Posts Tagged ‘America’

Leave love enough alone.(I wish I could have known.)

January 21, 2019
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https://secondhandsongs.com/work/113101
“The harbour’s misty in the morning love oh how I miss december
The frangipani opens up to kiss the salty air
I know you’re gettin’ ready for the office
I suppose he’s still there, with you
Sharing our morning sun
Winter in America is cold
And I just keep growing older
I wish I could have known
enough of love to have love enough alone
I ‘ve learned something of love
I wish I’d known before you left me
But it’s funny how you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone
And I hope you ‘ re getting all the love you ever wanted
But I wish I was there with you
Sharing our… “
These are the lyrics of a song named “Winter in America is cold.”  Also known as “Leave love enough alone.” The song was written by a man named Jimmy Stewart. We used to know him quite well during the  seventies till the nineties. Our children were young and life was starting to fire up very nicely. The memories of that period are filled with sun, laughter and growing trees. The inner Sydney suburb of Balmain was groovy and Carole King was on the ascent with her song “It’s too late.’
It was also the period of turning green and not waste, a turn against obscene wealth was starting to grow. We spoke of terminal capitalism! A vegie co-op was established and some ten couples would contribute $10 weekly each for which a trip would be made to Sydney’s vegetable markets by alternating couples to buy all the vegetables including fruit. The lot would be shared and put into 10 boxes. One box per couple. Jimmy Stewart and his then partner were one of the ten couples. Jimmy and I would go to this market when it was our turn. Jimmy was a writer of songs and the best known was the “Winter in America.” It was a mild hit in the US but in Netherland became top of the charts for a while. The song was covered by several artists but the Australian Dough Ashdown’s version is by far the best known.
We stayed in contact with Jimmy Stewart for some years. Music was his life and he was uncompromising in this. He had a range of partners and smoked and drank heartily. Last time I heard of him was yet another marriage, and a move to the blue mountains but that is some years ago now.
Here is “Winter in America.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEjZmjYENOk
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How low can we go?

June 22, 2018

In America;

In Australia.
Featured Image -- 8646
In Nazi Germany.
Image result for jews in nazi germany

A solid foundation for bullying.

March 1, 2018

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With a steady stream of  News on TV and newspapers about many forms of bullying inflicted on school students including the latest insights on’hazing parties’at our Sandstone and other prestigious universities one wonders where this stems from? While this might go on in other countries, I am not aware of it, and can only write about what happens here ‘today’ in our own neck of the woods.

http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/labor-tells-residential-colleges-to-clean-up-their-act/9494780

The Australian school systems, especially the more exclusive ‘Private school’s’ have a system whereby the school classes have captains, prefects or duxes appointed by the head master or mistress whose rules and penalties were the standards and to be obeyed without questioning or a recourse to a higher authority. The most likely reason for this is that many established rules of our societal norms have been inherited from the British. (Till this day our head of state is the English Queen). In schools cheating or letting down the other side is still considered more serious than failures of sensitivity. Stealing is still seen as the most serious failure.

In Australian schools, prowess at sport is extremely praiseworthy and excuses many breaches of rules and decorum. Bookishness and dislike for physical activities is disliked and even arouse suspicions of a certain moral darkness and even invites punishment or some form of disciplinary action for the slightest breach of the rules set by the school captains or prefects. A good rapping over the knuckles with a bamboo stick was the answer.

Hardiness is considered more important than sensitivity, let alone imagination. In boarding schools you get up at six, take a cold shower and run a mile before the classes assembled in uniformed solidarity. Woe those that had hidden a book under their pillow.

It isn’t’ just at schools that initiated the now well established nation-wide art of bullying. This was also the norm at many work places. After arrival in Australia I was amazed at the initiation practices imposed on young apprentices including myself, a cruel process of degrading the hapless victim, most times of a sexual nature, often overseen by the chortling foreman or factory manager. It was ‘the norm.’ A psychologist would rationalise and explain it by saying; ‘you give back what was given to you.’ This is at the very centre of what is now still so rampant in Australia. ‘We bully you to give back what we were given.’

It just doesn’t apply to schools or universities. Just look how our politicians behave, almost on a daily basis. And how does one explain the fact that refugees are now in their fifth year of deliberate and intentional detention on Nauru an Manus. While a small dribble of people have finally been allowed to settle in America, the majority are still stuck in endless limbo. A purer form of punishment and bullying would be hard to imagine.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-01/bullying-must-stop-pm-writes-to-schools-amid-university-hazing/9496150

Yet, our PM has now instructed his department to write to every headmaster to install programmes to alleviate bullying. But this is a hollow act, perhaps to make him look good and enhance his future election as a PM.  A better example would be to show kindness to the refugees still in detention. Admit that coming by boat to Australia escaping the mayhem of bombings in own countries is no crime.

Our PM would do better and do away with the overt British system of discipline and punishment above all else.

Show some kindness instead.

 

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.

The artist as employee in making new antique clocks. ( auto-biography)

August 5, 2015
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The VW Kombi

The first weeks were spent getting good bedding and turning the heating on. It was early May and still surprisingly cold.  We enrolled both our daughters in the local kindergarten school.  Our son  stayed home as he was still a baby.  Soon after we bought a VW Kombi bus. The VW bus  popularity was a world-wide phenomenon. There was an unwritten law that drivers of those VW buses would dip their headlights while passing each other on the road. Most often those drivers were anti-war. Both sexes grew long hair, smoked bongs, drank cheap red wine and listened to Bridge over troubled Waters.

We also had to establish our citizenship and get enrolled into all the different levels of the Dutch bureaucracy which is fairly complicated but generous. Child endowment, unemployment relief, all sorts of taxation requirements, getting banking accounts fixed. All went reasonably smooth and when things had settled I enrolled myself at an employment office seeking work as an ‘artist’. Much to my surprise and within a few days I was notified about a vacancy for an artist. An artist skilled in landscape techniques. It was about a twenty minute drive from where we were living. I was so intrigued. Can you believe this?

I turned up for the interview which was at a factory that made imitation grandfather clocks. Those clocks were apparently selling like hot cakes, exported world wide, especially the ‘Friesian stand-up clock’ with a swinging pendulum and hand painted clock dial. All had to be genuinely ‘hand painted’. This is where the job of the artist came in, specifically my skill as the artist landscape or sky/sea scape specialist. If possible it would be best if the clock dials were painted in a genuine ‘style’. A kind of mixture between a Hobbema or Vermeer would do.

I felt that it might be well worth the experience and after whipping out a quick little sample of a wind-mill and some sea-gulls was given the job. From what I could see on some of the clocks with hand-painted dials the previous painter wasn’t really skilled in faking an old master in any genre. The factory making the clocks was actually part of a much larger consortium doing all sorts of things including exporting tulips to America. I was in good hands. The salary was not bad either. Remember how I had taken lessons from Ronald Peters at the Parramatta ambulance hall in the late fifties early sixties in painting landscapes with a receding sky and dappled effects on gum tree trunks? Well, all this was now coming to fruition at the clock factory.

Those clocks were really amazing. The actual body of the grandfather clock was made from something that was poured in a mould. When taken out of the mould a brown stain was sprayed over it and, lo and behold, it looked like ‘genuine’ oak’. The actual grain of the oak was part of the mould. Amazing fake that could not be improved upon. Of course, today everything is fake. Reading only yesterday on a bottle of maple syrup at Aldi in small lettering  ‘flavoured’.

At the same time as my clock dial painting career took off, we also bought an original Dutch farm house with a soaring upwards part tiled and part thatched roof typical of that Northern area. Many traditional old Dutch farms had both people and cows inside during winter under the same roof. Hay that was cut during summer was stored inside together with cows and people. One reason for those high roofs was to stack the hay. It was all very cosy, intimate and above all in winter nice and warm. The cows heated the place up better than central heating ever could. Of course we did not keep cows and did have central heating installed.

The clock dial painting went very well. The management was very happy. A lot depended on the attractiveness of the clock face. They were bought solely on their looks.  The seagulls especially were very real. The manager said ‘they seem to follow me around the room’. I was emboldened to such a degree I managed to do the production of clock dial painting at home on the farm. Once a week I would drive over and hand the works of art in and pick up a box of blank  clock faces in return. As long as I did about fifty dials a week, all would be happy. I had achieved a fairly relaxed way of earning a salary and as yet had no need to apply for the Government artist salary. That was yet to come!

Of course, the clocks were super kitsch and some might query the moral fibre of someone happily doing that, but…who was I to not experience the life of a paid artist. Did not Jan Steen (1626-1679) run a tavern, had nine children and two wives.? What about Pieter Brueghel before (1525-1569), with his rejected ‘The Blind leading the Blind?’ There is hope for all Dutchmen!

We all make the best of circumstance.

 

‘Winter in America,’ Children’s Library and Vegie co-op (Auto-biography)

July 26, 2015
Balmain Watch-house.

Balmain Watch-house.

The way things are going in this auto- biography it will run into a literary cinemascope  version of  Days of our Lives with the Hammond organ belting out a circular and never ending tune.  The cheek of thinking that my life is any better or more important or interesting than that of any living being or Jo Blow!  I shall just continue because I enjoy this very much.  And if there is a blow out of too many words, well…just skip a few pages… or start at the end and work towards the middle. Even if it relieves insomnia for just a single night for just a single person, I’ll be a happy man.

Apart from the baby-sitting club, another community enterprise was the vegie co-op which also started to sprout up in the various communities of inner Sydney suburbs. I am not sure anymore if this came about during our stay at Gertrude’s cottage between 1969-1973 or after our stay in Holland and subsequent return in 1976. In any case a group of people decided to fork out $10.- each week towards a kitty to buy fruit and vegetables at the Flemington wholesale fruit and vegie markets at Homebush.  It was a huge market covering a very large area where all the fruit and vegie shops would get their produce at wholesale prices. It also had several cafeteria where the buyers could get sustenance and a coffee. Many fruit and vegie shops were run by Italians and Greeks, so food and coffees were as necessary as the apples, kale and celery which they filled their trucks up with, especially when the buying started at 5am.  You can imagine how early the growers had to get up and prepare their stalls? Farming is tough! It was a hectic few hours and the men, and many women too, would be ravenous by seven am. The market as all markets do, also had great atmosphere and laughter was everywhere.

Of some interest was my market shopping partner Jimmy Stewart. He was  Irish. He loved a good yarn and food. He looked somewhat like a juvenile Oscar Wilde. He had dark hair hanging over his face and a large stomach. After our shopping of many boxes of fruit and vegies, we would visit the cafeteria, enjoy bacon and eggs, coffee and a cigarette. He loved women and they generously reciprocated, yet he was never good marriage material. His income sporadic and swallowed up by international phone calls to entrepreneurial music and record companies. He generally managed to get me to buy cigarettes and pay for the bacon and eggs. But, he was terrific company, always whistling and singing. A cheerful soul. A great friend.

He was a writer of music, popular music and would let nothing stand in the way of doing that. Sadly, it did not bring in a regular income, yet women were attracted to him often in order to find out that a future including a cosy and secure family-life would be hazardous at best and reckless at worst.  That’s how so often and so sadly, love gets lost. The combination of income with a mutual everlasting and reasonable attraction is so desired and yet so rarely achieved. Money so often the banana skin on the doorstep of many relationships. Indeed, even with plenty of money things can get perilous.

While we drove to the markets and back he used to hum a song that really hit the world at that time. It was ‘Winter in America’.  It had a line that included the ‘Frangipani’. “The harbour’s misty in the morning, love, oh how I miss December / The frangipani opens up to kiss the salty air” – Ashdown’s lament to “leave love enough alone” has become one of the great Australian standards.

It was Jimmy Stewart’s creation and he would often sing it while driving to Flemington markets..

Here it is;

At the same time of the weekly boxes of fruit and vegies, another group also brought to fruition a Children’s library. Another community effort. The retired chief Commonwealth librarian named Larry Lake was the main person behind this idea. The National Trust had given the use of the Balmain Lock-up to a group that called themselves “The Balmain Association’. The ‘Lock-up’ or Watch house’ was busy during the heydays of Balmain still working as a Stevedoring and Waterfront suburb. There were lots of maritime associated industries and that is what attracted many to the area when that ceded to exist. During earlier times and at night the local constable would have been busy locking up inebriated sailors or others that liked to frequent so many pubs it was difficult to find normal houses in between. I believe Balmain had over 60 pubs at one stage. The air used to be thick with coarse oaths and rank vomit renting along the blue-stone cobbled noisy streets. It frightened the horses at times.

A group including myself spent many evenings getting this library working. There were fundraisings and book covering, cataloguing and getting shelving to fit into one of the Lock-up cells. It had a heavy steel door and sliding locking mechanism. Those poor drunks! The children that used to visit the cell library afterwards, just loved it.

Those were the days. It did include occasional bra removals, but also baby-sitting, vegie co-ops, music and books for children.

Bees and other revelations.

March 16, 2015
Salvia

Salvia

  With the Salvia now having taken over most of the garden, bees have descended upon those nodding flowers by the hundreds if not thousands. After a few days under this wonderful siege, we left them alone. The buzzing noise and hyper activity made Milo the Jack Russell nervous. Hanging the washing outside carried an increased risk of getting stung by an over- excited bee if not covered in salvia pollen as well…Some of the Salvia beads of flowers had multiple numbers of bees scrambling for a place inside the flowers. There were disagreements between them, and despite some of the older more wiser bees trying to mediate, try and keep peace, there was nothing much we as mere humans could do except pack a couple of bags, some wooden sandals with water, also bread and some mild salami to seek temporary salvation ourselves. It could well be that salvia’s potent hallucinatory substance affects bees in a hostile way. The science is still out on that one. In America there are a few states that have put Salvia on the list of forbidden plants and anyone caught with it could be charged with drug offence. Beware when travelling in the US of using mint in your soup! In any case, we could not pontificate forever about what bees might or might not be capable off. We drove somewhat in an uncertain fashion but generally following the orange sun in a east-south-westerly direction and just before dusk managed to get into a place that had a bed with soft pillows but a firm mattress. The building had seen better more jovial times but the host was buxom and justifiably friendly as is often the case with soft fronted women, especially if they have names such as Maria, Barbara, Josephine and Virginia, (but not so much if Gertrude, Kate or a Mavis). We asked for a later than usual breakfast and explained about our reason for departure from our home due to bees being temporarily frenzied by sweet Salvia and pollen. She understood and told us the story how her parents had to sell their grand mansion in Chili’s Valparaiso  and move when their garden became a rehabilitation unit not only for the politically driven mad, infirm and the marital unstable but also for Salvia addicted bees. Her mother found it easier to counsel the infirm and mad than a frenzied bee. They left for shores named Australia. photoSalvia Nr2 We were lucky to have found this place as week-ends are usually booked out in advance. They had a cancellation from a couple who were needed for a fund raising to buy a property taken over by bees as well. We were somewhat alarmed and uneasy by this notion. Our next door room was taken by a rather corpulant couple. They seemed to be in a cheerful mood and each time we met in the corridoor they laughed heartily at almost everything we spoke to them.  It was infectious and I found myself soon laughing spontaneously as well. The bed and breakfast was guarded by a couple of mastiffs who just gave us a somewhat desultory sniff between our feet to let us pass each time we came home from our walks in a nearby dense forest of tall eucalypts and she oaks.  The bees were in profusion here as well but on the whole friendly and non-intrusive. Of course we stayed away from the hives that some of the town’s folk had put there to possibly supplement meagre incomes and keep some errant male retirees busy and off the streets.  We noticed an elderly deeply wrinkled man without any protective gear shaking the honey  from the combs  in a hand driven centrifuge. All he did to calm the bees was smoke a pipe and with gentle breaths pacified the busy bees. They obviously knew him and his particular brand of pipe tobacco. We stayed for three nights and with some sadness said goodbye to our kind host and drove back home. We were pleased to be back, rejuvenated and with some jars of honey as well. The Salvia bees had gone and all was as before, peaceful and sweet.

The possibilty of ‘fracking’ Governments.

October 4, 2014

etching 'couple'

etching ‘couple’

They, many eminent scientists say that when you put pressure on something the results is often a release of pent-up energy. It is now used to release gas locked up in rock formations. It is called fracking. Geologists come home tired and their wives now ask; Did you do some good fracking today dear?

Go and ‘frack’ yourself is an expression waiting to raise its head in parlance of the progressive world of slinky board riders and depressed gloomy hoodie wearers. I bet you it will take over from the ‘awesome’ and ‘oh, my god’. I think ‘stuff like that’ has now sunk into the furnace of lost expressions, the same as ‘bodgie and widgie’ did some many decades ago. It was used during the period when as a teenager I used to linger around Parramatta Delinquent Girls home. Friday night was ‘curler-night’. I remember seeing girls in trains wearing curlers! Men used to perve on Pix magazine girly photos showing knees and total naked feet.

I have just brushed up my very limited knowledge on Islam and ISis with all that goes with it; I can’t say I am much wiser. Previous knowledge did not go much further than Ali Baba and forty thieves. On the way over from Holland our boat stopped at Port Said where we all went off the ship. I was fifteen then and bought a fez and a small whip used for camel driving. I kept those mementoes for years. Now they are lost the same as those past popular expressions. Forever gone!

I do know that bombing always ends up killing. With the latest be-heading no doubt the reaction will be more bombing more killing and more incomprehension by many, not least myself. Isis seems to have unlimited funding and an expert PR machinery going for it. Perfectly English translations of their web-sites and IT magazines beamed and downloaded all-over. It is there within seconds as did the latest beheading video, done by the same man speaking in a thick London accent.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-24/analysis-campaign-against-is-could-take-years-or-decades/5764828
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-16/what-is-islamic-state/5748646

I don’t know what goes on. The last major conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were all undertaken at the behest of the US. All three conflicts seemed to have achieved nothing but hordes of refugees and endlessly ongoing murderous campaigns. We were lied to by our governments as never before. Vietnam did not result in hordes of yellow peril. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. Afghanistan with the Taliban were Americas friends during that period they were fighting the Russians.

And now…again, Australia goes to another war. And talking about expressions, our Government calls this…not going to a war but… ‘a humanitarian MISSION’! Can you believe it?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-03/war-not-a-mission-abbott-incorrect-on-iraq-action-fact-check/5772316

Governments need fracking I reckon. Get fracked Mr Abbott.

Western Polo-necked Youth drawn (radicalised) to Isis.

October 1, 2014

untitledvoodoo

The local youth don’t know what they are missing out on. What’s the golden syrup that draws the future jihadists away from our lovely, caring and all inclusive culture? Of the estimated 30000 Isis army about a thousand or more are alleged to have come from Western countries. The videos and the beheadings in Syria are supposed to have been done by someone with an English accent. Perhaps even an English national. Claims were made that the identity of him is known. Many countries are scrambling their fighter jets. We are daily shown TV images of pin point accurate bombs honing in on enemy targets with plumes of black smoke radiating dangerously close towards us on the comfy couch, accompanied by a shot of a pulverised, disintegrating enemy(real people).We almost end up clapping or at least hope for an encore.

If those figures are correct, it means about 10% of all the Isis forces are from Europe, America and Australia. That sad video made by a woman undercover in Syria, of a French youth on the phone to his crying mum back home in France, telling her that he wants to stay in Syria and fight. “I am not coming home”, he said

The reason given is that of being ‘radicalised’. The young people are being radicalised! It almost sounds as if there is some Voodoo going on. You know, feathers and chicken heads besmirched with demonic dancing around funereal fires. There must be hypnotic Isis practitioners out in the suburbs casting strange spells on our youth. Oh, that’s the explanation! Yes, we see now. Yes, that’s why! Nothing more? Is that all there is to it? The magic of radicalisation? How simplistic, but that word is being used to explain the hard to swallow fact that many of our young feel attracted away from our much revered system of consumerism and capitalism. How can that be?. Let’s cancel their passports; teach them a lesson.

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/09/dutch_cancel_49_jihadist_passp.php

Isn’t that a bit easy? Surely there must be better explanations offering more thought out and credible reasons why so many are drawn to fight in far away sandy and risky countries. I don’t know either but I am now old and often in repose mood, not yet listless. I well remember, as if yesterday, not being like that. My main aim in life was always to savour the new and skirt and flirt the adventurous, avoid the staid cemented-in, like the plague. I have been reasonably successful in that and wasn’t ever tempted to become a lawyer, a quantity surveyor or actuarial expert with a sound grounding in so much nothingness. Not the stooped-over office chair for me. I too might have been tempted to join an Isis!

I do remember the opposition to the Vietnam war. Young boy-like soldiers laughingly saying goodbye to wives, mothers, girlfriends. Many never to return but in bitter graves under moonless skies. There were escapes for youth then, with protests by students, energetic rock throwing by their professors. America and its allies capitulated. The war lost.

But now, nothing but a numb acceptance of everything that is imposed, unquestioningly and obediently. Dreadful things happening under the guise of ‘humanitarian concerns.’ The killing fields of our detention camps. The 15% unemployment rates of the young. It must be having an effect on our youths. Is despair rampant?

Perhaps this disillusion felt by youth has spread to the Western world as a whole. Has capitalism and consumerism run its course?

Don’t we give back what is given to us?

Is that perhaps one reason for some of the youth to be attracted to Isis.

Is that the radicalisation? I don’t know.

What do you think?

The running of the XMas Shoppers.

December 6, 2013

imagesJ04SPV7C
There really needs to be an historical investigation on so many different varieties on the theme of Santa. How come there are a dizzying number of personages claiming to be the original Santa. There is the Bishop from Spain with a servant called black Pieter or Pete by its more colloquial name. He travels to Holland on a White Horse. This Bishop wears a mitre with a white beard and despite this neat attire he climbs down sooty chimneys to either bring gifts to good children or a good thrashing to naughty ones.

Today, the 5th of Dec. Saint Nicholas is being celebrated in Holland. There is wild uninhibited dancing on the streets and herrings are being freely traded on the Amsterdam Bourse and Dam Square.

He, the Bishop of Spain as mentioned before, hails (logically) from Spain and he mucks around in Holland on the 5th of December when the good children are scared witless by black Pieter (Pete). However, the presents make up for the scary bits and the Dutch children’s tears soon dry up. In Spain no one has heard about him. A bit like that Dutch fable of someone holding a finger in the dyke; world famous legend except totally unknown in The Netherlands.

Of course in winter the Dutch during Santa’s ride over roofs don’t have fires going. Just imagine the ire from the Bishop singeing his mitre or blackening his beard while clambering down a red-hot chimney? Most Dutch families therefore sit in the dark corner of the room, shivering, while staring at the chimney. His future is in doubt while many are now claiming poor old black Pete to be a product of racism. There is no peace or understanding in traditions anymore. All is tinged with pc. When will it stop?

Then there is an Anglo/American Santa. He rides in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and is hailed from Finland or Disney Land. He humms and does ho, ho, ho. In Finland there are bits of Sibelius’ ‘Finlandia’ thrown in for good measure. In Finland he is also known as Father Christmas not so much as Santa. He brings presents on Christmas Eve. He is a more generous version than the pure Anglo Santa by giving presents to both good and naughty children. The only thrashing in Finland is of the stubborn reindeers. In England of course, especially during Charles Dickens days both children and reindeer got daily beatings, keeping it all in the hallowed tradition of ‘teach the bastards a good lesson’. 😉 It is all so complicated.

They escape blame now by pointing out that the nasty Santa comes from Finland. It is confusing especially when over the last few years children are put on soft bosomed female Santa’s knees. So many bishops have done bad things no one trusts the male clergy of any domination in England. In Australia too, male Santa has been put on the backburner. He is skulking at home and suffers from deep depression. The male Santas now seek counselling but end up kicking the cat and are nasty to bank tellers.

The female Santas in the meantime do a roaring trade with the mums and no doubt get a sling back from the photographer immortalizing the littlies in black and white.

I don’t know the cultural intricacies of Santa/and or Bishops in America. They have a mixture of both and I have heard that turkeys are involved. They traditionally eat turkeys at Thanksgiving but also eat them a few weeks later again, with relish (or without relish) at Christmas. They, the turkeys must be terribly nervous there.

Thanksgiving is when many Americans dance around haystacks and hand bound sheafs of wheat, all spread in neat rows on the stubbled yellow land, not unlike a Vincent’s painting. In the evening they partake of a large oven roasted turkey with a dessert of pairs of pared pears and fresh cream.

Lately, the turkeys have been given presidential pardons so, they go gobble, gobble even lustier, till…come Christmas and Santa holding a sharp cleaver hidden up his sleeve, creeps behind many a hapless (and soon headless) turkey. Turkeys then prefer to lay low hidden in the crofts of old leaning sheds and at the back of very rusty Ford utilities resting underneath old willow trees.

You can tell Santa is getting close when “the running of the shoppers” start. The atmosphere within giant shopping Malls, the holy Mecca for shoppers, crackles with static combustion caused by the frantic fanatical movements of shoppers running manically en masse through shopping aisles. Huge hams are being fought over. Children get smacked ripping into overblown sized bags of Violet Crumble bars while sitting in the trolley on top of mum’s bacon rashes. Husbands look pale, frightened and wait in Japanese cars below in grim concrete parking bunkers. From Germany a report is coming in from someone being beaten senseless by a frozen turkey that was being swung around by an elderly gent, overcome by the relentless jingle bell, jingle bell chiming.

Garlic bread is suffering a late run and so are crumbed calamari, stuffed olives and jars of maple “flavoured’ syrup.
One young lady wearing a T-shirt which had ‘fu*k U’ written on it, went for some early snifters of Christmas spirit. She was found spreadeagled over at ‘smallgoods’ on top of a raw Kiev chicken that had been pre-marinated in Finland Vodka.

Many Santas now do courses in self esteem with the help of white boards and large textures while also throwing pillows at each other. Is it any wonder? Who can blame them/

Dear Santa, give us our daily rye bread with just a slice of smoked salmon. (A Dutch croquette would be nice too.)It all taste so good and nice.