Posts Tagged ‘Chickens’

Give us back our Country

March 14, 2017

 

IMG_0829The Salvia

It is so heartening hearing that South Australia is now trying to nationalize the Electricity industry. Remember Australia had a Commonwealth Bank, the GIO, the PMG and above all we owned our resources. It was all owned by Australia and its people, us. We were rich. Australia was a country who had it all. The envy of the world.

And then, the ugliness of capitalism reared its head. It started with lowering taxation. Government after government  got in by waxing and manuring greed by promising to lower taxation. The inevitable shortfall of revenue was fixed by  selling everything under the sun. Leases on vast areas of our resources were sold to individuals who started  companies specialising in selling our previously owned coal, iron ore, uranium, silver, gold, oil and much  more to the highest bidders. Enormous profits were distributed to shareholders but not to the people who previously owned it all.

And then after selling off the resources that Australia has almost unlimited ownership off to private individuals, our Government owned bank,  The Commonwealth Bank, was sold off, followed by our own insurance company , The GIO, followed hot on the heels by Post Master General, morphing into the present Telstra. The Government had once again some more  revenue, enough to prop up creaking infrastructures, health, schools, roads, public transport.

But when all that money  went, poverty crept in once again. It became harder and harder to find the money. Increasing revenue through taxation  was electoral suicide. It was easier to allow poverty to creep into the masses. Pensions were cut, social services were cut, queues at hospitals became longer. The divide between the haves and have nots became wider. Educational levels lowered, students are now struggling to get basic language and numeracy skills. Skilled jobs were filled by importing overseas workers and so the list goes on.

The States too, got onto selling stuff. Water was privatised, and electricity. Poles and Wires with both water and electricity prices going through the roof. Shareholders are rubbing their hands in glee. Riches are made but only to the few. The money made out of selling public utilities are only short term solutions. It should never have happened. Australia should have kept control of its country. Why are French companies now running and determining the electricity prices in South Australia? It is crazy.

Is it time to take it back? Nationalise what previously was owned by us, the people. South Australia is on the way of doing that. We should applaud that. Did anyone watch the ABC’s Four Corners program on the state of the US. People earning such low wages, whole families living in tents or single rooms. Kids being fed packets of chips or stale pizzas. All those glittering advertisement, miles of MacDonald’s signs and the insane grinning Colonel Kentucky chickens running amok.  They are now the largest employers of people who get payed so little they are reduced to dismal poverty. They try and smile so heroically; what would you like with your chicken/ hamburger sir, they say while wearing a cap?

Surely proof of terminal capitalism in its death throes.

Teaching and the obstinate Shetland pony ( Auto-biography).

August 14, 2015

 

We all know that Shetland ponies are escape artists. When you see them looking down, they are actually thinking. “How the hell can I get out of this joint?”. Our Shetland was a Houdini. I would get a phone call; “Hey Gerard your horse is in town.” I would jump on my bike with the lead in hand. I would cycle back, Shetland on rope, give her a stern talking to and put her back in with the sheep and chickens. I would again fix the wire fence but also knew she would soon figure a way out again. When the foal was born she stopped escaping.

There are so many memories fondly embedded in that period that I am at risk of never finishing what I set out to do. The aim is to meander from the beginning of my family’s migration in 1956 till my present state of blissful dotage. Still, words at times seem to have a will of their own, like a Shetland, and lead to unexpected and totally arbitrary directions. My apologies.

The job of teaching came about though a friend named Jan Muller who was doing the salt glazed pottery and lived in the museum village of Orvelte, and who was teaching at a collage for adults. After a short interview I started teaching at the same college. That was the best time of our stay in Holland. The first day of teaching was somewhat nerve-wrecking. Who was I to teach anything? I wasn’t taught anything. Failed even the Phyllis Bates ‘academy of dance’ of Fox trot and the Rumba. And that was with the dance steps painted on the floor!

Of course I had a good grounding from Desiderius Orban, the Hungarian master teacher at The Rocks in Sydney. He lived till 101 years and at the time we were in Holland I was still in contact with him. Fear is what prevents many from employing what we are all born with. The ability to express and give form to some creativity, no matter how humble or grandiose. The first lesson, if I remember correctly, was to try and get all the adults to put charcoal or pencil to paper. Now, if you had a group of toddlers, they would instantly without exception start to doodle furiously and with great joy! Not so with many adults. It is sad. They lost this spontaneity and joy. Many would as a first option say; ‘I can’t draw.’ They say that before any attempt was made to put a single dot on the paper. How do you know?  You don’t know if you don’t try!  ‘Go on, put the charcoal on the paper just draw a line or just a single dot’!

My first day was to try and make the students approach the paper without fear. Somehow the enthusiasm of the toddler had to be regained. That is what my aim of teacher was. I could not teach just skill or things like shading or making portrait eyes follow you around the room, photo-like images of apples or strawberries so real that the paper or canvas was almost bitten into by the ambitious but starving student while wearing a beret and dirty pants.

 

Cheer up old Man

September 20, 2012

Cheer up Man

March 3, 2011

Cheer up ManPosted on March 3, 2011 by gerard oosterman

There is nothing like home. You can imagine the people’s plight on being stuck renting on a 6month lease basis. I can’t understand how anyone can cheerfully change their home being at the mercy of a 6 month lease.

Yet, before we came out here, renting was the norm and most people would spend their entire lives just in one property.  I ‘earth-googled’ our old address back in The Hague. Sure enough it is as if we left it yesterday. The street is unchanged, the doors and windows still the same, and not a brick has changed. No doubt, all those living there are renting the same as when we lived there. Perhaps, central heating and bathrooms have been added and kitchens with hot water. We lived on the top floor. At the bottom floor there were gardens and many of those lucky bottom dwellers kept chickens. A city still had chickens and veggie scraps were collected each week by horse and cart.

Yet, going back to Revesby whose architecture is far more recent, all has changed and our house hardly recognizable, the walls covered with colour bond weather board and a solid terra cotta tiled roof instead of the cement tiles that were put on when built originally… Many of the houses have had stories added, some with columns holding up little Romanesque like triangle bits of roofing or other odd bits of architecture.

Coming across some old photos of my first year here in Revesby, I can hardly believe how time has passed, and yet, I don’t think I have hurried the years unnecessarily.  Have I stood still but the houses and surroundings changed? Would this, not having moved from Holland, have produced the reverse?

You’re getting old with retrospection a sure sign, many would argue, as if years ahead for them are still numbered in multiple of decades. Yet, reading the obituaries’, it is not uncommon for people to cark it quite happily at the age some of us are in now. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Cheer up, old man. The best is yet to come.