Posts Tagged ‘Gerard Oosterman’

Doing a ‘Proust.’

October 2, 2017

new cover 1704 front big Book cover 18april

I can’t say I was ever spell-bound reading the works of Marcel Proust. This has more to do with my own preferences or lack of them, than Proust. Perhaps I should have another go at coming to grips with his words. One of the disadvantages of not having had the benefits of a university education which perhaps stilted or delayed my literary knowledge. Who knows? It did not stifle my curiosity.

André Gide was another one of those philosophical writers I read and struggled with. He featured during Proust’s time and was highly regarded by him. If there is a writer that I keenly read at earlier times it is Albert Camus. I could not get enough of his books and the magic of his writing still lives on in my mind. What a pity he died riding a motorbike.

Apparently, Proust’s voluminous works were avoided by most during his life, and he is now known for having written his own critiques. The worlds most prestigious Newspapers were full of his own written lofty praise. He shamelessly wrote them and paid the Newspapers handsomely for their troubles. The publishers avoided his work as unintelligible babble but this too was overcome by Proust by paying for the publishing the books himself. He came from a wealthy family but was plagued by asthma and lung problems right from birth which killed him still comparatively young at fifty one years of age.

We are fortunate that Proust had the money to pay and get at least good self-written reviews and self publish his work. I believe his brother after his death also helped to get his large volume of work published. He sure had the mettle to keep going even with the state of precarious health and times of hospitalisation.

Of course, and I don’t even pretend to stand within cooee of Proust’s literary calibre,  but at least my own adventures in self publication and self promotion of my two books, do in a rather modest way, copy that of Proust. It was the main reason what attracted me to this article by the Guardian which was pointed out by a tweet from Roderick Hart.

It is now more the norm than not, to self-publish and at no time have there been so many writers getting to see their work in print. However, to get the books sold and on bookshelves is another matter. One has to enjoy writing as the main and perhaps only reason and hope that somehow the work will stand the test of time. If not, no sour grapes and somewhat futile to worry about. With one’s birth comes a guarantee of mortality. In between that, it is just marvellous to be able to enjoy putting things down either in words or by painting, sculpting or whatever else that gives vent to creativity.

I was overjoyed by the state of NSW Library and also the Federal Library in Canberra requesting my books to be included in their vast arsenal of literature. Who could have hoped for that to happen? It will be there permanently after I have gone. How good is that?

In the future I imagine someone with perhaps the same habit I had many years ago by running my hand over the rows of books resting on the shelves at Sydney library. I always picked the dustiest book. They were always books worthy of reading. I loved that habit.  Could my books end up with someone doing the same and get picked by a reader? It could happen, just imagine.

The conversion to ePub plus MOBI.

April 13, 2016

‘Tantalising close,’ would be an understatement. ‘What price would you like to sell your eBook for, Gerard?’ Can you believe it? Yet, this was the question put yesterday while filling in a form to convert the book ‘Almost There,’ to a format called ePub plus MOBI all done by the Australia Society for Authors. It hit like a bolt from the sky. But that wasn’t all. Try and understand how it felt when reading on the same form; ‘Please provide details of the bank account into which your sales revenue should be paid.’ Your name of account, the BSB number and account number. ‘Your sales revenue?’ Joy, oh joy!

I could hardly believe it and neither did Milo. Out of the goodness of my heart, I gave him not one but two raw chicken necks. He looked perplexed but did not muck about, burying one neck for later consumption. He is prudent when it comes to his food larder. Only yesterday, while digging at the front garden I uncovered one of his beloved pig’s ears. He was watching me. I left it near where I found it and after leaving the garden I observed him re-burying it again. I suppose, it had not quite reached the level of dead carcass decay that Milo likes when consuming a pig’s ear. It explains where that broodingly dark smell comes from when Milo is sitting between us on the console of our car just inches away from our own faces.

We are al prepared and ready for the onslaught. The grandkids are coming over. The school holidays are on again. We have stocked up on half a litre of cod-liver oil and promised if they behave they will get a nice treat. Last time, just a few weeks ago at Easter, they managed to use up our monthly allocated Telstra data in just two days. We only ever use up about 1/10th of our monthly data. Just imagine how quick kids can rack up bills for their parents? In our days we would be lucky to get a spoonful of cod-liver oil for our birthdays. Or, when times were really good, get a pair of hand-knitted grey coloured socks. By the way, cod liver oil as sold in the past in liquid form is now mainly dispensed in very silly and expensive little gelatine sugar coated capsules. However, Price-Wise chemists still sells this wonderful golden nectar in its full liquid form. So, rip into it while it still lasts.

The latest controversy about the effects on health by eating sugar might well bring the liver oil back into vogue. I can see people crossing the street, slurping it up. Cafés will be selling it as ‘liver oil latte.’ And liver pizzas. The return of slim people

Anyway, the book is ‘Almost There.’

The Annual report from Word Press.

December 29, 2015

Funghi and Thunderstorms

April 10, 2010

By gerard oosterman

Finally, the ideas of returning to Australia had been bedded down in my mind but had to be put into action so we decided to contact Thomas Cook in Rome in order to book return tickets by boat. I think it was going to be the Flotta Lauro’s sister ship, the Roma.  We wrote a few times, but true to Italian tradition at the time, our letters were not replied to or acknowledged. By that time summer had reached its peak and August had announced itself. The thunderstorms were increasing in intensity and at time there were electrical black-outs as well. In the meantime the news from Holland included that my ex chess-master uncle had died  suddenly, and that my aunt was coming over to stay in our part of Italy together with a far away distant niece or cousin. They had managed to get accommodation in a large farm house or ‘gasthof’ within walking distance of our chalet.

 It seems that for poor uncle, neither the chilli sambal nor the speculaas biscuit were of any help, death stalked him mercilessly, without anyone even having the generosity of giving a dying man a chess game win. I wondered if he kept blaming his ex-wife until the very end.

One afternoon, we decided to follow Frau Johnson’s advice and look for mushrooms. The mushroom season apparently had arrived and none too soon. The pancakes cooked on lard with the occasional diversion into boiled potatoes with some mince patties was getting to me. Bernard was somewhat indifferent towards mushrooms. I loved them, especially the kind that was growing wild in that part of the mountains. They were Funghi Canterelli; you know those mushrooms, they were yellow ochre coloured and had serrated edges with a rather tall and thin stem. With garlic and Italian tomatoes they would be perfect at any time.

 We climbed up the mountain behind the chalet and soon found buckets of them growing like confetti underneath the umbrella of birch and pine trees. It was a hike up that was tiring and exhilarating at the same time. We came home just before another thunder storm. The flies were in frenzy, banging head long into the glass windows and spinning wildly on the floor in their suicidal death throes. The storm was the most spectacular I had ever experienced. Wild flashings of lightning below us but above the now obscured village with the mountains rumbling in support of nature’s whims. Next day we ate some of the mushrooms in a spicy soup and I decided to dry the rest on newspapers outside in the sun.

Cupcakes no More, just Celery Sticks

April 2, 2010

Cup cakes no more.

Has anyone noticed the campaign to reduce the risk of getting sun cancer? There they are, plastered all over fashionable shopping emporiums. Large multicoloured posters showing in gruesome detail stitches and staples on bodies where the melanomas have been cut out during the patient’s history of outdoor activities. First melanoma excised as a result of outdoor tennis, the 2nd four years later, from surfing, 3d from sunbaking, solariums etc. The message is clear. Stay out of the sun and cover up.

The beauty of the campaign is that staying out of the sun can’t be costly or interfere with market forces too much. Ok, perhaps the coconut oil sprayers or ice cream vendors might take home a bit less. Perhaps even swimsuit sellers could suffer. On the other hand, more cover-up items could be sold balancing the loss in swimwear. All in all, a win win for the melanoma fighters and the government is seen to do something for the health of the nation.

I am not sure how the health cost of saving on melanomas compare with saving on the cost of obesity but I reckon that obesity probably outdoes costs of lying in the sun! Has anyone yet seen any posters fighting obesity festooning any of the Shopping Malls columns? I can understand the previous Government poltroonery on obesity or any health concern with Tony Abbott at the helm of health.  Hell, anyone can climb on a bike or frolic in the surf as he shows consistently.

Market forces are always king under Liberal Leadership and not even mass hospitalisation or dying of obesity would stir them in tackling it. After all, in a world economic down-turn we have to be careful not to be seen as obstructing anything to do with money making. Do we?  Nothing must stir up the dust in the face of profit and free choice, must it?

We know that obesity is going to cost enormously and not just in lives. So, why the deafening silence coming from the present Government? Do the commercial advantages still outweigh the human cost in trying to do something about obesity?  I would have thought that the labour Government would have started rigorous campaigns promoting health and good nutrition. We know that leaving it to parents to foster dietary habits in our kids doesn’t work. To break the cycle, we need education of the young first.

The adults that are indifferent to their weight and ignore the warnings are likely to cark it well before their time. We also know that Ambulances, Airlines and even Funeral Parlours are coping with bodies that are becoming bigger and bulkier. Special hoists in Ambulances, Airlines toying with air travel prices per kilo. Funerals having to cope with bigger caskets, taking 6 to 8 pall bearers instead of just 4. Graves are dug deeper, wider and Sydney’s cemeteries running out of space, contemplating burying bodies under footpaths and roadways.  In short, a total calamity.

We have the honour of being the biggest in the world. Go around shopping centres and just take a seat and watch shoppers go by. Forget about the adults, just look at the kids. Some at eight or ten years, already with their lower legs splayed apart and thighs rubbing together, hardly able to walk, tummies hanging out and over, but invariably licking or sucking on something. 

Some claim it has as much to do with genetics as with bad diets but where were those genes fifty or sixty years ago? Are there a new set of obesity genes suddenly sprouting up? I don’t think so.

In the US, a voluntary set of nutritional standards on food was put into place together with information for shoppers to help make up their minds. It looked good but did not work. Which stressed mother has the time to read about kilo-joules or carbon hydrates on every item? Of course, when the setting of standards was left to those that profit from killer food items, it did not take long when Frooty Loops were found to be on the list of ‘high nutritional value’. It all came to nothing.

If signage with” SMOKING KILLS” are featured everywhere now, why not also have large signs with pointing out unhealthy food and dietary habits. “TRANS FAT KILLS” posters will have to be followed with diet experts at cash registers. Graphic posters with huge bodies being hoisted out of multi story buildings. TV footage of sobbing parents who are visiting their diabetic type 2 children in hospitals, waiting for organ transplants.  Australia did extremely well with anti-smoking and the ’cover-up’ campaign, even the anti-litter was until recently doing very well. Should we follow some European countries and provide at least one decent meal to all school children?

We now come to one of the most difficult parts of good nutrition for children and that is the behaviour at ‘tuck shops’. Those mothers running school and sporting tuck shops are a force to reckon with, but those purveyors of sausage rolls and sugary slushies will have to be tackled if the Government is going to get serious about our health. Fancy giving a sign of approval to schools and for sporting events with tuck shops selling bad food?

In October 2009, a group was put together by the federal Government including, wait for it, “Woolworth” and “The Australian Food and Grocery Council”. The aim was to try and increase the intake of fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods and decrease or reduce consumption of harmful fats.

I have yet to see baskets of fruit and vegetables at the cash registers replacing the hugely profitable but pernicious Violent Crunchie Bar and Flossy Tossy Syrup packets. Instead, despite all the attention on obesity, nothing must stand in the way of allowing consumers their grazing of glistening Trans Fats, sugars and salts during their polystyrene shopping expeditions.

Or so it seems!