Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

The Frugals have gone.

April 18, 2018

Image result for Early wooden barrel Westinghouse washing machines

Our washing machine in Australia.

 

Do people still know anyone who is frugal? History tells us that in the past it was normal to be frugal. The Frugals wore clothes till they worn out and kept the best for church or funerals. They darned socks. Does anyone still darn today? A needle with woollen thread was used till the hole went. You don’t throw stuff away because it has a hole, or because it becomes unfashionable. The frugal gene in Australia really became embedded after WW 1 followed by the great depression of the late twenties/ thirties. Generations of frugals would switch off lights not because of saving the environment or global heating but because it saved money. The best way to survive was to become a frugal.

The period during and after WW1 meant the decimation of many Australian males which left an almost doubling of young females keen to find husbands. However, to add to the misery of male shortages it was also rare for females to work, and earn an income. Females just did not work on payable jobs but slogged away at home on the scrubbing board and darning socks.  I know this because that’s what was done in my family, although we, even while still in Holland, managed to have an electric washing machine; an early Westinghouse. That was in the early fifties, when economies started to grow and blossom, making people better off. This electric monster of a washing machine with its oak steel-hooped drum was shipped over to Australia after Mum and Dad decided to migrate there. It was admired in the whole street and worked ceaselessly for many years. It was another proof of sensibility and ardent frugality.

It was perhaps the Korean war and after the Vietnam war that the frugals were starting to loose their grip on domestic frugality. The expenditure on useless consumer gadgets started to raise its ugly head. This was followed by ‘easy terms’. Everything was obtainable through easy terms. It thoroughly corrupted my Mum who foolishly bought a Sunbeam electric frying pan on ‘easy terms.’ Dad followed with buying a B/W TV for an enormous amount of money to be paid over three years. Can you believe it?

Even so, frugality somehow survived. It was the hippy movement with Hair that desperately tried to hang on sensible frugal living with the urge to resist mindless consumerism, but that was overcome by Governments and the invention of huge public hoardings, urging us to buy Instant Coffee with 43 beans or Lovable Bras that could ‘lift and separate’,  nurturing spending, and corrupting us in the belief that the endless buying of things just for the sake of buying was good enough and gave lots of Happy to the chagrined.

All this of course is what happens today. During the previous epoch of frugality, houses, kitchen and bathrooms were not seen as items to be updated. Appliances would last forever. Now, the last of the Frugals, look on in amazement, and disbelief  how the baby boomers hurl themselves into four wheel drives and build monster MacMansions. Do they really come from the same gene pool. How did this happen?

The surplus of women after WW1 meant that those that missed out snaring a hubby, started the frugal movement with many sharing meagre incomes and bitter loneliness by living together, mostly in a non-sexual way.

However, as always the pendulum swung the other way with the arrival of tens of thousands of single men enticed by gloriously coloured Australian Governmental advertisements to work the mines in Australia in the forties till the sixties. Many of those from Europe still enjoyed rock solid and well entrenched frugal genes instilled too by same wars and economic depressions. My parents,  even though Dad did not have blond or blue features nor single, did have a knack for the butter to be spread thinly and for his children to always switch off the lights leaving the room.  We worked ‘over-time’. Over-time paid ‘time and a half’, Sundays paid double. I liked working on Sundays. Mum would be most generous in her Papal dispensational discourse for us not having to go to the obligatory Sunday church and earn double instead. We saved to white knuckled bones and pooled our moneys. It was enough to get into our own home within two years. Proof of frugality that paid off.

There you have it. Since WW1 and within, at best three generations, frugality now has swung to rampant consumerism throwing all caution to the wind. To the present generation, darning socks and the Singer sewing machine, they are relics many would not know about, nor the delights of unknitting an old jumper and re-knitting the wool into a pair of slippers. All gone.

The young and good consumers complain how difficult it is to get into the housing market. Yet, they feel it a normal right not to go without what they regard as essential; the café breakfast with avocados, the overseas holiday, the latest Apple iPhone. I have yet to see a young girl on the train with threadbare jeans sewing them up or knitting.  Where are the young knitters to save for a house?

The last of the Frugals are now shuffling into retirement homes. Some brave souls you see driving around, all bald, knock kneed or grey, having hitched a caravan to the SUV, travelling around Australia, whooping it up, perhaps for their very first time.

I remain amazed.

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The age of grab-rails is nigh.

January 15, 2018

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Perhaps wooden handrails come in limited sizes. In our double story town-house the handrail leading to the upstairs part runs short at the very top of the stairs. It means that going down-stairs one had to lean forward to grab the handrail. A rather risky manoeuvre for those whose final celestial real estate deal is getting closer. It doesn’t help to hasten this by having risky handrails. We might as well sing it out as long as possible. The prospect of rolling down the stairs during a windy and dark nightly wandering, just did not appeal.

‘Why don’t you go to ‘Bunnings’ and see what you can rustle-up for a handrail, Gerard?’ Helvi said yesterday. For those that are unfamiliar with the concepts of ‘Bunnings’. They are a huge empire of giant hardware stores throughout Australia. It’s more a way of life than mere hardware. Whole families can easily spend a cosy Saturday inside those giant metallic halls. Bunnings are good at promoting themselves. They have special ‘ladies nights’, whereby the finer points of the latest of demolishing tools are explained to willing females. Giant wrenches and spanners are passed around and fingered lovingly, accompanied by videos showing women on how to beat a disobedient husband into submission to fix the leaking shower head or rotting fence post.

There are child-minding facilities, line-dancing competitions, coffee lounges and on most Saturdays they have charities raising funds for the local fire brigade by selling sausage rolls and soft drinks. All in all, a rather new concept of ‘everything for the home.’ Australia has always been rather fond of doing up homes, renovating or modernising and generally vying with each other to make sure that the ever avoiding and mysterious ‘life-style’ is maintained. Bunnings is the Aldi for the home-renovator.

I duly took myself off to a Bunnings not far from here. The staff are always welcoming and trained to be helpful. Generally, you go through mile after mile of isles filled to the roof with hardware. The isles are well organized and adequate signage show clearly the available products. I headed for the handrail section. I was hoping to find something similar in design to the existing handrail. I did not find this so decided to visit the bathroom handrail section. Of course with the ageing population now greater than the younger ones, handrails are a huge market. Have you noticed that more and more handrails are being installed in public places? Only yesterday, while bending to bowl I needed to visit the men’s convenience, and the chosen cubicle had a mouth watering arrangement of aids to hoist yourself up from the bowl. Amazingly, both the tap and soap holders were activated by merely approaching them by hand. No more touching required! A win for the medical world avoiding those dreadful flu infections. Did you know that the latest to do the rounds in Europe is called ‘The Australian Flu?’

I finally found a rather nifty piece of handrail. It is made from metal, white coloured, and came with screws. It can hold 110Kilos and guaranteed for five years. I am optimistic and hope it will hold for more than five years. Seeing I weigh a lot less than 110Kilos, I reckon it will see me out for much more than five years.

We shall see!

Go and figure this one out!

February 5, 2017

 

Most of the world knows about  refugees. Italy alone took in 180 000 during 2016. More than three years ago anyone trying to reach Australia by boat would from then on be locked up. Manus and Nauru were the places agreeing to house refugees. Australia vowed never to let those into Australia.There are  more than 1200 refugees still on those Islands. Most have been granted refugee status.

The cost in housing refugees has been in the billions. Private contractors are the main beneficiaries as well as New Guinea  and Nauru. The idea in not letting the refugees ever into Australia was that letting them in would result in an armada of refugees coming to Australia, clamber over our dunes, take our jobs or bludge of welfare! They would covet our  women and make cliterectomy compulsory for all.

The idea of locking the refugees up had to be seen as harsh enough to deter the so called ‘people smugglers.’ At present refugees trying to flee to either Europe or elsewhere in primitive boats have a chance of 1-100 in drowning. We know that many are desperate enough to take that gamble. The Australian Government knew that risk of drowning wasn’t enough a deterrent. The idea was born that the punishment for not drowning had to be far more severe. Teach the survivors a lesson they won’t forget. More importantly, the message would go out. “Don’t think of coming to Australia.”

That’s why the conditions for refugees locked up  indefinitely had to be far more stringent and better thought out. The refugees were not charged with any crimes. They just had to be kept locked and deprived of the most essential need of all. A future to look forward to. For children not to grow up in freedom and get an education. Teach them a lesson.  After several suicides and many incidents of self harm, even by children, the Government rejoiced and proudly stated that no boat had arrived. The prime minister Turnbull was jubilant; “We are the envy of the world dealing with refugees,.” he announced proudly.

It was decided that after the UNHCR, the UN, and Amnesty International had become vocal in condemnation that Australia tried to fop off the refugees elsewhere. Forty million dollars was spent to bribe Cambodia in taking just three refugees. Two have since left.

Now Trump and Turnbull ( Trumble) have locked themselves into horse -trading over allowing 1200 refugees from Manus and Nauru  into America. The vetting will be extreme. Americans are justly asking why Australia can’t take them in. It must be a mystery. Per capita Australia has far more space than the USA. So what about that deterrent?

If you dare to come to Australia you might go to America?

More importantly, what about those people? You know the people on Manus and Nauru?

Go and figure!

A perfect 4 minute egg while reading ‘Almost There.’

May 26, 2016

Almost There

‘So, how many eggs do you want me to prepare?’ ‘Make it two for me too,’ she said. These are some of those normal bits of morning conversations that must go on and echo around many towns and villages. ‘Don’t make them too runny,’ was followed up by, ‘I like to put some anchovies on top of the eggs on toast, and don’t want it to run off.’ The original order now came with distinct specifications.

Of course, it is never too late to learn. I recently read that eggs should never kept boiling. Instead, the advice of a world renowned egg expert (Mr Heinrich von Knopfelmacher) stated; bring the egg(s) to the boil and then switch the heat off, and leave in the hot water for just 4 minutes to give you the right viscosity for the perfect egg. The egg-fluid will then resist the tendency to flow or run!

Of course, a clear sign of ageing is someone sitting on a park bench, still talking animatedly to ducks, and desperate to remain a life’s enthusiast, while wearing remnants of a runny egg on his shirt, or worse, on his chin. A sad spectacle indeed. How can this joy the vivre of the aged be kept intact with visible eggs remnants on him?

Still, this morning a newsflash announced that the number of people over a hundred years old will tenfold in the near future. One can imagine the egg wearing to go through the roof as well. Unless of course, the 4 minute egg boiling skill will be taught to the young and become more and more important. The ducks will just go on as ever, they are not judgemental, and have never shown any criticism of humans wearing a little egg. It might well have something to do with ducks sitting on eggs.

It reminds me that my own mother always used to feed scraps to ducks. Even in her nineties she used to slowly walk to the local pond and throw the scraps. I did have to tell her not to feed the ducks the remnants of fried chicken. I mean, how would ducks feel being thrown the feathered expired AND eaten related brothers and sisters? I think she just shrugged this off. I remember her feeling sorry for a duck being stuck in ice during a very cold snap.

The good news keep on coming. Aldi in Australia decided to stop selling caged eggs. However, Australia still allows eggs to be called ‘free range’ when eggs are produced by allowing 10 000 chicken per hectare of open space. One square metre per chicken! It is still cruel. In Europe the minimum is a required 4 sq. metres per chicken. The National Australian Egg-board has the largest egg producers ruling the roost. Unbelievable!

Anyway, far more satisfaction can be obtained by reading a book while dipping your toast in a 4 minute egg. May I humbly ask you to buy my book, the paper-back version preferably. Overseas buyers, you can do so through the following.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.de/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.es/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.fr/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.it/dp/0994581033

I have now received the paper-back books of ‘Almost There,’ for direct distribution in Australia. Please contact me on;

oostermn@tpg.com.au

and for $17.- (including postage) you can be the proud owner of ‘Almost There.’ We are almost half way to Christmas and it would make a lovely present. A special two books for $ 30.-!
After contacting me, options for payment by cheque or direct deposit will be offered.
It would make for a happy man. A very happy man.
Many thanks for those that have bought my book already, also for the great reviews.

Enjoy your 4min.eggs.

The Japanese Windflower understands.

March 6, 2016
Japanese Windflower

Japanese Windflower

This picture explains it all. If the purpose of life is to worry about what has been or what is yet to come, contemplate this flower. It asks for nothing more than to be looked at or ignored (at own risk). The choice is up to the viewer.

This photo was taken with my old iPhone. I really liked the previous misty looking results of the photos till my grandson wiped the lens clean with his T-shirt. All done in one single swipe. Since then the images are clearer and more colourful.

Before I forget. Remember this governments promise to take in an extra 12000 refugees from those that followed the exodus out of Syria back in September 2015. So far, just 26 have arrived.

“Canada has resettled 800 times more Syrian refugees in three months than Australia has in almost twice the time, fuelling concern the delay is pushing desperate families in the Middle East into a perilous crossing to Europe.

Labor has called on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to explain why Australia has resettled just 26 Syrian refugees five months after former Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced an emergency intake of 12,000 “as quickly as possible”.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/canada-has-rescued-800-times-more-syrian-refugees-than-australia-figures-show-20160217-gmw7dz.html#ixzz424nz9Uld

Actually, The Japanese windflower does take an exception by not understanding Australia’s stance on refugees.

We will again now take Milo on his walk and try come to grips with this latest. We are having  gloriously warm weather, two weeks in a row now, with the promise of another warm week to come. I see people carrying air conditioning units to their cars. The elderly are advised to not forget to drink lots of water and to take it easy.

‘Take it easy.’  This is what my father was told repeatedly back in 1956. Take it easy, Mr Oosterman. Don’t muck it up for us. They meant, that working hard would also then be required for those that did not pull their weight. Not pulling their weight was hugely popular in Australia during those earlier times. It was almost an entitlement that needed to be protected by all means. The balance between workers and bosses was a fine line, well understood. A kind of understanding that no strike would be undertaken if the workers were given leeway in getting paid for a fair day’s work, but not too hard. ‘Taking it easy,’ was understood by both. Funny that. A fair day’s work included plenty of smokos and generous breaks. Double time for Sundays and Saturday afternoons with the mornings time and a half.

It had more than a kernel of truth. Now ‘hard work’ has become the norm. Working days are getting longer and absent parents through work is normal. Kids come home with the key to the front door under the mat. Many mums and dads working, scratching enough to pay the mortgage and put food on the table.  Glass ceilings are crashing down. People look pale and hurried scurrying past each other. Shopping in a hurry. Cars screeching around the corner. Not giving way. Only the retired calm and serene. Feeding the ducks and wondering about the beauty and understanding of the Japanese wind flower with a Milo sleeping.

Taking it easy, lost and gone.

 

This business of earning Money. ( Auto-biography)

June 29, 2015

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While the stay at the chalet high-up at Bressanone was a ‘life changing event’ ( as modern parlance would have it), the question soon arose on how to go forward. While many would agree on ‘money doesn’t make happiness,  ‘happiness doesn’t make money either.’  Money still needs to be available when buying the corn-flakes or onions and paying bills.

The big question was that while a career, wearing a suit or doctor’s coat, wasn’t anymore on my horizon  how on earth would I survive? Bernard had been working as a tourist guide and with his knowledge of languages it was a fairly easy and well paid job. He suggested that I do the same. I wasn’t sure I was cut out or possessed the jovial countenance or enough savoir faire,  to fulfil the expectations of tourists that had been primed by travel agents to experience Italy in a 6hour discounted bus-trip through Tuscany and back to Pompeii!

In Australia I had experienced a long list of many jobs and also done a certificate course in quantity surveying. To this day I don’t know why I did it,  but perhaps it had something to do with my ‘suit wearing’ ambition period. I would imagine sitting in an office, conversing with Moroccan architects and quantity surveyors offering expert advice on how to get through the tricky bits of attracting quotes for all the different trades, while rocking on my  Finnish Alvar Aalto pressed ply-wood chair. I had already worked on building sites including working outside buildings from swinging stages. I had also, together with Bernard, worked for painting contractors and  prior to that, apprenticed for a while in that trade.

In the meantime I decided to return to my family in Australia. So did Bernard who suggested we set up a business with buff coloured letter-heads and matching envelopes. We both booked a boat from Naples through Thomas Cook travel agents. I remember a Mr Diacomo in Sydney who had arranged my travel to Europe before, but Thomas Cook in Naples was a different animal. Not once did we get an acknowledgement of our requests for a booking to Australia. While Bernard decided to go to Naples to sort out our fares, I decided to stay on in the chalet and wait for confirmation of the date that we would sail from Naples to Sydney.

When the travel confirmation finally arrived I decided to try and catch a lift to Naples. On the first hour of my effort to catch a lift the rubber band through the sole of my thongs and held between my toes snapped. Even despite that, or because of my limping on one thong, I managed to get a lift half way and caught the train for the remaining distance. Travelling by train in Europe is always fascinating. At most stations in Italy, someone would be walking alongside the train and for a few hundred lire one could get a hot chicken with crispy bread roll and small bottle of red wine. Absolutely fantastic and complete strangers would offer bits of their food as well. It was a cultural eye opener how in Italy food is shared no matter where or how. One Italian man got up when I arrived in Naples and even adjusted my tie. I could not imagine on the Bowral – Sydney train journey someone adjusting my tie even if I was wearing one. The police would probably make an arrest!

The arrival in Naples was as busy and hectic as Bressanone in Tirol was quiet and serene. An amazing rail station and amazing city. Bernard had a hotel room at Piazza Garibaldi right opposite the rail station. It was a very busy part of Naples with coffee sipping, loud talk and lively arguments on the footpaths day and night. The noise level of Naples alone makes it a wonderful and lively city. How a noisy city vibrates and excites!  We had just enough money left to see us through the five weeks on-board, a car on arrival in Sydney for our planned contracting business, and the printing of the buff coloured letterheads with ‘Head-Office’ at my parents place in Revesby.

The trip on board was of course taken up with chess while Bernard also met a French woman who took a fancy to him even though her husband was right besides her. She had a very large pony-tail and she played footsy with Bernard while playing bridge. It came to a disastrous head some months later when she decided to cut of this large pony tail and posted it to Bernard as a sign of her profound love and devotion. But as most ship romances flounder on the rocks of on-shore reality, so did this one. She and husband were living in Brisbane and Bernard in Sydney. We had sat up a good business and were getting reasonable contracts painting blocks of home-units. Sydney was in the middle of a home-unit boom and we caught its head-wind with acute shortages of workers needed to fulfil housing needs.

The French girl in Brisbane could not contain her love for Bernard and decided to visit him in Sydney (without her pony tail). My friend took the day off and at the end it was all over. It had run its course. She went back to husband and presumably grew a new ponytail.

Who knows?

Vic’s Cabaret and first Date.

May 26, 2015
Milo in deep thought.

Milo in deep thought.

With the Phyllis Bates ‘academy’ dance lessons firmly tucked under my arms I  was ready and willing to go and practise for the first time my  dancing without the pre-painted dance-steps on a floor.   An Austrian Waltz was the last one I was taught. At one stage I came close to losing the book held between us.  I had to place my leg (just one) between both the lovely teacher’s  legs and do a majestic sweep of one hundred eighty degree turn while holding my chin proudly  upwards and sideways. I had at the same time hold both my right arm  and her left arm stretching out towards Central Railway. I did not want to  press, or move anything inappropriately while in that delicate but intimate position. I feared that some excitement might finally show but with my Reuben Scarf suit and generously billowing trousers I was somewhat reassured that nothing would betray even this possibility. In any case my concentration was focussed on the firm pushing Of Human Bondage book held between us.

I was informed about a dance club on Parramatta Rd near Sydney’s Strathfield. Readers might remember the salesman that sold me the Ford V8 also came from that area. He might well turn up at the same place. The place was called Vic’s Cabaret but like the word ‘academy’ it was another case of the  misuse of words  imbued with more than what was actually there. I remember being fascinated by ‘Palm Beach’ when still back in Holland before the migration episode. The map of Sydney had ‘Palm Beach’ on it.  I used to lay in bed conjuring up waving palm trees and could not wait to see those. It was  a B/W news-reel back in the winter cold of The Hague with natives on tropical islands sipping cool drinks from coconuts underneath beckoning palm trees. After migration I went to Palm Beach on my scooter. Not a single palm tree in sight! Now, I always thought that cabaret was a bit more than a place to dance in even if it included a small band.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-10-22/32400

Still, Vic’s Cabaret in Strathfield even without it being a true cabaret in a more European sense, was still a good place to start finding a date. Lots of nice girls would be there and it just needed a positive attitude and some extra brylcreme. Having straight hair did not have at that time the same allure as having a bit of a wave. The TV series Seventy Seven Sunset Strip was responsible for millions of young men imitating the forever hair combing hair-wave owning wisecracking rock and roll Kookie character. I tried to get this  wave and with enough Brilliantine hope I would also share in the glory of this popular character. Not unlike today with so many young men wanting to be a Bieber clone (or Russell Crowe for the more mature).

The Vic’s cabaret was a short drive from home and after a good wash and polish of the V8 I was ready and took off. I managed to park within a reasonable distance and took good note of where I parked. Most streets looked alike but it helped if one took notice of an unusual feature of where one parked. I took a mental note that the garden next to my car had old white painted rubber tyres around some azaleas. The old tyres were a feature of those times and also kept the weeds out. It was considered a very handy place to put old tyres and often this hint was given in the Garden magazine.  It was one of dad’s pet hatreds together with the habits of many elderly ladies painting the hair blue or a bright pink. “I saw a lady in the bus today who had pink hair.  ” A famous sentence of my dad still doing the rounds at Christmas time amongst the Oostermans. Dad had great difficulty with adjusting to some  odd or strange habits differing from some equally strange habits in his own country. I mean, riding bicycles while wearing a suit, or dipping a raw herring in onions and eating it in full view of pedestrians? All the windows open in full sight of a family eating their dinner?

How strange is that?

Western Polo-necked Youth drawn (radicalised) to Isis.

October 1, 2014

untitledvoodoo

The local youth don’t know what they are missing out on. What’s the golden syrup that draws the future jihadists away from our lovely, caring and all inclusive culture? Of the estimated 30000 Isis army about a thousand or more are alleged to have come from Western countries. The videos and the beheadings in Syria are supposed to have been done by someone with an English accent. Perhaps even an English national. Claims were made that the identity of him is known. Many countries are scrambling their fighter jets. We are daily shown TV images of pin point accurate bombs honing in on enemy targets with plumes of black smoke radiating dangerously close towards us on the comfy couch, accompanied by a shot of a pulverised, disintegrating enemy(real people).We almost end up clapping or at least hope for an encore.

If those figures are correct, it means about 10% of all the Isis forces are from Europe, America and Australia. That sad video made by a woman undercover in Syria, of a French youth on the phone to his crying mum back home in France, telling her that he wants to stay in Syria and fight. “I am not coming home”, he said

The reason given is that of being ‘radicalised’. The young people are being radicalised! It almost sounds as if there is some Voodoo going on. You know, feathers and chicken heads besmirched with demonic dancing around funereal fires. There must be hypnotic Isis practitioners out in the suburbs casting strange spells on our youth. Oh, that’s the explanation! Yes, we see now. Yes, that’s why! Nothing more? Is that all there is to it? The magic of radicalisation? How simplistic, but that word is being used to explain the hard to swallow fact that many of our young feel attracted away from our much revered system of consumerism and capitalism. How can that be?. Let’s cancel their passports; teach them a lesson.

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/09/dutch_cancel_49_jihadist_passp.php

Isn’t that a bit easy? Surely there must be better explanations offering more thought out and credible reasons why so many are drawn to fight in far away sandy and risky countries. I don’t know either but I am now old and often in repose mood, not yet listless. I well remember, as if yesterday, not being like that. My main aim in life was always to savour the new and skirt and flirt the adventurous, avoid the staid cemented-in, like the plague. I have been reasonably successful in that and wasn’t ever tempted to become a lawyer, a quantity surveyor or actuarial expert with a sound grounding in so much nothingness. Not the stooped-over office chair for me. I too might have been tempted to join an Isis!

I do remember the opposition to the Vietnam war. Young boy-like soldiers laughingly saying goodbye to wives, mothers, girlfriends. Many never to return but in bitter graves under moonless skies. There were escapes for youth then, with protests by students, energetic rock throwing by their professors. America and its allies capitulated. The war lost.

But now, nothing but a numb acceptance of everything that is imposed, unquestioningly and obediently. Dreadful things happening under the guise of ‘humanitarian concerns.’ The killing fields of our detention camps. The 15% unemployment rates of the young. It must be having an effect on our youths. Is despair rampant?

Perhaps this disillusion felt by youth has spread to the Western world as a whole. Has capitalism and consumerism run its course?

Don’t we give back what is given to us?

Is that perhaps one reason for some of the youth to be attracted to Isis.

Is that the radicalisation? I don’t know.

What do you think?

Love lost.

July 23, 2014
Lost love

Lost love

“I am so sorry to hear about your loss, Bettina”. “Ah, don’t be.” “Thank God he is gone, the miserable man”. And with that, the Bettina with the massive battle ship chin dismissed the passing of her husband of over forty years. Sometimes, people hide their grief with putting up a brave front. I don’t think she was in that category, having known both of them for over twenty years.

Sometime during the seventies both Bettina and husband Bob in their wild and impetuous youth travelled Europe in a left hand drive large bus converted to a camper wagon. You now see them everywhere, sometimes with bicycles or even a boat strapped at the back or on the roof. I saw a camper wagon recently that even towed a small car to buzz about in. And no doubt used, through the help of a GPS satellite system, to guide the happy travellers to the nearest Aldi or Woolworth emporium, to stock up on the essentials, including butter and lamb chops with continental parsley.

Bettina and husband Bob, (while in their youth) travelled overland back to Australia where they lived in a large house near the water. It must have been quite an adventure when Afghanistan and Burma were hardly on the well trodden traveller’s route. You would often see Bob and wife with their large grey converted left hand drive vehicle driving around the place with Bob never missing a friendly wave.

He used to regale their travel adventures to us but his Bettina would butt in ‘ oh, nonsense Bob, it wasn’t like that’ and than impose her version of it. He just used to smile and let her do the talking. He did love her, or at least allowed her the freedom to dominate him in conversations.

While on their return journey, they had filled their bus up with Afghan tapestries and carpets which they sold to anyone keen on a bargain. It were the days of so many young couples with children setting up camp in the inner city of Sydney. A true beginning of city living instead of the mind boggling boring but well promoted ‘dream’ of living in the suburbs.

As the years went by, as they seem to so relentlessly, Bob became profoundly deaf and conversations became stilted and awry. A great pity. He was always the friendly giving man and his wife the shouting over the top with such a large chin to accept (in a round-a-bout way). In any case, a long standing marriage were both no doubt had found their levels of comfort and acceptance of each other. True love?

I sometimes thought of Bob waking up and turning towards his Bettina and see the familiar large chin jutting above the sheets. He loved her, that’s for sure, and accepted her as lovingly as any caring husband would. Millions of couple all over the world do this. Hundreds of millions more likely.

And then, Bob died suddenly. Towards the last few years he had a long white beard and often stood silently next to his beloved Bettina. He was now as deaf as a bucket of sand and could not converse as before even though he would sometimes still break out and, while still smiling, mention bits about Afghanistan. Bettina now mostly had the full attention of the audience.

“Thank God he is gone” is what she said. (after forty years)

The black pudding festival of my Youth

June 5, 2013

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If ever there were scents of lingering on in old age, nothing in my memory lingers more than the aroma of my mother’s fried up black pudding on a cold winter’s night. It seems as if from yesterday.  Before I wax on any further about the delights of this fare, let me give a short definition of what this delicacy entails.

It is a kind of robust fare made from a mixture of herbs and spices, including cloves, pepper, salt , bay leaf or more, mixed with pig’s fat and…its main ingredient…blood. I sometimes wonder if, in the mythological tales of those vampires busy with bloodletting back in 1734 Romania, the basic recipe of black pudding was not born.

In any case, we are lucky that the recipe has survived, irrespective of fangs stuck in someone’s main throat artery or not. We all make the best of life, and vampires did not ask to be born with that addiction. Drinking fresh blood was the quintessential ingredient and affliction of Dracula as well.  Just imagine a world without Dracula? Well, actually, I can. I never felt the slightest interest in Vampires sucking blood, being more of a blood giver.

Anyway, I am off subject.

Oh yes, those scents of yesteryears. How come roses smelt stronger? One just brushed past a tomato on its truss and one almost passed out with its fragrance. This seems to have disappeared. Are scientists developing faster growing bigger produce and sacrificing scents or are my smelling patches going downhill? Our olfactory skills are pretty feeble compared for instance with a bloodhound but we are all born with between 3 or 4 million smelling receptors. The blood hound has 220 million give or take a few million.

We taste food with our nose more than by mouth as our mouth is only capable with tasting sour, sweet, salt and bitter. The rest of taste is done by our olfactory receptors high up our nose. Perhaps that’s why our nose is above our mouth, seeing that smells go upwards!

It seems unfair that women outdo men in the smell department as well as in the shopping department. Does that explain men can’t get away with leaving the shower till next week or wearing day socks to bed? I always counter complaints about my smells to H with ‘that just born babies have shown to prefer the unwashed breast to the freshly soaped one.’ I further enhance the well known proven theory, that humans find their mate through smelling each other’s arm pits’ pheromones and that the daily shower is now seen by many ‘experts’ as being the final death-knell in many a marriage. She, very sadly, doesn’t accept that and sniffs disapprovingly and (cruelly) turns her back.

The black pudding scent was brutally brought back yesterday when doing our shopping at Aldi’s supermarket. I like to linger at the butter-cheese and small-goods division while H takes the opportunity to, very casually, saunter around and inspect sheets, pillow slips, toothpaste or brush-ware, deodorants isles. As my gaze left the Stilton cheese the unsalted butter and moved slowly upwards, what did I spot next to the buttermilk and bacon; ‘black pudding’ in all its glorious white speckled with fat and dark blood- brown luster. I nearly cried with the memory of it all flooding back. My nostrils were in overtime, quivering like a fierce bloodhound in the snow just metres away from his rabbit.

Aldi is a very German-Euro slanted shopping phenomenon specializing in foods and goods that migrants from Europe sink to their knees before bedtime and pray to be able to buy again.  Black pudding has always been high on my list but I stop short on offering prayer.

This morning, at the crack of dawn at around 5.30 am I was up frying black pudding while making our first coffee.  It was early for H’s coffee, but what the hell; I had showered the night before. As I opened the door to pass H her coffee, she very sleepily said; “what is that strange smell?” “Its freshly brewed coffee darling”, I said. “No, it smells dark and brooding”, H answered with a puckered nose. “Oh, I said,” feigning ignorance, “could it be the cloves in the black pudding. Would you like a slice?”

Helvi does not like black pudding. I gave her slice to our Jack Russell ‘Milo.’