Posts Tagged ‘Dad’

The story of Bookshelves and Yassmin Abdel Magied’s demise.

July 12, 2017

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Apart from Dad’s struggling with the Victa lawnmower and keeping the kerosene-heater’s wick trimmed, he also bravely accepted the lack of books. He once asked in his usual contemplative tone; ‘Gerard, have you seen any books about in our neighbourhood?’ I must admit that at the age of enjoying my first hormonal drives at sixteen, I hadn’t thought much about books. I was a keen admirer of Jules Verne in Holland, but he slipped away after arrival in Sunny Australia. I had to make and work over-time, save money for the future. My Father followed his previous remark up by his observation that, at Mrs Murphy next door, he hadn’t seen any books at all. ‘Mind you, we have only seen the kitchen so far,’ he added optimistically.

It was mainly through my Mother’s persistent and holtz-hammer method that we had even achieved this penetration into neighbour’s next door’s kitchen. It were those minor achievements that made life bearable after our arrival. My parents keenly trying to make a home in what turned out for me to be a most dismal suburban few years. If ever a far flung Sydney suburb shone in neatness and pride with its occupants soaked up in total fenced-off privacy it was Revesby’s McGirr Street in 1957.

We had involuntary chosen to live in the epicentre of  lives , that can only be described, as being agonisingly slow, lived in extreme political ‘niceness.’ It was out of ignorance more than choice. One had to settle down and own home was a fever that still sweeps through Australia as I write.

It was painfully normal and desirable but I could not understand its bleakness. The struggle after arrival was to quickly buy a home, and if possible this home had to be close to a railway-station.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-11/yassmin-abdel-magied-says-she-feels-betrayed-by-australia/8699138

The lack of book issues that Dad grappled with did not really get resolved. I suppose it must have faded in his memory after their return to Holland in 1974. Like salmons flopping upstream to return to their spawning grounds, Mum found again the familiarity of her Dutch neighbourly cosiness and Dad his bespectacled friends peopled by books while questioning Dostoevsky or the bitter Holland weather. In his old age, he once reflected that it just wasn’t the lack of books but that the available book-shelving that he finally spotted in the New Country were used to store garden herbicides or rat poison, with tools for keeping the grass short , all ready for the next assault on unruly weeds which were kept for the ready on the back-veranda.

And now in 2017, decades later, has Australia  grown wiser more inclusive and accepting of differences? Have the kitchens of ‘give and take’ opened up? No one certainly needs to feel deprived of garlic, and the kebab has taken a strong hold at country fairs, even as far away as Coonabarabran. The meat pie however is under threat and in our town of Bowral it was felt by the Municipal Council to hold a week in which to praise and celebrate the meat pie in order to re-invigorate its proper culinary position at the head of the dinky-dye Australian dining table. Time will tell, but some fear the worst and are nervous.

Our PM certainly tells us we are the most tolerant and most culturally diverse nation in the world. Most of us have foreign blood surging through our veins, but, he does also direct us to not go all funny and foreign after arrival. We do need to genuflect and hold to the True and long held Australian values. We must not allow too much foreignness. Foreign blood ought to be directed and channelled to follow well proven roads and he urges us maintain certain ‘values.’ One of those values that must not be tangled with is the Anzac Value. The value of war and battle fought during the world wars. The battle that defines us most as a people and a country must never be forgotten. This is the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey.

History tells us coldly, this battle was a disaster and Churchill should never have given this order. Today it would most likely be seen as a war-crime. Australians were massacred by the thousands… and it was totally avoidable. Of course, it is argued that those thousands that died on those salty Turkish beaches should never be forgotten, hence, ‘Lest we forget.’ One of our true Australians, Yassmin Abdel Magied agreed, but  thought as a considerate and passionate believer in justice for all, that we should also include in remembering the plight of those in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and  Manus and Nauru. This was seen as a breach of being good and true ‘Australian’. It was heresy. You don’t muck about with Anzac day, it seems.

After weeks of bullying and pestering, with posters being plastered about for her to be ‘taken-out’  and that she should be deported or at least sacked, her address, phone and Facebook taken away, she finally had enough and plans to go and live in England. She claims that Australia is only tolerant if one ‘toes the line.’ It seems that the extreme semi- literate racists Pauline Hansons,  and Jacqui Lambie are the really nice Australians.

Yassmin is a trained engineer, female, a Muslim Australian, well educated and speaks better English than the previously mentioned racist politicians. She is an asset to Australia and a beacon for tolerance and inclusiveness.

What a great pity and loss for Australia.

The question is; Where does this hatred come from?

Is a sugar-tax cricket?

March 20, 2016
Still in The Hague. My parents

Still in The Hague. My parents

 

The last few weeks have been trying. Getting a book to fruition during a heat-wave is nothing more than self-flagellation. Readers might remember that it was suggested to change back the Father and Mother words to Dad and Mum. This was done via my newly advised and learned Word- processing trick, by instantly replacing all the words in the whole book instead of trawling through the whole manuscript, word by word. It even lets you know how many Mums and Dads were changed. There were new issues about ‘keeping Mum about a secret, ‘changed instantly into ‘keeping Mother….’

Of course, during changing from Father& Mother back to Mum and Dad (for the second time,) when writing about an episode of a budding artistic career involving hand painting Friesian Grand-Father clocks with windmills and sea-gulls in endless flight, it changed into Grand-Dad clocks. It still meant going again through it all. How does one remember having used words in a totally different context or co-joined? Just as well the Catechism wasn’t written. ‘It the name of the Dad, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

My good friend, Paul in Balmain offered to format the whole caboodle.  When it was mentioned more changes were likely to come, he stopped. The formatting formula whereby pages get numbered, photos with descriptions or titles underneath introduced, sub-headings appearing, the different fonts  and so much more, would all become hay wired when any changes are made. It does mean it finally has to come together as good as possible. And, all this, with not excluding serif or sans serif, is making an enormous demand on keeping sane.

It has now come about when opening a book the emphasis is on any mentioning and checking the fonts, both the size and look of the letters, spaces between paragraphs, the inclusion of ISBN number, catalogued with National libraries, the back page blurbs. Dedications and grateful murmurs to all sorts of helpful people. The issue of laying claim to copy-right. Issues of privacy and possible libel. Do people who get their manuscript published continue writing and reading?

Most publishers want the first few chapters and a bibliography. Others want the whole manuscripts ‘print-ready.’ Some want one to study the books they have published and write a synopsis of this or that book.

My goodness. One could have been a good surgeon, or prominent lawyer.

Rest assured that all is well. Just now I have made some cuts in potatoes, added chopped garlic and pepper and wrapped them in alfoil. Did the same with some carrots and shallots. For a few weeks all our cooking has been done outside. We sit in the shade with Milo chasing lizards. We chase some Shiraz instead and wait an hour or so when the spuds and carrots will be almost cooked. We put on the salmon cutlets with some red capsicums that have been sliced.

Voila, a perfect solution to book publishing fatigue. And…not a single spoonful of sugar is used. Poor old England, the sugar- tax bogey man is coming. People are starting to hoard sugar in their cellars. Soon, like smokers, sugar ingestion will be done on street corners behind newspapers or in dark alleys. People will try and stir in the sugar when no one is looking.  Husbands will be suspicious of wives coming from the larder. What is the world coming to…a sugar-tax!

The spirit of Christmas.

December 5, 2015

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My dad did not like garlic nor plastic flowers. Any devon sausage infused with garlic was not for him. Worse were the plastic flowers. Already then, plastic flowers and even plastic plants were a normal occurrence in people’s homes. ‘They last forever and look so pretty, almost like real flowers,”  many would say. Dad despaired about the country that so loved gardening, yet so accepting of that which wasn’t real. Is there anything else that is not real, he felt like asking?

Years later I worked for someone who had a holiday house at Palm Beach, North of Sydney. Avid readers of my blog might remember, my ruminating over my first visit to Palm Beach noting a total absence of waving palms. How  could anything be so blatantly wrong? Was this legal?

While in Palm Beach working, I came across a garden where the owner had actually planted plastic peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) in the garden. They were in full flower (perennially), a bit faded, but none the less flowering profusely. They weren’t real but that did not seem to bother the owner at all. I find that terrible. What else is accepted that is not real?

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Recently, our local council has e-mailed all those with e-mail  asking residents for input about planning the future of this shire. This includes the planting of trees along streets. In the past many cherry blossom trees were planted which looked out of place. The profusion of pink cherry blossoms in Spring at odds with the beauty of the native Eucalypts and fiery  Callistemon.

This area is very dominated and historically been peopled by many from England. Ireland and Scotland. The highlands with its much cooler climate reminded many of the ‘old’ country and subsequently many tried to make their houses and gardens a bit like Sussex, James Joyce’s or Oscar Wilde’s hair,  or Edinburgh castles. Some  gardens have little rose covered arches. Cute white painted cement-cast angels keeping watch over equally cute cement toddlers reading a book together in dappled light of an aged oak. You can’t help but take out a Thomas Hardy book and then try find a yeoman…, a Timothy the Thatcher or perhaps do a tempestuous Pride of Erin at the local food court.

Yes, the council plants year in year out the same plastic Christmas tree. A large one in the middle of a cosy town square. It doesn’t  even look real. It’s plastic shimmering in the baking sun.    My dad would have written a letter  to council, back in 1974 but now it is 2015, almost on the cusp of 2016!

With all the love of gardening and asking for input, council puts up an artificial tree?  What has changed? Surely a live tree could have been put up or even a cut-down pine or spruce? Something real. Christmas deserves that. What an example to the children!

 

The Christmas tree isn’t the only plastic greenery council has put up. The shopping streets in the small towns have all been decorated with cute little baskets of petunias, but…they are plastic. Of course in cold winters one would not have petunias, so…it makes it worse. And…council is employing town-planners…asking for input from locals…? What is going on here? They know better in Bali or Thailand. Nothing plastic flowering there.

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This year we bought a small tree made from small slats of sun- bleached driftwood. It isn’t real but it does not pretend (to be real).  Each year we normally take in a real conifer that we have growing in a pot. This year we thought it just too heavy to drag in. On the front door we hung a garland of intertwined wooden sinewy twigs which could also have been made from flotsam found along a Balinese beach. It is artistic and honest, unpretentious. In the middle of this garland is suspended a little wooden star ringed by very small electric little lights that go on as soon as it gets dark. Both look so nice and more real.

We will look at our driftwood decorations together and enjoy the Christmas spirit.