Posts Tagged ‘Cafe’

The compulsion to vote or the freedom not to?

July 21, 2020

Civic Culture Coalition: Entertainment Industry-Backed ...

On my morning’s coffee, tête-à-têtes (some with masks) with friends at Bowral Cricket Stumps cafe I was surprised to hear that many thought the law on compulsory voting was normal and mainly world-wide. I pointed out that the list of countries with compulsory voting on punishment made Australia mixed with some strange company.

Here a list of countries with compulsory voting enforceable by punishment.

Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Nauru, NORTH KOREA, Samoa, Singapore, Uruguay.

The rest of he world is free to vote or not. Some have compulsory voting but not enforced s a Egypt, Albania, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico.

While one of the freedoms of democracy is that we can eat and drink what we like, including copious Cokes, and kilos of sugar, fat, apples and much more. We have total freedom to take or leave it. We also have freedom of speech, press and so much more again. We are loaded with freedoms. Yet it strikes me as odd that we do not have that freedom when it comes to voting. We are not free not to vote.  Most of the world’s democratic countries leave voting to, hopefully a well informed population. America does not have compulsory voting , they have a ‘right’ to vote but also the freedom not to vote. They also have a ‘right’ to bear arms but no one is forced to use those arms. ( sometimes it seem like it with 40 000 killed annually by this ‘right’.)

Disgruntled Voter (@jasondulak) | Twitter

An argument against voluntary voting is that it makes people politically lazy and uninterested. That does not bear out either.

Here copied from ‘The Advocate’. During the (second) last federal election.

“New polling by Essential absolutely belled the cat on this phenomenon.

It asked respondents if they knew who the federal treasurer was, without looking it up.

More than one third (36 per cent) did not know it was Scott Morrison.

Thirteen per cent thought it was ex-treasurer Joe Hockey, 3 per cent thought it was Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and 20 per cent said they did not know.

With no disrespect to the 36 per cent, why should they be forced to the polling booth if they don’t  take enough interest to know who holds the second most important role in the government?”

I was surprised that at my café group most thought that compulsory voting was normal and all over the world, and fiercely opposed the idea that it perhaps ought to be choice. Patriotic feathers were ruffled. When asked if I thought it essential to have compulsory voting I said I did not believe it. My backgrounds and that of my dearest late Helvi, ( The Netherlands and Finland) are from very staunch democratic and liberal countries. We grew up with the freedom to vote or not.

To punish people for not voting strikes me as odd.

Of course, a disclaimer; I vote with passion at every possible election. Gerard.

 

Life as a sandwich.

June 17, 2020

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It would be rare for most of us to go through life without, at one stage or another, having become intimate with a sandwich. The earliest memories that most of us might have of a sandwich probably dates back to very early childhood. In my own case, I became aware not just of a sandwich but a whole loaf of the ingredients that sandwiches are mainly made of, bread. It was given to me by a German soldier during the last few days of WW2. He was stationed below street level in a cellar in the street we were living in. It was welcomed by my mother like a gift from heaven. We were starving. I feared that the German soldier’s gift of bread might well have been his last action. It happened in Rotterdam.

After that memorable event, and food returning in a more normal manner that the sandwich became a huge part of our lives. And really, it hasn’t stopped so far. There would be few days that this type of food would not be consumed by me today. I still have vivid memories of my mother making huge piles of sandwiches, each day without a let up, except on Sundays when we did not go to one school or the other. With six children and a husband, the making of sandwiches was  a major task which in those times usually fell on the woman of the house.

It was difficult to keep making sandwiches that would satisfy the hungry child and again from memory, it also depended a bit on our financial situation. When money was short, my mum resorted to a simple but generally well liked sandwich, and that was the simple sugar sandwich. A smidgeon of butter and plain white sugar thinly spread and embedded in the butter. A delicacy, still fondly remembered. Another favourite would be the biscuit sandwich. I can’t remember ever having had the luxury of meat on a sandwich. At best, it would be cheese. It wasn’t sliced cheese but a soft variety that could be spread as thin as possible, just to give a mere hint of taste. Peanut butter was my favourite but that did not come cheap!

I am not sure if people still take sandwiches to work. Cafes are now more in vogue and with more money, the home-made sandwich by mum seems to be fighting a rear action. However, the creative side of making sandwiches has made enormous improvements. Some cafes are making delicious sandwiches with combinations that defy gravity, so appealing behind the glass counter, one feels they could take off.

Of course, in the old day when kids took sandwiches to school and well before the advent of air conditioning, many sandwiches during the stifling heat of mid-summer, would get a bit blowsy, stale and smelly. Was  it Barry  Humphries, who when as a schoolkid he would shout out after someone had farted, ‘who opened their lunchbox?’ In those early days, Australian mums would make the much revered banana sandwich, and with the coming of preservatives, the devon sandwich would slowly start making its entrance in the hallowed grounds of the public schools.

And then of course, many schools as an aid to raising funds would open tuck shops. The sausage roll and meat pie made their entries, but that is for another story.

It just never stops.

The importance of Grape Hyacinths.

June 2, 2020

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Grape hyacinth.

Even though many of the restrictions on the Corona virus have been lifted I noticed still a kind of hesitance amongst people. There hangs a fear to getting close, and all those tape and red crosses on floors and grounds isn’t conducive to closeness. Park seats even have crosses on them. I still am afraid to stand or sit anywhere. A few times at the supermarket I noticed people backing away when I walk past them. There are sign still asking people to respect and consider each other and that we are all in the same position. Patience and consideration are being tested.

I took my daughter last night to the railway station and there too were sign to stay clear of each other. The public toilets were locked and so was the waiting room. There were solid padlocks on everything that had a door. It was freezing cold and we could not be further away from other people because she was the only person on the whole rail station. She told me she was also the only passenger in the rail wagon she had jumped in.

Isn’t it sad how the US is now tearing itself apart? China now does not have to do anything to show that democracies can fail miserably. This is why in order to keep sane we might have to move away from both political and human made failures. I can think of no better way than to concentrate on the good and honest earth;  The joy of making soils with cow, chicken, turkey, and mushroom compost, all of which I have been investing in. I wrote previously that I had planted a whole lot of grape hyacinths bulbs some weeks ago. And, even though we are just at the beginning of winter, the advice on planting bulbs was during late autumn, and they now have started, albeit very gingerly, rearing their little heads poking the soil. I risked pneumonia darting outside in my shirt and socks to take these pictures. It was freezing with a strong wind and just 8C.

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The irises have also reared up.

I had to add gas heating to my town house as the reverse cycle ducted aircon just wasn’t doing its job. I am not of such a stoical disposition to enjoy cold. Some do, though. It always surprises me that during these wintry gales and frosty morning I see some walking about in shorts, t-shirts and thongs. What’s wrong with them? Perhaps it is my old age which doesn’t really matter unless you are a cheese.

So, now that I am settled in my new place, I can look forward to a nice garden, good friends, (including the softer ones) and my Café meetings at the Bradman Cricket grounds called ‘Stumps’, world famous cricket grounds. Life is good.

I’ll leave you with this picture of my cyclamen.

 

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The way forward to a more rounder and softer future.

May 8, 2020

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Etching by G. Oosterman

It seems hard to believe but the past is so much larger than the future. Joining the army or the police force is now definitely off my agenda. From my previous abode in Bowral I used to see a large crane helping to build a new hospital. I could have been a crane driver, but that did never eventuate. Mind you, I did work on swinging stages on multi story buildings and was lucky not to suffer from fear of heights, and it paid well.

Each day that crane almost towers over me when meeting my new friends at the cricket park where we queue for a coffee first before sneaking round the back to sit in the grandstand. It is a very sunny grandstand. There are many chairs whose seats are spring-loaded and of a faded green that I think might well have something to do with the game of cricket. Perhaps it helps the patrons seated on those chairs to see the cricket ball clearer as that has a dark reddish-brown colour. A matter of contrasts perhaps to the chairs? The spring loaded part gets a bit snappy and for those with the male propagation equipment it calls for some caution when getting up. One doesn’t want to be tethered to the seat of a chair that is bolted to concrete.

Six months have passed. Living on my own has been painful but also rewarding in that I am still alive. It surprises me daily. If grief was capable of causing mortal wounds I would surely have died many times over. On the contrary, I am now having moments of great happiness and joy as well as those on the opposite scale of feelings. I feel, therefore I am, even sometimes catch the sound of laughter coming forth just like that. The miracle of friendship with others and especially during the lockdown has been a blessing and will be treasured. Overcoming has been successful, so grateful!

Not only laughter springing forward but thoughts about a friendship of the more intimate nature. Would that still be possible? Care has to be taken not to assume that things are still the same as before. It has been noticed for a while that the awakening in the mornings, and situated underneath the doona, are not so gloriously filled and swollen as used to be in the past.  I can hear a refrain from those from the so lovely and more softly endowed opposite or female gender; ‘It is not important, there is more to life or love than your stupid state of tumescence on your awakening.’ Yes, that is true, but even when faced with mortality getting closer, I am not totally sex-dead yet. I still get twinges and even suffer (at infrequent times) thoughts of a clearsighted sexual clarity and vividness that can be utterly mouth-watering. Perhaps I am bragging, in truth my sexual clarity would probably be pretty meek and limp towards the need for a hug and a kiss more than anything.

Even so, I am now giving vent to thoughts of romance and a possibility no matter how faint and ridiculous, in trying to find a person of the softer, rounder and more opposite, nubile sex that can forgive and put up with a less than mouth-watering male.  We shall see. I am no Ferrari with twelve cylinders, more of a smoky Goggomobil with worn out rings. You have to be attracted to the simple things in life. (like men)

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Just in case!

oostermn@tpg.com.au