Posts Tagged ‘Balmain’

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

January 21, 2019
IMG_20150708_0002
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
Advertisements

The dying swan!

December 26, 2018

With Christmas Day over and unruly hordes invading the shopping malls looking for specials I thought I would remain with the Pavlova for a-while. ‘How was your Christmas day and how was the pavlova?’  This would have been a question thousands of times repeated around the suburban landscapes of Australia. I thought of giving you a photo of our pavlova. As written before, the pavlova base was a commercial one from Aldi. I found two trolleys with their two dollars still in its little pockets. It was a good omen. People’s need for frugal shopping seems to go overboard at Christmas time when the deposited coins on the trolleys are so recklessly abandoned.

Here the Oosterman pavlova.

IMG_0228 the Pavlova 2018

As I wrote before, our daughter thought the cream should have been a but more fluffy. It did not matter because the cream got covered up. One less sin to worry about. I like cooking rather roughly and am the last one to follow a recipe to the last letter or exact gram. Not that whipping cream involves much cooking.

The prawns have been eaten but Helvi was most annoyed with my suggestion of leaving the shells in the letter box of the cyclamen thief. She said; “you are just as bad as the woman cyclamen thief, and… worse, to contemplate such an evil act on the day of Christmas when the new borne Jesus was in its little crib being warmed by Mary and a kind ox’s steamy breath.” This, she followed up by; “And you are a Catholic as well!”  Helvi stated,”We  Lutherans live by our main credo and that is to be good, and not just PRETEND.”  That hurt!

I answered, “if I put the redolent prawn shells in the letter box and then ask for forgiveness afterwards, would that be OK?  I was always forgiven before, especially if I did a good repenting and a couple of Holy Marys.” Helvi just ignored this. My guilt went into automatic. I am not going to do anything with the prawn shells now. Mind you, the cyclamen thief gave us  really hell apart from stealing cyclamen. Not all old ladies are benign and kind.

The platter the pavlova is resting on is part of a ceramic colection given to us by a very good friend dating back when our children were small, and together with other couples  used to babysit each other.  It was known as the Balmain Babysitting club. It had some kind of point system to keep balance on the hours we sat in each others houses. They were great times.

But now for the real Pavlova. It brought tear to my eyes, the beauty of this dance.

 

Shopping at Costco.

November 28, 2018

Some time ago I heard of a new shopping phenomenon. It is called ‘Costco shopping’. A bowling friend spoke how he went there and bought new hearing aids. Costco, he explained, is a huge shopping experience and one can buy everything from toilet paper to TVs, nicely crafted funeral caskets to embellished urns, everything for those alive and the dearly departed. The dead are as welcome as the living. This is apart from food, groceries, tyres and petrol. All direct from the pallets or bowsers at vastly reduced prices.

We have an American friend who already some time ago promised us the ‘the full Costco experience’. Last Sunday we arranged to meet up in Sydney’s Balmain where he would then take and drive us to the nearest Costco Emporium for a guided tour.  We are not really in for new shopping experiences but were curious enough to at least go and see it. Getting old doesn’t mean avoiding new experiences. I often regale our expeditions to Aldi. Why stop there? In any case, our friend had promised us to drive; so what the heck?

After arrival we noticed people walking with giant shopping trolleys. The trolleys were huge which, even though most shoppers looked normal sized, made people look smaller in what they actually were. A clever architect could conceivably convert those trolleys in mini-houses. The parking station alone was so large one expected traffic lights,  landings of light aeroplanes, border guards.  And everywhere those giant trolleys with small people pulling them along, all glazed eyed, and hyperventilating with over- excitement.

One needs to be a member for the privilege of shopping at Costco. It costs $50.-. Our friend had a membership card on which we could enter as well. After retrieving a large trolley we walked up several levels to get to the entrance. There were queues entering as well as at the exits. An infectious hurry is what seemed to drive most shoppers. In fact, the whole Costco event is finely tuned to spending and impulse buying . Impulse buying is what it seems to be about. The goods are portrayed at eye level and a kind of mass hysteria is honed to perfection. I would say that it is unhappiness and anxiety in most Costco shoppers which is cleverly taken advantage of and exploited by expert psychologists that try and maximise that manner of shopping. Shopping might well fill an otherwise empty life.

Cooked hot chickens were for sale at $3.90. I watched people putting 10 to 20 hot chickens in their trolleys together with towering packs of croissants. What does one do with all those hot chickens and dozens of croissants? Can you imagine going home with complete sides of sheep or pork? I watched someone taking a large pack of chicken breasts out of their trolley and exchanging it for a battery driven drone. What feverish thinking is going on with the shopper during those instant changes of choices?

The coffins looked nice and were temptingly displayed with white sheets tucked around the chrome handles with white plastic lilies poked in for good measure. I saw an elderly man fondling an upmarket nicely embellished urn ready for an impromptu ashes to ashes event. It was right next to a display of car tyres.

Helvi and I ended up buying some baby beetroots, a box of nectarines. Also a box of smoked German sausages and a kilo of sliced Swiss Cheese. (manufactured in Holland.) Our friend drove us to Bar Italia in Norton Str, Leichhardt. It was heaven and the Spaghetti Bolognaise was superb…as always.

All I all, an interesting day.

 

A vase

April 12, 2018

IMG_0027vase

Is this a vase or a work of ceramic art? Perhaps both. Please note that this old table has a white painted top as well. A pity our telephone book wasn’t taken away. It seems to spoil the photo by hiding the rest of this lovely woman’s top part of her body. I do like the composition of the photo though, but don’t ask me why. It’s rather unique.  I doubt there is a similar vase anywhere in the world. We bought it some decades ago while still living in the inner Sydney suburb of Balmain. All I remember is going to a ceramic art exhibition in North Sydney and really like this work. It reminded us of the Italian master Modigliani with its elongated neck and general posture. Look at the Modigliani painting below.

Image result for modigliani portraits

Amedeo Modigliani found little success during his short life but he would be happy to know he now is famous with his paintings and sculptures selling for millions. We went to an exhibition of some of his work many years ago when we were in Paris.

I am sure that the ceramic artist who made this vase could not but be an ardent admirer of Modigliani. It’s funny how we are all influenced by what our eyes take in. Or, would it be better put, we SHOULD be impressed by the visual world and what a blessing eyesight gives us? It begs the question though; if we are so influenced by what our eyes take in, why allow so much visual ugliness to surround us? The madness of materialism now evident everywhere. Those advertising hoarding first invented in the US and almost immediately and eagerly copied and accepted in Australia. Those endless car sales yards with yawning bonnets and happy happy balloons tied to the rear vision mirrors. Is the making of money so important allowing it to override everything?

It’s not everywhere like that though. There are havens of quiet and solitude if one looks carefully. We have a stretch of pure beauty near our house which we walk almost each day and never tire of it. A lovely walk along a small bubbling creek. There are ducks and old men who talk to each other in hushed calm voices. A parrot might fly overhead or we can find a dog scanning the reeds for hidden water fowl. We don’t have to go far to see beauty and that’s a blessing we should not take for granted.

It is lovely and makes it all worthwhile.

A normal nice day at Spice Alley.

March 8, 2018
Image result for spice alley sydney

With all that’s been going on we thought we would have a day in Sydney.  It came as if seeing doctors, visiting hospitals and getting referrals was becoming a routine. I would wake up, bleary eyed, and ask Helvi; ‘any appointments or doctor visits today?’ ‘ Do we need to get a referral?’ We had invested some money in fridge magnets, and as a result of possible memory lapses now pin appointments behind those magnets on the fridge. Of course, the canny quacks now get their secretaries to phone the day before to confirm appointments. It all adds up to the bottom line, you know.

Yesterday we drove to Sydney and parked our car near a friend who has lived in Balmain for many years. We never lost our love for this inner-city suburb which has now grown into a millionaire’s paradise. Our friend suggested we visit Broadway. In particular a site which used to have a large brewery now converted in smart shops and restaurants.

‘I’ll call an ‘uber’ and we will be there in twenty minutes,’ he said while pulling out revolver-like, his cell-phone. ‘I’ll show you,’ ‘I have special uber app.’  He is American and has always held a love for internet and computing. I have to admit also becoming handcuffed to cell-phones and the day is not far off I too will be applying for apps.

He tapped in his cell-phone the address in his uber app he wanted us to go to and within seconds he showed me a GPS map on his phone with  a spot resembling a car crawling towards our address of departure. It also let us know in minutes how long we might have to wait. It was three minutes. The uber car pulled up. Absolutely amazing. I like uber and so does Helvi.

Our friend in particular wanted to show us a part of Broadway/Chippendale that has an area of converted Victorian terrace house that now house a number of Asian eateries named ‘Spice Alley.’

https://spice-alley.com.au/

It is really an area now buzzing with life. The very essence of a city on the move. Of course, we were elderly just short of walking stick aids (it won’t be long now) and could not be more in contrast with all the hip-student mainly Asian hurriedly looking for a spicy lunch, pedestrians. No one shuffles or are hesitant. The young on the move, ambitious, furiously fast and still clear-sighted.

We also wanted to look at a building designed by a well known American architect Frank Gehry. His architecture is known for difficult execution, a nightmare for builders but brilliant in form and pure art.  Almost organic looking, sprouting from the ground up like a mushroom.

Here it is.

Image result for uts frank gehry

We had a beef Rendang. A lovely spicy well cooked Indonesian dish with rice and vegetables. We shall make visiting Sydney again ‘a must’.

Should ‘Milo’s droppings be picked up?

November 28, 2017
IMG_0688

Milo at peace with the world

Many no doubt remember the days when dogs roamed free around suburban circuits and their shopping strips. In our own suburb of Balmain it became very fashionable to have dogs as pets, and there even seemed to be a correlation between the size of the house and the size of the dog. Generally, the smaller the house, the bigger the dog.

There was no law on dog dropping and I remember hopping and skipping trying to avoid huge piles of dog shit on the footpath. People used to scrape their shoes on the concrete kerbs with the more fastidious and gymnastic pedestrians carefully picking the  groves in their shoes with a piece of stick specially taken for just such an occasion.

For a short while, councils introduced painted signs asking dogs to be kerbed. It showed a dog squatting with a nicely formed dropping suspended in mid-air between the dog’s arse and the kerb. Quite a creative bit of a sign really. After a few years a law was passed that all dogs had to be walked on a lead and the days of dogs shitting hither and dither with the resulting littering of footpaths disappeared. Most dog walkers take a plastic bag to take care of any impromptu dog defecating events. You sometimes see  a little plastic bag suspended from the dog’s lead proving the diligence of the dog walker in doing their civic duty and follow the law on dog droppings by picking it up. Some people even bought a special scoop to pick up dropping. It seemed too complicated and I think they have now disappeared. They turn the plastic bag inside out, pick the still warm dropping up  by hand, and turn the bag around to its original form, but now containing the dog’s product.

All this because a few days ago a man ambushed me from behind his garden fence to tell me to pick up Milo’s little turd. “You are not leaving your dog’s shit on the grass verge,” are you, he said? I immediately crouched down and picked up a small brown branch of a wild cherry tree. I answered and said, “I was only too happy to pick Milo’s little shit up but could not find it.” I showed him the little branch and took out my handkerchief. “If I can find it, I will put it in my hanky and in my pocked,” I said.

The man calmed by now. I showed him the branch and still on my knees poked around the grass trying to find Milo’s small and dry little turd. Apparently it was so small it just did not show up.  My eyesight is not he best. The man then relented and said; “no need to put it in your hanky and in your pocket.” “And what is in your hand is just a little cherry branch”. “I am sorry, he apologized.”

Perhaps he felt being a little too severe.

Milo looked up. He did sneak one in somewhere. Should I have looked better and more thoroughly?

What do the readers think of this etiquette of picking up dog shit? Milo’s toilet habits are perfect. He usually goes right underneath some bushes and never on the foot path. Never.

The Auction

March 26, 2017

 

IMG_0767Christmas Dec 2015

Daughter with our grandsons

Well bid, Sir.

And with that a small 2bedroom home-unit changed hands to a lucky new owner. Last week has been hectic, too hectic for some seniors. Readers might remember that after that last heat-wave we decided to get air-conditioning installed. This all happened last Thursday.  Three trucks arrived at 7am. The evening before we were warned not to be in our pyjamas. This referred to when we asked for a quote and we were still night-clad at 11am a few weeks ago, when the man arrived to measure and quote for the air-con. We got sprung. It is rare for us to be out of night-gear before mid-day. It is a nice luxury and it is not as if we  have to catch the 6.30am bus (401 Balmain-Sydney)) to get to the train and then to work.

We had also made a move to go to a real estate Auction this last Saturday. Our daughter has for some time now been mulling over moving. It is funny, Sydney is not as homogenous in its people as one thinks. Perhaps with all the influx of migrants many areas have grown starkly different. Our daughter decided to move away from her area that seems to be mainly peopled by working couples. Dual income no kids or  known as DINK couples. The Dinks want to move upwards and want the mystery of ‘life-style’. And they want it now! That’s why they scurry out of the door to work, and in again after work. They are the 6.30 am bus catchers. Sydney  house prices though might mean they will have to catch the bus for many years yet!

‘Not many children or teenagers, not enough coffee lounges and bookshops,’ our daughter said. She also added. ‘There is just not enough loitering of people walking the streets,’ it is just not cosy.’  It is a boring suburb. She is referring to where she has lived for the last few years. I am familiar with the boring. Could she be a chip of the old block?  She likes the areas where the diversity is somewhat greater. I suppose she might also remember the halcyon years, when growing up in the inner city suburb of Balmain.

So, off we went and scoured the real estate pages, including http://www.domain.dot.com and all those sites that at the flick of a button opens up the world of apartments for sale nation-wide. The advertisements are all false. ‘They are false estates,’ Trump would say. Photos are taken with wide angle lenses that make a mere toilet look so big one would think buying an airport lounge. The interior measurements are juggled with but that’s alright and dealt with by the small lettering down the bottom warning buyers to not rely on anything the brochures and advertisement might be stating. Fake brochures. Fake figures.

Her choice finally singled out on a 2bedr, town-house at Dulwich-Hill. After  pre-contract perusing by solicitor and financial  acrobatics and skirmishes between daughter and us, we worked out some details. The value of her present property, a 3bedr double story unit would most likely be less than the pokey 2 bedroom place she was interested in. We would hang in there for the difference! A premium is now paid for closeness to latte sipping venues and bookshop browsing opportunities. Mothers with prams while nonchalantly sipping a latte from a carton cup while strolling about can add thousands to properties. A premium is also paid for 6am coffee shops opening while catering for lycra clad bikers/joggers and senior dog strollers with fold-out walking sticks.

The mood at the auction was electrifyingly tense. People were eyeing each other, trying to estimate the depth of their wallets. I had pre-booked our interest and my bidding number was nr. 9. The auction started at exactly 9am. It must be the law. No late comers allowed upsetting the procedures.  We had a pre-arranged limit over which we would not bid. Our daughter was tense. We pointed out the smallness of the unit. Will this be enough for you and two growing teen-age sons, we asked?  She just nodded a bit nervously. How much the worth of latte, I could have added but did not.

The crowd had gathered outside, and a movie camera was pointed towards all of us. There would have been a fair sprinkling of neighbours curious about how much their units had shot up over the last year or so. Sydney is now the most expensive city in the world and a dangerous bubble is ready to bust anytime.

The opening bid after a few seconds was $ 850.000.-. It soon was incremented by $5000.-lots, when it all started to stall at around $ 900.000,- Our limit was  firm at $920.000.- I kept calm but knew we would soon be out of the picture. The auctioneer started getting serious and wanted it to get over with. No doubt he had other auctions scheduled for later on. He started to raise his little wooden hammer, his tool of trade, and threatened to call it. The real action started. The serious buyers were now getting into their stride. The final bid was $ 970.000.-

The oddness at auctions is that when the property gets sold, people clapped as if they had seen a performance or an opera. Perhaps it was operatic. I enjoyed it. But, the buy was over the top. Our top anyway. I felt relieved and Helvi was ecstatic. She felt it was far too small and dark

The auctioneer congratulated the successful bidder by saying, ‘ well bid, Sir.’

Only the lonely

February 8, 2017

 

DSCN2836

But where are the people? This was very often a question asked during the time we had foreign students living with us. We lived in Balmain. It is a suburb which many Australians would classify as having medium to high density living. We always look back with fondness of the twenty years we lived there. It is the place where our children grew up. So, how come this question; but where are the people?

The foreign students came from Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Germany with a couple from Holland. The question has to be looked at from the perspective of living in cities. Australia right from the start understood it had space.  Space was lacking in England, especially in the big smoked filled cities. Thus the suburban block here was soon to be seen as desirable for people to be housed on. At the beginning, people lived in terrace houses joined together forming complete streets. Balmain was one of those earlier suburbs of Sydney with streets of terrace houses. Parks were everywhere and it still felt very spacious.

However, the foreign students came from cities that were teeming with people. They would form throngs on the streets. I am sure that those that have been to Asia understand there is a huge difference between density of people there in cities compared to here in Australia. It were those people on the streets that the students were sorely missing, even in inner city Balmain.

My parents soon after arrival in 1956 went to live in western Sydney. Real Estate agents and blocks of land were the main topics of conversation amongst the migrants.  We too were swept up into saving a deposit for our ‘own’ block of land.  There was no real understanding of the social consequences in making a choice of where to live.  To be near a rail-station was desirable but as for other desirable needs, it just wasn’t about or questioned. Migrants had a need to have a roof and security of an income, all else was secondary. It was like a fever. One got caught up in the frenzy of making a new life. It was all a bit puzzling for my dad. He was different.

The street that my parents ended up living in was like millions of suburban streets anywhere in Australia. There were people living in houses but you would rarely see them. It felt achingly lonely. Sometimes a curtain would stir or a car would drive by. For me it was deadly, spiritual dehydration. Sure, the petunias and rockeries were plenty. Rosellas would be screeching and flying about and then there was cracker night. This was a yearly event with bon-fire on the street, somehow mysteriously related to Guy Fawkes or something. It was an occasion for neighbours to meet up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes

All this in response to having read a lecture by Hugh MacKay. He is a well know social commentator. “The State of the Nation starts in your Street.”

http://theconversation.com/hugh-mackay-the-state-of-the-nation-starts-in-your-street-72264

It seems to fit in what is happening with all that card swiping and waving at poles. We are forced to dealing with less and less people. Banking is done silently in front of an ATM. People buy food on-line and sit at home all sated and possibly overweight. The steel posts at rail stations. Most work will finally be done by  steel posts and robots. Soon we might go to bed enjoying the icy embrace of a steel post or with a rotating robot with a waving of cards giving consent to heaven knows what sexual delights

.

I don’t know what can be done to liven up lonely suburban streets. My mum did her best and was fearless in her search for social contact. It was difficult. All those Venetian blinds and that obsession with privacy. A sign of change is that most people now prefer an apartment close to the city. People do seem to want to live close to each other, able to walk to shops and work. People need people.

We shall see!

Receding years and fatal memories. ( For seniors)

August 2, 2016

IMG_20150519_0001

My Mother on the left, Aunt Agnes on right, her brother in the middle

Those with more receding years behind than advancing years in front, might still remember visiting Aunts and their endless talk about illnesses and ailments. As a child it made me almost sick having to accompany our parents to visit ancient Aunts. My hair would be duly roughly brushed up and my nails scraped clean. I had to wash my hands. For some reason, they were all called Aunts, even when not related. I think my parents underestimated my observation skill in detecting lies.

On top of everything else, we were forced to kiss them on arrival and again on departure. One Aunt had facial hairs sprouting, another a permanently dripping nose. I was bored shitless and had to sit still. I remember passing time staring at Aunts and listening to their litany of ailments with detailed frailties enthusiastically regaled in all its minutia. My mother told us a very old Aunt sat on a chair that held a toilet. We were strictly forbidden to stare at this. Of course we stared at nothing else. We never forgot anything to do with toilets.

We had one Aunt running a grocery shop in Eindhoven. A couple of lollies did relieve the visits somewhat, but only just. She had a very large and frightening nose. Another Aunt was better and used to send me cut-out copies of a very favourite Newspaper strip, ‘Erik de Noorsman’ or ‘Eric The Norseman.’ She was Aunt Agnes and very kind. No hairs that I remember!

It was when I turned twelve or so that those obligatory visits were finally done away with. I became stronger in my resistance but am sure it left permanent damage.
Of course, migrating to Australia when I turned fifteen, pushed all visits to Aunts permanently into the annals of our family, even though a couple of Aunts did visit us in Australia.

Seventy years later and the shoe now fits the other foot. However, even though I am still no Aunt, I have facial hair. No toilet built into my fauteuil as yet. I do consider my grandkids. I love seeing them, but leave them mainly to their own devices when here. I have taken to reading again those crime stories by Henning Mankell. I was a third down reading one, when the book just vanished. I turned the whole bedroom upside down. It got taken by someone, and I reckon the fifteen year old grandson snitched it. I am so proud if he did. Stealing books is to be encouraged. I don’t want to ask him. In fact, if the book is stolen, I will leave another Mankell (unobtrusively) again for next time.

This is what was lacking in those time long gone visits. Kids were expected to behave. Why did they not give books or toys to kids visiting aunts? Where were the uncles? I cannot remember a single uncle. Did the war claim them? Was it smoking related? Where did they go?. In jail perhaps? How odd.

It now reminds me of ‘The Book Thief.’ Life during those Aunt visit seems to have stood still. Yet, it is all so magically and reverently coming to the fore now. I read a book about the Death of a Moth and named our flower shop in Sydney’s Balmain, ‘Bloomsbury.’ Bloomsbury was a group of English writers, philosophers, intellectuals and eccentrics that included amongst many, Virginia Woolf.

The simple and inevitability of life. How wonderful.

Back to Memory Lane and Alexander van der Bellen.

May 24, 2016

 

DSCN2837

Gertrude Cottage

Yesterday we decided to combine a visit to our daughter and grandsons with a visit to a local market near where we used to live. It has been twenty years since we left the inner city suburb of Balmain. Faithful readers of my ‘Oosterman Treats’ of bits and pieces’ might remember we first strayed into this area back around the late 1960’s. Freshly married and with two daughters in tow, we bought ‘Gertrude’s cottage’ for $ 12500.-. It came with glorious views and shimmering sunshine reflected on the hardwood floor just below the Harbour’s bridge and its blue waters. It also came with a couple of woody-weed eating goats.

It was then possible to save and buy a place. It seemed to be within reach of a normal working young couple. Today, that’s not possible. That house would now be over three Million. I don’t understand why this is so. Some say, wealthy Chinese from mainland China are buying houses. Others claim that the shortage of houses are to blame. Some of the more radical (xenophobic) claim that the foreigners are buying up and just leave the houses empty and pick up on the capital gain.

It seems to me an accident waiting to happen. Correction seems inevitable. How can houses be left empty when the need for houses and housing is so great? Look at the refugee camps around the world. Some have housed people for generations. The young grow up into adulthood and have children of their own, all in refugee camps,not knowing anything else.

Anyway, a glimmer of hope can be gleaned from Austria. Alexander van der Bellen has become president. He nipped the anti-refugee right wing contender within a narrow margin. I like Mr van der Bellen already. At seventy three he still enjoys cigarettes ( why should I torture myself giving up smoking at my age) and loves comic books. He is also green and an outspoken champion for the underdog and refugees.

He comes from an aristocratic Russian-Dutch-Estonia background and both his parents were refugees from the Stalinist dictatorship. He is not just a tree hugger but also a professor and an economist. Not a bad mixture. Let’s hope he throws off the anti refugee mentality that now so often seems to grab headlines instead of the much more prevalent and common more humane views of the majority of people. He did win the election!

I do hope that in Australia too, we will see a resurgence of a more humane majority emerging from this steaming racist xenophobic morass of Australia that seems so often to grab the limelight. Mind you, with Murdoch still hanging around, it is not surprising.

http://www.amazon.com/Almost-There-Fragments-Restless-Life/dp/0994581033/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1464128774&sr=8-1&keywords=Almost+There+by+Gerard+Oosterman