiful wine) has become spoiled and awful and warped. I would say that this truth then changes in another truth, the truth of spoiled wine. A bitter truth to swallow, but a truth just the same. In truths you can hardly ever go wrong. It just changes all the time and travels with you as you go along.

Truths are deeply personal and always your best friends.

Milo walks the Talk.

October 6, 2011

Posted on October 3, 2011 by gerard oosterman
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If there is one word that really makes Milo spin out, it would have to be ‘walk’. As mentioned before with Milo’s magnificent flying skills, he is now also well advanced in language skills, for a dog that is. Back on the farm, the world was his oyster, his kingdom, his fiefdom. He was outside much more than inside. Here within the limitations of a town-house, Milo too had adjustments to make. No longer can he chase rabbits or stir up foxes. He used to love sitting around the corner of the shearing shed. The rabbits had their warren-home underneath the hard-wood slatted floor and multiplied themselves at amazing rates. Sooner or later, the kits had to leave home. Milo understood that part of life very well. He left home and mum when just a couple of months old. Even though cradled safely in Helvi’s hands on the way from his home in Goulburn to the farm, Milo would not stop shaking. He misses his mum. Poor little Milo!

Anyway, some of the little fluffy rabbits were just a little too daring and unexperienced when it came to being out in this big nasty wide world. Milo darted around the corner like a flash. He held many in his jaws and would proudly leave their bodies on the choir matting near the front door. Good boy, Milo, good boy! Sometimes I wondered though if Milo has a conscience. Killer Milo, a bad boy is Milo. Perhaps Milo knew the rabbits were in plague proportions, better still, he knew and understood that foxes too were lurking around the corner. He interpreted the nightly crying of the vixen’s kits near the river as their need for food as well; conveniently forgetting that he was well provided for and hardly needed to eat a wild rabbit. No, Milo has a deep-seated hatred for rabbits, ducks, magpies and horses too. He isn’t perfect.

Now for his language prowess: “I think I’ll take Milo for a ‘spazieren,’ I’ll say. If I use ‘walk’, he goes berserk. Even, the words ‘going for’ he understands and pricks up his ears. Helvi and I now have to speak German or even Finnish if we don’t want Milo to understand something in private. Of course, when I am ready I’ll just look at him and say it up front; ‘I am going to go for a walk’. He will then look at my feet and knows that no shoes mean no walk yet. His moment of triumph arrives with my feet shod and hands holding a lead. He squats under the door handle and jumps up and down manically trying to twist the handle. No luck so far, but he is getting close. I then open the door and he bolts (sorry for the reminder) out. He has his twice daily walk. I usually include a walk along a narrow flowing creek. He’ll spot the ducks well before me, straining at the lead. If only, if only boss would go off the lead. He would kill once more, please let me… No Milo, leave the ducks…. Be a good boy now.

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Rosaria from Gozo (Aunt Maria and Priapus)

September 21, 2011


The Bovims and Rosaria with Joe, Aunt Maria and the gallery owners lingered on and breakfast rolled seamlessly into a lunch. Huge bowls of pasta and carafes of wine would be carried to their table with lively conversation whetting appetites. Frank departed from pasta and ordered a plate of freshly grilled sardines, garnished with fresh coriander and lemon juice.

‘Why don’t you all come back to London with me and have a look at Wendy’s gallery’, Frank asked? ‘She is having an exhibition of her own work and there is also an ongoing show on lace’. It was an exchange exhibition from a gallery in Belgium’s Ghent. The gallery in Ghent is highly specialised, world renowned for its hand- made lace. Wendy was lucky to get the lace exhibition in her gallery in London. ‘Not lucky’, Wendy retorted, ‘you knew how to manage and talk to the gallery board, gain their trust and influenced them to try England as a venue for their next exhibition’; she smiled knowingly.

Frank had been to Paris recently to once again see his Euro Disney project which finished a few years before and made a side trip to Ghent to see the lace exhibition. While there he showed them a catalogue of the lace dolls including those he had bought from Rosaria.

The excitement of catching a plane to look at more lace in London was very tempting to Maria. She had no qualms in accepting. Joe, with his easy nature had no trouble; the flounder could wait and swim a little longer, he thought. What about Aunt Maria? ’Don’t worry about me, I can sing anywhere and besides, I’ll visit my brother in Naples’. ‘I haven’t seen him for ages. I might even go to Pompeii, have a look at that famous brothel where a visit to the girls of love used to cost the equivalent of an erect penis’s weight in gold’. ‘Now, there was female liberation, she added’.

Maria had never married but was rumoured to have many lovers. No one was sure, but many young men would visit her cottage on a rocky outcrop in Gozo to take singing lessons. In fact, it became a bit of a standard saying, when, some young person who spontaneously burst out into a song, was asked; was it a good lesson from Maria today?

When the group finally finished lunch, they decided to fly with Frank and Wendy to London the day after. His plane was on stand-by and so were the two pilots who were booked into a local hotel. The convenience of having the means to do all that was none more obvious than to Wendy and Rosaria. Rosaria was still a few weeks away of giving birth and the idea that her dolls with lace had sold filled her with joy. It was not just the sale, but that her work was now so much appreciated. All those hours and days of moving bobbins around with the lace finally getting a motive that was hers alone and totally unique.

Next day Maria was already on her bus to Naples which drove direct onto the ferry at the Messina wharf. At the same time the plane took off with Frank, Wendy, Rosaria and Joe on their way to London.

Maria felt a warm anticipation not just to see her brother in Naples but also the chance to see Pompeii. Her knowledge of Pompeii was mainly through studies and magazines. She was intrigued by the idea that an entire culture ‘in situ’ had been re-discovered and that so much was still being unearthed. Of course she had seen the picture of Priapus’ fresco from the House of the Vettii but felt that to actually see this scene in front of her at the place where it all had happened was something she looked forward to almost more than seeing her brother.

Maria was more than a little interested in men’s sexuality. When the singing lessons sometimes strayed to a more intimate level, she did respond in kind. This was never predetermined or deliberate and always followed a natural flow of events. The singing lessons could end up in the young man bedding her down. She liked men as much as singing and somehow thought that art and sex could well be mutually dependent or symbiotic. Looking at some erotic art from Picasso and others, there seemed to be that sex and art often had a common bond. They certainly were not mutually exclusive.

The trip to Pompeii would involve the tour to the erotic Priapus fresco which, she had been told, could only be shown to males. Why women were excluded wasn’t explained but someone told her, that this little sexist oddity was only reserved for English and American tourists. Apparently, the board of tourism had received complaints from some of those that weren’t quite prepared for the sheer size of the phallus. Some high heeled ladies even fainted and had to be brought back by generous sprinkling of Eau-de Napoli mixed with holy water which was put near the fresco to revive those faint hearted.

All in all, those tales of giant erect phalluses, the Pompeian history and cultural habits of the inhabitants, (irrespective of phallus size) was enough for Maria to keenly look forward to her visit next day. She knew the tale that the giant phallus had outweighed the bag of gold coins but had some lingering doubt how this giant upright member could be weighed. She had a practical side to her! She was at the same time also told not to miss the nearby Herculaneum, an excavated snack bar which has a painting of Priapus behind the bar, apparently as a good-luck symbol for the customers.

Rosaria from Gozo (Entertainment with friends and Ophra)

September 15, 2011


Back in Australia’s Rockdale, Hzanna with husband and friends inside the RSL club made the hazardous trip to their dining table without anyone getting lost in those labyrinthine, twinkling, garish and beckoning gambling caves.

As is normal in many clubs, the menu is perused by the hungry on huge blackboards behind the counter. Only the best of sign writers are employed in using the many colourful arrangements of crayons to write up an ever-changing daily menu. This perusing is done while patrons shuffle patiently ever forward in a queue which can be quite large, especially moments after opening for dinner.

Mr Azzopardi had a penchant for roast pork with apple sauce. The main attraction for him was the salty crackling that accompanied this particular dish. He always, rather good-humouredly, warned at the cash register that the crackling should not be missed. It was just one of those little culinary joys of life that he looked forward to. It was perhaps all a bit askew, seeing he was a purveyor of ‘meat solutions’. Surely this butcher from Malta had all the logistics at his finger-tips to produce all the crackling he could ever eat. There you go though; life still holds mysteries, even in Rockdale. Challenges and solutions are galore for those with enough business acumen.

After everyone had settled at the table waiting for their plates to arrive, they started sipping the chardonnay. Hzanna, after the invigorating hot stone treatment that afternoon felt aglow with life if not hunger as well. She ordered a bottle of bubbly pinot and with a twinkle in her eye to her husband; she quickly gulped down a large mouthful. The evening was young and anything could happen.

While the plates arrived, the pre-food wine sipping started to work wonders, loosening tongues and giving oral bravery to where there were none before. The Azzopardi couple’s friends soon started divulging and exchanging intimate tit bits on their relationships. “We are working on ours, trying new things.” . This sexual little confession worked like grist for the mill. “Yes, we too”, are trying to invigorate with new techniques as well, the other couple responded.

Do you ever watch Ophra? It’s a really good program and very intimate. They are so much more advanced over in America. They all work on relationships, almost non-stop. Of course, Hzanna hadn’t quite got to grips with the somewhat largish black American woman on the TV. She knew that that show was enormously successful. She was also very rich and influential. Indeed, Australia was soon to be graced by her visit, promising to outdo a previous papal visit.

Hzanna was puzzled however that her visit would put Australia back on the map as far as tourism was going. Would tourists flock to Australia because of Ophra? What about tourism based on the wonders of Australia, she thought?

Anyway, the magic of Ophra’s show certainly was the theme at this dinner table. Ophra never held back when it came to couples divulging their relationships on her TV shows. Not an issue was kept away from the cheering audience. Nothing too shameful or too intimate a detail was to be denied to the ever sensation hungry crowd, nor would any reticence by the participants be allowed. Just a grimace or an awry pulling of face behind the backs of the hapless couple and a renewed cheering on by the crowd, would result in more outpouring of more detailed sexual intimacies. All their secrets were thrown for instant consumption by the hysterical crowd. All was clapping and ovations, while Ophra counted her billions.

Hzanna thought it all very silly but nonetheless, the table was all in praise of trying out new things and renew the fervour and excitement with ‘working on’ their relationships. If Ophra gave it the nod of approval, why not do the same for Rockdale couples? “Bert wanted me to do things with vegetables”, the wife blurted out. “Yah, but only if you sliced them up afterwards and put them in the soup”, Bert replied.

Bert was now duly fortified by the Shiraz coyly named the “Promised Land.” The diners, now well over half way through their dishes and three quarters through their wine, hooted in response. “Did you see, Dr Phil and that man who confessed to erectile dysfunction on stage yesterday, Bert’s wife blurted? “No, I didn’t Hzanna replied”, noticing Bert was stooped over the last of his roast lamb wiping his plate clean of the remnants of the mint sauce. She hoped that the wife’s resorting to using vegetarian dildos wasn’t due to Bert’s over indulgence to wine and his ensuing floppiness during trying out ‘new techniques’ and working on a ‘renewal’….of an Ophra induced marital work-out.

Hzanna was getting ill at ease. The evening’s conversation was not focussed on exchange of something new, just seemed to meander on being rather soulless. She often felt an ache when trying so hard to make new friends.

No way was she going to reveal their marital state. What was there to work on? Surely, the ups and downs were all part and parcel of anything, especially relationships? Her husband was still munching on his pork crackling which he had kept till last. He did not want that to be spoilt by the thought of an inappropriate use of vegetables, no matter where they ended up being put.

To him food was sacred and to be respected. He did entertain the idea though, that he might try out selling hot crackling. Hot crackling in a nice container could sell easily for three dollars a pop. His busy brain feverishly and always at work, always improving at things. He was mentally already back at his Meat Solutions shop, honing his filleting knife, getting ready to strip bare the potential fat off whole sides of porkers. It could well be a go-er. Nothing would stop this brave entrepreneur.

He also did not feel too enticed into revealing the ups and downs of their relationship, decided to keep all that firmly tucked between the sheets of their recently acquired King Size bed with built in surround sound, no matter how often Dr Phil or Ophra would make public America’s obsession to use TV as a confessional for trivia.

Still, each to their own, if others felt the need to work on their relationships and use props or other devices, so be it, he thought benevolently. Rosaria had just sent them some music from Malta. He made a mental note of putting the music on when back at home. Hzanna eyes were still twinkling with promise, even though half the pinot remained in the bottle. The evening wasn’t finished yet!

Rosaria from Gozo ( A descendant from Hebron)

September 12, 2011

With the pulling on of clothes and winching up of anchor, the voyage to Messina continued on. The morning was calm and the sun just skimming over the surface. It would be a perfect day. After just a few hours they arrived and were picked up by the gallery owner whom they had phoned just prior to arrival.

Their boat was berthed next to a flotilla of much larger and more luxurious vessels. The power was connected to the boat and fridge and batteries re-charged. Rosaria’s dolls were taken into the boot of the gallery owner’s car which then drove to a cafe for late breakfast and a coffee.
To their surprise they were introduced to Sir Frank Bovims and his wife Wendy at the cafe. Wendy had a strong English accent but Frank had a thick middle European accent which Rosaria recognized from the many tourists from central Europe visiting Malta with many filtering over to her island of Gozo. Some of those from Slovakia, Slovenia and Chechnya had accents very similar to Sir Frank.

Many seemed to have a fondness for nude bathing, which on Gozo was accepted in some hidden coves facing the Mediterranean. The cultural fondness by many Europeans to go naked when swimming or sunbaking wasn’t necessarily based on anything deliberately flaunting a kind of sexual naughtiness, but more based on taking clothes off and then putting them back on afterwards as a more practical solution than putting on swimming gear.

Of course, many from mainland Malta, especially English tourists would be seen motoring past those nudist coves hoping for a glance at a pubic bush of which many amongst the “Mittel Europa Menschen” were well endowed and renowned for. For some reason, the English fondness for perving on huge pubes seemed to go hand in hand with the consumption of vast quantities of beer of which the empty cans floated on-shore. One wondered if those pubic triangles could even be male or female discernable when viewed from some distance away. Perhaps the Brit’s’ lives were so dull, that anything with hair on it would make them break out in riotous behaviour, especially when away from their much loved ‘privacy’ of their homes. Many of the English male tourists had shaven heads, wore nose rings and, according to their blue arm and leg markings, could possibly have spent more time in tattoo dens than at schools.

The nudists would first clear the sandy coves of those beer cans and bottles, a kind of symbiosis in tourism whereby Malta encouraged the tourists to come and spend their money which in turn made other tourists clean their much loved Maltese environment of the detritus caused by that same tourism.

After the introduction at the Sicilian cafe to Sir Frank and Lady Wendy Bovims, it turned out that Wendy had spent many years living in Australia. She knew about Rockdale, in fact she used to go to clubs and play the pokies. This was before she met Frank Bovims. The subject of Australia certainly was an ice-breaker and the little group soon got on very well. It turned out they had flown to Sicily the night before and had chartered their own plane. The Bovims were rumoured to be very well off. He had spent his life building up a world- wide conglomerate of shipping and construction businesses which were floated on the UK stock-market many years ago. Recently there had been a bitter struggle between Sir Frank’s company and a hostile takeover by one of Australia’s largest construction companies. The final offer for the take-over was just too much to resist and Frank could not but recommend the take-over to his loyal shareholders by the Australian company. All this Wendy explained smilingly to Rosaria and Joe.

Rosaria’s English was very good she had gone through high school and had studied art and design at Malta’s university, while Joe’s English was a bit more a result of having taken foreign tourists around on fishing expeditions. Even so, he got most of the gist of the conversation which meandered between Australia, art, and central Europe. Wendy explained that she only recently married Frank. They had been going together for some years. His first wife had recently died. Rosaria was curious about the title ‘Sir and Lady’.

Wendy explained that like so many descendants of Hebron who had the misfortune to live in Europe during Hitler’s time, teen-age Frank and his parents’ family were simply rounded up and after a while told to undress, given a piece of soap and were walked towards the doors of hell. Frank, being a strong teenage boy, was spared, survived and after the war went back to Brno’s university. The communist takeover with the denouncement of anything ‘bourgeois’, Frank was again imprisoned and made to work in uranium mines.

After gaining a pardon on Stalin’s birthday he was given the choice to work in construction or mining. When, for the third time another oppressive regime and the Russian tanks rolled into Prague, Frank and his wife had enough, fled with one suitcase to England to join their son who was studying at Oxford University.

Frank resumed his career in construction and one of his biggest jobs was the construction of The Canary Wharf and many even other large construction jobs in the Middle East, including the PETRONAS Towers in Kuala Lumpur, a huge shopping complex under the Red Square in Moscow. He was duly awarded the Queen’s Award for Exports. He had also joined the Board of a shipping line P&O. Wendy seemed to know so much.

Frank, in the meantime seemed more interested in Joe and his fishing boat, wanted to know how he was going and how he sold the fish. Did the fish get sold through a Co-Op or through private marketing? Joe told him that on a good day he would catch enough to see him out for the rest of the week. He would then take tourists around on fishing expeditions and that’s how he managed to learn his English. Frank seemed genuinely impressed.

Rosaria was agog, nothing whatsoever had prepared her to sit with Wendy and Frank at a cafe in Messina not really knowing much about the couple who might buy her dolls with her lace. What, she wondered, had destined her to meet up with such an extraordinary couple, Sir Frank and Lady Wendy?