Posts Tagged ‘Dutch’

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

July 12, 2017

Image result for yassmin abdel-magied

 

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?

Early Television.

May 30, 2017

 

It was surprising that, after our arrival in 1956, Australia had yet to welcome Television. The Dutch introduced black and white television in 1951 with Phillips being the first to manufacture the television set. It wasn’t till 1989 that the Dutch Government even allowed public broadcasting of commercials on the radio and television. Even today Holland seems fairly modest in public display of advertising hoardings. Thank goodness for that. On TV, it is however just as hellish with advertising in Holland as in Australia. One reason we never watch the commercial stations, except for SBS channel. We are now experiencing another form of movie watching in Netflix.  I bet it too will include advertisements urging us to add and buy enhancing lifestyle products.

My early impression of TV watching was in Holland standing in front of radio shops. The introduction of Television was of such national interest that people queued up in front of electrical shops selling the first of television sets. Even just the flickering of the screen was greeted by many Dutch burghers being mesmerized by it all, sometimes standing ten deep in front of those shops. When the weak transmission signal came good and actual images were produced the crowd broke into an applause sometimes even shouting ‘encore’ as if in a life theatre.

IMG_1087Milo 2017

When the event of the television came to Australia around the late fifties, it immediately was accompanied by advertisements. Favourite advertisements were for electric Sunbeam fry-pans, Omo soap powders, Camel cigarettes and of course the much desired  TV sets made from wood veneer and standing somewhat forlorn on splayed legs over which many a family member would stumble. Now of course there are whole jungles of electronics available. Most would now be regarded as lifestyle accoutrements. Sooner or later though, no matter what form of electronic device one buys, it will be loaded with advertisements.

One early advertisement still etched belatedly in my fading memory during those heady early TV broadcasts in Australia was the advertisement of Kellogg’s Cornflakes.  It was shown on TV with the help of a beautiful woman seated at a luridly coloured laminex table with similar splayed legs. She was seductively eating this wonderful crunchy Kellogg’s breakfast with the promise of making her ‘regular’. I foolishly confused her outrageous claim to regularity with being in time. I thought that this breakfast was making her come in time for her work, taking children to school or appointment with the hairdresser, and never thought it had anything to do with the delicate state of her bowels.

In fact, during those early years almost all food advertisements were pitched at making women achieve good levels of regularity. It was years later when I learned that women were keenly addicted to head-ache powders containing phenacetin. Apart from the resulting obstinate persistence of cemented bowels,  many suffered kidney failure in later life when those particular pain killers were banned. It must have caused many to suffer from bouts of unimaginable constipation. In factories, canny Medicine moguls installed coin operated headache powder dispensers. Women would flock to put in a penny and get and APC or Bex powder. I was perplexed that so many would queue up to buy those powders. I asked and one woman told me it would ‘pick her up.’  The expression ‘having a cup-o-tea, a Bex powder, and a good lie-down’ came from that period

I don’t know if Kellogg’s cornflakes helped those utterly confused female bowels. The TV did promise so many things. For some reason, men were not shown to suffer bouts of irregularity on TV. Perhaps it lacked masculinity. No doubt with their enormous beer consumption, the male bowel was in robust health all the time.

Our early years in Australia were used productively in a fast ‘learning curve.’

Woe those that save and live frugally

March 6, 2017

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There is always that pull to and fro of our past. Some say, don’t look back. But with age comes an oversupply of what has been and much less of what is yet to come. I am talking of time, not substance. It’s most unlikely that at the age of seventy-seven one contemplates joining the army or seek a career in investment banking. Sure, some go climb mount Everest or take up the piano, but most contemplate things and end up rummaging around in memories. I do.

One of the good things that was ingrained still occupies my train of thoughts. It was one my parents main input. ‘Live within your means. Save for what you want and don’t waste.’  This was also reinforced by the political system back in Holland. The era of consumerism never took The Netherlands in the same way it was embraced by Australia. Buying things on credit was unheard of. Today, this very different and the credit card is also embraced. Even so, some national habits are well ingrained. I believe even eating raw herrings is as much a pastime now as it was when I lived there. Saving is still held in high esteem.

This might well be the reason that of all the countries in the world, The Netherlands now hold the enviable record of 103 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth.  While much of that growth is contributed to cutting welfare and taxes and giving corporations greater freedom, Holland still enjoys a generous welfare system. Excluding costs of education, Holland spends 24.3 % of GDP (Gross Domestic Products) and comes in fairly high on the list of welfare spending. Australia spends 18% and  this is towards the lower end of world’s foremost economies. The US is the fourth lowest on welfare spending at 14.8%.

The Dutch pension gets paid irrespective of being poor or rich. Everyone who turns 65 gets it. It is a state insurance scheme whereby every one who works or has worked in the Netherlands gets a pension when turning 65. It is roughly 2% for every year that one has worked in Holland

http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Social-welfare-spending/%3E-%25-of-GDP/Excluding-education

This is all about our experience on how saving in Australia is being punished.  Since about two months ago the government changed tack on pensions. Those with savings above a certain limit would either get the old-age pension lowered or totally taken away. We lost our pension. It seems, that in Australia it is best to whoop it up and spend, spend. Burn your money, go gambling, load up your credit card, run up debts. You will ensure you get the pension.

https://www.svb.nl/int/en/aow/wat_is_de_aow/wie_krijgt_aow/

And by the way, the Dutch pension is about 70% 0f average wage instead of 40% in Australia. So, next time you hear Turnbull or Morrison going on how Australia is some kind of social paradise. It is NOT. We are pretty stingy when it comes to social welfare.

 

The Heat is Melting the Word Order if not the Books

January 17, 2017

 

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Grapes, strawberries and figs.

This heat of C37 is now sapping all the words. I can feel them draining down my legs melting onto the floor, seeping down the stairs and ending up, totally shambled around a battery of whirring fans. Yesterday we had the good fortune of locking ourselves up in the comforts of our air-conditioned car. We drove to Canberra to re-new a passport at the  Embassy. It took us just seven seconds to run from the coolness of our car, through the C39 throbbing heat in Canberra to the air-conditioned comfort of the Embassy.

The night just passed, was all sweat rock and roll. No passing of cooling breeze, just the pitiful sounds of maddening insects hurling themselves against the fly-screens of the bedroom windows, all opened in foolish anticipation of relief.. Sheets all  tangled between clammy legs, like  Dutch-wives. (The term ‘Dutch Wife’ or the Indonesian ‘Guling Belanda’ originates from early Dutch colonial times and refers disparagingly to a roll of bedding that is kept between the legs during hot tropical nights. I’ll let you decide on why this roll of bedding became a term of derision. The Dutch in Indonesia were sometimes seen as haughty  and their broad-bottomed wives as being cold.

On the way back home we stopped mid-way and had a late lunch. The streets were mostly deserted. The bitumen highway on the way home a simmering black coated Sahara. No fata morgana nor beckoning oasis. What about the garden, the garden? No storm predicted. Those that were predicted in the previous week had eluded our town to such a degree, people were now shaking their fists at the dark but rainless clouds.  Coarse oaths were renting the still hot air.

The geraniums defiant though. It just shows that in times of despair one can rely on the geranium. “No good watering now, it will scorch the bay leave trees, oh look at our hydrangeas, all dry and forlorn.  They will have to wait till dark, you do the back and I’ll do the front.” Such unity in times of crisis. For dinner we re-heated a magic chicken risotto that Helvi had made some time ago.

The heat did not subside and all we could do was to sit spread-eagled in front of the  fans which we had put on the fastest speed possible. One is an evaporative fan. It blows air through water and is supposed to work better. We were beyond caring, and just drank water mixed with a little red wine ( reward), and did nothing much more than look at each other and supress sighing with repeatedly saying to each other; “isn’t it hot?”

What else could we do?

It is hot!

Oranje Boven. (onder) The King and Queen of House of Orange.

November 1, 2016

 

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/dutch-royals-in-wa-to-mark-400th-anniversary-of-dirk-hartog-landing/news-story/3fa8e7f27793551c915088fcc8b0f8c4

“King Willem-Alexander — the second youngest monarch in Europe at 49 — and his 45-year-old fashionista wife, a former investment banker who hails from Argentina, soaked up the sun and spent time greeting their adoring fans, many who were dressed in orange and came waving Australian and Dutch flags.

Queen Maxima, a United Nations special advocate for financial development who is renowned for her chic fashion sense, looked resplendent in a unique beige and green dress by Dutch designer Mattijs van Bergen, matching headpiece, gloves and metallic slingback stilettos.

The royal couple are in Perth as part of a two-day visit, which includes experiencing Melbourne Cup Day at Ascot on Tuesday. The King’s last visit to WA was nearly 20 years ago before he was married.

Strolling along the Fremantle harbour, the couple was given a brief local history lesson by Fremantle historian Mike Lefroy before being officially welcomed by Premier Colin Barnett and his wife, Lyn”.

2dede84b63beca72886c73a230015ef1the-king

The reindeer in Finland are getting nervous. Christmas is nigh.

September 17, 2016

images Christmas shoppers

In the local Highlands Newspaper I noticed an advertisement seeking volunteers to act as Santa. Experience not required, but joviality and those with a deep ho, ho ho given preference. Females with rich chest resonance and dark vocal qualities accepted too. Glass ceilings are being broken here!.

Christmases are coming earlier and with greater urgency. We don’t want to miss out. Business is business and it can’t be harmful if we get the consumer alerted out of their winter slumber a bit earlier. Soon, the heat will be upon us. The cicadas are bursting out of their seventeen year wait already.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2001/02/17/2822486.htm

The Big W store near us has unpacked the Christmas cards and the novelty store nearby is selling beards, holy tinsels and mitres for aspiring Santas. It took us a couple of years to get used to this tropical Christmas. Instead of Holland’s snow and fondant we were supposed to take to beer, barbequed prawns and gherkins pierced enfolded in ham. The first Christmas in church the solemn suit was replaced by singlets, shorts and sweat. The local priest was not unknown to exude alcohol vapours when giving communion at the mid-night mass. Huge bogon moths would swirl around the lights as well as the heads of this herd of pious but slightly inebriated parishioners. One could almost hear the refrain; ‘Rudolf the red nosed reindeer.’

It did not help Dad’s resolve to accept this different type of Christmas. The jolliness of Australian Santa wasn’t really any different from the more solemn North European version, although at the time when we left in 1956, I don’t think that buying presents and spending money was as yet a big deal. It was more atmospheric and certainly a celebration and time of joy in each other and family, including the community. We would go around shaking hands. I suspect that my parents would have missed their own country most at times of Christmas.

We, the kids, would of course be found on the beach and surf, get coconut oil sprayed to hasten the browning up, and eat hot chips when hungry. I had an enormous balsa wood surfboard which I would paddle beyond the surf and miraculously did manage to ride some waves back in. Now, sharks and high rates of melanoma have put a dent in that part of culture. The beaches are notably quieter. Many a surfie is seen scanning the water for any sharks while shark spotting aeroplanes circle overhead. It must be tempting for sharks to see those legs dangling from surfboards. It is their territory.

Perhaps, bush walking and outback adventures will now become more popular. It is rather nice to sit in the shade of a large coolabah tree, sip a cool beer taken from the esky while having a small fire on which to cook some cutlets of lamb or even prawns. At least, your worst opponents might be a snake that got disturbed by you. We are reassured that snakes generally are shy and tend to crawl away. That must be so reassuring. I would rather go bush than surf in the sea.

In any case, Christmas is still three months away. I find the whole idea of yet another Christmas coming a bit disconcerting.

The Dutch Aunt married in Kings Cross.( Seniors only)

August 4, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

Faithful readers might remember a period when I was working for De Rotterdamse Bank, Bij-Kantoor Middenweg, Amsterdam South, as the book-keeper. It all happened during my first trip back to Holland around 1961/62 or so. A few years after my parents migrated to Australia. I wanted to work in an office wearing a suit and carrying an attaché briefcase to and fro work on the tram. It was also thought that my school friendships of the past could be resurrected. There was also the hope it might be possible to find a ‘good woman/girl.’ (I had already met ‘good woman’, but little did I know, but of that later.)

Prior to my first return to Holland and still in Australia, the search for first romantic liaisons had resulted in a piquant but dangerous episode with a large Maltese woman who was married to a nice butcher who kept a loaded shotgun in their marital wardrobe. While this episode solved some of my curiosities about the opposite sex, it wasn’t really all that edifying. The seduction came from her side, giving me a rather weak excuse. It happened while watching the epic ‘Bonanza’ with Ben Cartwright’s three sons chasing bad cowboys on galloping horses going around and around the same set of rocks. It was breathtaking in its audacity. The husband was sitting opposite! I was sure it wasn’t a reflection of Maltese cultural standards. I am so lucky to have survived. ( Dutch migrant shot dead while watching Bonanza!)

I was trying to make the best of my stay in Amsterdam, and lived with an uncle I never heard of. The poor man was permanently red in the face with anger about his former wife whom his was divorced from for many years. He also had cancer in his shoulder. He loved my chili meat patties which was nothing more than minced meat mixed with bread and lots of sambal. He felt it would burn his cancer away and cure him. It did not and he died a few months after I had left to live in Italy.

There were lonely times too, which my ‘good’ Aunt Agnes relieved somewhat by inviting me over to her place on Surinamer Plein, Amsterdam not far from the angry uncle. It was on one of those visits that she introduced me to one of her best friends who lived at the same address. It was a multi story building housing single women only. It is proof of the well developed social conscience of the Dutch that good housing is provided for all groups including single women. I never thought much of it and accepted that good social housing was the norm.

Aunt Agnes’s friend’s name was Rieta van de Meer. Also a retired teacher and never married. But, and here comes Rieta’s amazing story. On a holiday in Norway in the bus doing the rounds of Fjords and snow-capped mountains around Bergen, the Cupid angel of romance had shot it’s arrow inside this bus. She met a retired Australian farmer. He turned out to be the epitome of the jovial, easy going Australian. A barrel of laughter and lightness. Easy come easy go. The original larrikin of the ‘no worries’ man from the bush.

He was divorced too but not an ounce of rancour or bitter heart. He was also well retired, not short of a quid. Helvi and I met this jovial man a few years after Rieta and the ex-farmer married and living in Australia. She played the piano and both lived in an apartment in King’s Cross-Sydney, for many years. The hub of life and Continental excitement. It was obvious they both shone in each other’s company. He was a lot older and sadly going blind. She worked hard at making the best of it. I remember my parents visiting all of us and grandchildren in Australia meeting up with the happy couple. She was on the floor trying to hack open a can of something with a hammer and chisel. My Mum couldn’t understand the trouble she was going through. Rieta just laughed and said it amused her husband watching her trying to open the can. A kind of challenge.

It is never too late for joy and happiness.

The Gas bill.

July 13, 2016

IMG_0618home

The latest Gas Bill arrived yesterday and showed a surprising fall in usage compared with the same period of last year’s. And that is despite the gas rates having gone up. Some six years ago after moving in our town-house, we did fill up all possible cavities above ceilings with insulation blankets. It seems that the mania for installing downlights reached its zenith around that time too. We have dozens of them. The bathroom upstairs has three of those alone.

In the past, one light per room was the norm. With the innovation of low voltage lights, architects seemed to think they could now go berserk on installing a multitude of down-lights on every square metre of ceiling. Of course, by doing that they would not have found much opposition from the energy companies. The more wastage the better. It wasn’t till I crawled into the roof space one evening when I noticed the whole area ablaze with light as well. The insulation experts told us that a lot of leakage of both light and heat was due to the downlights. We had to put brackets over all the downlights above the ceilings so that the insulation could go over those downlights’ transformers, prevent possible fire.

The roofs already had insulation blankets underneath the rafters installed by the original builders. So, we have double insulation. Of course, this will not insulate us against our final ‘journey’, but at least we will be warm as long as possible in the process. This is also why we put in double glazing on all glass areas in our living spaces downstairs. Readers by now might well conclude we live like misers, going around the place with candles, cackling manically, and ghoulishly celebrating, re-reading old gas bills. This is not true. We live well. It is just a Dutch treat or trait, that wastage is the eternal enemy to guard against. It might well be genetic.

Today though we will really test the ability to stay warm. An icy blast from Antarctica is supposed to reach us within a matter of hours. Already further south, people have been warned to stay indoors. The TV news showed us people all huddled up and looking anxiously at the sky. They say, that keeping newspapers in between blankets is a good way to stay warm too. I would recommend NOT to use The Daily Telegraph, The Australian or The Financial Times. They are owned by Murdoch and likely to send shivers up your spine. The Sydney morning Herald or Dutch Australian Weekly, Suomilainen Lahti, Aldi’s catalogues or Die Woche are all fine.

Snow is expected to fall wide-spread, especially in the Southern Highlands where we are living. Well, we are prepared as well as possible and will survive. I do hope that those Danish doonas stolen so many years ago are still warming up a few lost souls. The events so long past whereby the thieves stole doonas and yet did not touch money or other valuables, speaks volumes. It still intrigues, does it not?

By the way. Our gas bill was $396,- compared with last year’s (over the same period) $489.-. The bill covers three months. We did have an extraordinary warm autumn though. Perhaps that explains it. Even so, the rates per M3 of gas did go up! I now pay those bills using the computer. Such has been my progress on using IT.

Relief for Seniors with Sun and Shadow.

June 13, 2016

IMG_0904after the flood

With the world reeling from disasters, one could be forgiven for keeping the TV’s switched off. After the recent flooding, he was seen to hurry to Bunnings to buy wooden beams, some tubes of strong adhesives and bitumen paint. Bunnings of course, is a large hardware chain which sell dreams for the handy-man and home DIY…(Do-It-Yourself). They are huge. In a clever move to involve both men, and women, Bunnings introduced classes in general homecare, such as minor carpentry, basic plumbing, clearing drains, and tool handling for women. Last year the classes were combined with line dancing. It included face painting for the kids, and on Saturday they have Lions Club volunteers raising funds by selling Barbequed sausages, and onions on sliced white bread, with a variety of sauces. The kids and husbands love it. Bunnings is to hardware what Aldi is to food.

He had felt it his duty to try and prevent future water inundation, even without wearing pyjamas. After measuring the distance of the required levy he lowered the back-seat down in the car. He only recently discovered this possibility. It doubled the capacity to carry wooden beams to almost twice the lengths. He finally also read in the car manual that the reason his car did not carry a spare wheel in the back, was that one could drive with flat tyres. He had given up reading the car manual. He kept falling asleep. Instead read yet another Mankell thriller. Apart from some Ruth Rendell books, he never was much into crime books…

His recent book marketing and selling of his own book had come to a bit of a hiatus, and the recent threat of minor flooding was just the ticket to lift him out of his beloved tendency to nurture gloomy feelings. Something that he tended to do anyway without any outside encouragement. He had often told himself that his efforts to publish his memoirs was for the family to deal with in case he went missing in action, or had carked it. Not an unreasonable assumption, seeing he was nudging seventy six years in total so far. He was previously given to pondering he would like to leave something a bit more substantial than just his faded Municipal Rate notices or his record of Dutch and Australian pension entitlements.

Almost There

He found himself humming ‘when the Saints come marching in’ while driving home with the necessary wooden beams poking against the back of the front seat. A box of liquid nails adhesive was secure on the passengers seat. He was going to glue the beams outside near his garage door to form a barrier, and prevent future flooding. He had written a stern note to the Strata Body Corporate but the courtesy of an acknowledgement was yet to be given. He did not really want to rely on the blocked stormwater drain to be fixed. Even so, he did notice a remote camera for sale at Aldi’s with the necessary cables and manual. The camera would come in handy to send it into hard to reach areas to investigate any problems. It is amazing how technology outpaces the elderly now. No doubt the camera could be sent into the drain and transmit in detail any blockage. Something to ponder about for the future.

After arriving home and unpacking the beams he got stuck into the job at hand.

His wife noticed he was very cheerful.

Sand-bagging for Seniors facing Climate Change

June 9, 2016
Snr Oosterman sand-bagging

Snr Oosterman sand-bagging

The rain came as predicted. It is amazing how the prophesy of weather has become so accurate. The art by holding up the index finger to guess future weather patterns has vanished, and has been replaced by satellite and bearded scientists peering at screens while sipping coffee out of a take away carton. We hear about El Nina and El Nino which I always get mixed up. In any case, climate change has thrown a spanner in weather forecasting.

We thought living about six hundred metres above sea-level would be safe. But this low pressure system was as predicted ‘a monster storm’. Warnings were flashed on our TVs to stay indoors and bunker down. The timing of this low moving south were precise to the hour. We stayed up and watched the sky turn an ashen grey. It started a bit light with the wind picking up. The northern part of Australia copped it first and footage was shown of palms and people bending in the wind. Umbrellas were turned-inside out, always a favourite by weather journalists who keep inside-out umbrellas in their cupboards together with sad looking teddy bears as props for future use.

We, by the time the monster storm reached our region, were dressed in our pyjamas and felt safe. We had some previous minor flooding in the garage but addressed it by building a concrete levy between a property higher up from us. It worked perfectly by diverting water to the road instead of our garden and garage. The Dutch always had a thing about staying above water, no matter what. The rain intensified and was lashing our area as never experienced before. The wind was howling, and was clearly out for revenge.

However, reports now came in of fatalities and angry rescue teams that people were still foolishly driving through rising water levies. It was now getting light and without having slept and still in pyjamas noticed the garage had flooded again. The water entered from the street which had become a raging river. Helvi took a measuring tape from her sewing basket and measured the depth of water in the garage. It was three centimetres. Our living quarters next to the garage is about fifteen centimetres above the garage floor.

Gerard was seen, heroically stepping to the fore, carrying sandbags in an effort to divert the flood to the stormwater drain in the middle of the road about six metres from our front door. He was in his pyjamas and it was so cold. Never mind, you do anything to prevent water entering your living-room and wet the Turkish carpet. Milo was nervous as well but cunningly stayed indoors. He, in the meantime noticed the storm water drain had had enough and could take no more. Helvi again went to the garage and measured the depth of the flooding. It was now six centimetres. She shouted out to him; ‘it is now six centimetres.’

He was still (heroically) battling the storm-water drain. He surrendered. It was beyond reason no matter how he cursed and swore. The rain was now a solid waterfall. ‘It is eight centimetres,’ she shouted anxiously. He went inside, worse for wear, as the cliché demanded, very wet, cold, and his partials-teeth rattling. He, in a mighty last effort carried sodden bags to the front door. The water was three centimetres from entering our living quarters.

We were amazed seeing footage of properties tumbling into the sea. One property even lost an entire swimming pool. We wondered why, when living so close to the water, a swimming pool was put in. Did they not know the sea-water was just metres away?

Bowral Ducks

Bowral Ducks

We were so close to getting water inside. One man here in Bowral drowned inside his car being swept away by rising water in the creek that flow behind our property. The same shallow murmuring creek that we almost daily take Milo to.

The ducks were none the worse for wear.

My book is for sale; ‘Almost There,’ by Gerard Oosterman. ( Amazon, Lulu and other outlets.)