Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

Too many hyphens and inverted commas. An edit!

January 7, 2016

untitled Scheyville



The photo is not mine.

An unforgettable memory etched in my mind was the generosity of the Australian government run Camp in the availability of unlimited supplies of food. It was all free and copious in quantity. The first few days we ate in the very large food hall. You picked up the food by queuing at the kitchen counter with a large plate. You ate what was ladled out. It was mainly very large enormous mutton chops, still glistening in fat with peas and a mountain of mashed potatoes. Sometimes it was sausages and pumpkin. You then carried the full plate back to large tables that had knives and forks already spread out. You sat on benches. We would all tuck in with a vengeance.

You can imagine, most migrants were from post or still on-going war ravaged countries. Hungarians, Czechoslovakians and Bulgarians, many with university degrees. There were refugees who had escaped from German extermination camps that had already spent years roaming from camp to camp in Europe. They were true refugees. Many also from Holland and Germany, Italy and Greece, today classified as ‘economic’ refugees. All of whom were hungry and now in the Promised Land. This Scheyville food hall fed a hungry Europe as never seen before. Some straddled the benches with plates clutched between thighs instead of sitting at the table, so as to be closer to the plate or perhaps of fear the food would get stolen. One large Bulgarian man would chew on his mutton chops pulverising the chop- bone with bare teeth. I looked on in amazement. He did it to impress his country fellowmen much to their amusement and laughter. After the solid food was eaten, one could again tank up or take seconds in the form of a jelly. The jelly was aeroplane jelly. A favourite ad on the radio was ‘I love aeroplane jelly’.

I used to grab slices of bread for afters, scooped up large quantities of IXL jam available on every table in giant gallon jars. It had huge chunks of real fruit in it. It was lovely, fancy being able to take as much as you liked? Surely Australia so far was everything that it had promised and more!

The ‘Greening’ of Australia

March 31, 2015
My grandparents house in Holland.

My grandparents house in Holland.

If greening means anything al  it should at least include the colour green. Gardens that are filled with concrete and pebblecrete are often seen as lacking in some growth of  an organic nature. The inner city suburbs that now exclude anyone without a spare couple of millions, were the first to be bought up by migrants from Italy ,Greece and later on from the  former war torn Yugoslavian countries. While many liked their houses to have some garden, many did not.  Some felt it was a sign of prosperity and of having ‘arrived’ not having to grow vegetables on every square inch of land anymore like back home. Concrete was easy and cheap and it would keep the car parked very nice and clean as well.  They did not migrate to Australia having to continue growing tomatoes, potatoes and zucchini like back home just to stave off hunger and bendy legs. They were now well beyond poverty that they had left behind. A clean start with a concrete yard was the aim of many.

With time passing and migration from Europe slowing down the inner city suburbs with the concreted-over yards became fashionable as the original migrants got old, and as is the norm, ended up below some green grass despite their fear of it. Fading plastic flowers now biding time and keeping watch over the many Luigi’s , Nestors, Marias and so many black cladded eternally mourning Donnas.  .It has come to pass even to the best of them, irrespective of a green or grey priority. We will all end up bleached boned and push up cheerful  nodding daisies. A new and far more moneyed class are buying up the inner city houses, pushing up prices to unbelievable levels. Two million dollars for a 2 bedr. worker’s cottage is now the norm. Those poor Sicilians leaving Messina for Leichhardt or Balmain could not have foreseen that the  $ 600.- back in 1950s would turn into a couple of million some sixty years later.

A different greening is now beholden of so many. No more apparent than at last Saturday’s voting for a state government. The same party did not get booted out as was hoped as they should have, but the Green party with future more in mind than all the others combined gave some hope for this voter. As a member I had volunteered to hand out how to vote for the Green party. After arrival at 8am sharp a Green member was unfolding a little table on which to spread out the literature of what they stand for; anti coal seam gas extraction (fracking), anti coal mining and anti selling the ‘poles and wires’ leases  for 49 years. And for me their main stand on humane handling of refugees.  ‘Fracking’ seems to give the game away just by sheer use of that unknown verb. It is not even in the dictionary. That says a lot already! I mean, how can a worker get home and tell his loving wife; I have done some good fracking today dear, while taking his boots off.

I had a very social time and all the volunteers seemed a happy lot, no matter what party or creed they stood for. We soon crossed over and started talking and…get this…a Liberal party member volunteered to get coffees from the local café just around the corner from where the voting took place. There was not a hint of animosity or rancour. We were all joking and laughing, bonhomie galore. It makes one think that on a level of just ‘normal’ people  getting together there are no problems that could not be solved over a friendly latte, but once they form into different and separate groups and parties, the rot seems to set in.

It might be too simplistic a notion but would banning political parties ( except the Greens)make things better or at least ban Prime Ministers like Abbott or Howard?

Greek Drama with Euro-Neuro

June 18, 2012

Greek Drama with Euro-Neuro.

The unity of Europe with a common currency was a dream that was destined to become a nightmare. It was conceived in good faith but the genes were so diverse and far apart that the result could not have been but a mule, neither a horse nor a donkey, a sterile disambiguation at best.

The United States of America has at least a common language and common culture. Going from north to south there is a common architecture, language and common goals. Through work and credit card they hope to ‘make it’. A simple philosophy of materialism that more or less, (lately a bit less,) that has stood the test of time. And with Hollywood and Gridiron thrown it they have somehow achieved a kind of unity that by and large seemed to have worked for its population.

Just look at Europe and its diversity. The question should be asked; why this need for commonality? If anything, its diversity should have been encouraged and maintained instead of it artificial made homogenous with the push of the Euro.

The Greeks should have been allowed to remain the architects of democracy. Let them sit around cafes, it worked very well in the past. There is a need for the Greeks to do their own thing.

What would a common European culture be like? Should it be like the British, a hotchpotch of chasing something forever obsolete with their love of complicated tradition and dislike of the new? Should it be the simplicity of the Scandinavians or the thriftiness of the Dutch?  Or should it embrace the German method with its icy emphasis on order and meticulous organizational qualities? Perhaps the French way, with its food and love of fashion and truffles. Spain with paella. Oh, Portugal with its deliciously char-grilled sardines. Unforgettable.

The different work ethics, the different languages and above all the different cultures cannot make for a united Europe with all ambitions and its entire people being the same. Europe should celebrate its diversity and share the good but not at the cost of differences.

Years ago, train travel on the Continental express Genoa- Stockholm was an unforgettable experience, not least with all the pass-port controls and different currencies. Why did we ever think this needed weeding out? What is the benefit of this Euro efficiency when it all ends up being boring and monotonous? What are we alive for? Remember the custom officers (Douanes)? They all wore different caps and showed such different idiosyncrasies. Some would look you in the eye and try and determine levels of honesty, or, if capable of smuggling rare cheeses or African diamonds. Other would just nod and walk on. In Genoa you bought a small bottle of wine and half a chicken passed through the train window for 500 lire. In Germany, a Brodchen mit Kase or Bock-wurst.

What’s the point of going to Greece or any European country and not use a different currency? I went to Melbourne last week-end and ended up landing in a different kind of Sydney. Not one Iota of difference. I could just as well been in Perth. The same Harvey Norman frontages, the same large car parks with Big Macs golden arches. The sameness of a stifling all encompassing ennui of dreary monotonous architecture. Is that what the Euro-Visional behavioral architects envisaged? Surely not!

From Rambo Amadeus;

Euro skeptics, analphabetic, try not be hermetic. Euro-Neuro, not be skeptic, hermetic, neurotic, pathetic and analphabetic.

Forget all cosmetic, you need new poetic etc.

Idealism in Chaos ( A Greek Tragedy)

May 15, 2012


Another big fall in world markets, billions will be wiped off and Greece is tottering on the brink of total economic collapse. Good morning!

Some European countries which were supposed to be examples of how society ought to distribute wealth more equitable are now being lined up to fall like a row of dominoes set up on the dining table of good and well intentioned but un- equitable sharing of the rich Euro baked pork dish with crackling good social security till the grave.

What went wrong? Was it the apple sauce?

The answer might well come from the dining table itself. The excessive ladling out of all those goodies without balancing it to an equal generous increase in taxation revenue was always dodgy. The expenditure didn’t match the income. A classic case of economic delusion that one can live beyond means was always a premier lesson at the kindergarten of economics. If you keep scooping the sand out the sandbox will finally be empty.

The lure of getting more with less income seemed to have overtaken the world of capitalism. Election after election the sound economic principles of setting expenditure to income was eroded away. The voters swallowed it like marsh-mellows on a stick held above the fire of greed and avarice. Right wing governments took over with the promise of more for less and we were all seduced by this ugly Judas kiss. And look at us now? Will there be blood on the streets once again?

With Portugal and Spain queuing up after Greece with youth unemployment at a staggering fifty percent it seems to be hovering on a similar precipice into economic collapse.

In Australia we keep rubbing hands together with glee in how we seemed to have escaped the GFC turmoil with our scooping up of mineral resources. In the process we seem to forget that this is due to luck much more than sound economics. Take out China, and we too would be lining up at soup-kitchens.

Are we too taken in by the lure of more for less? Notice the upheaval in the suggestion of raising taxation on our resource mining companies. Notice how the Three hot headed Musketeers of our resource companies have taken on Australia and its citizens daring to utter getting paid a fair share of the economic resource pie. Notice too, how the principal of taxing those that defile our environment is fought against tooth and nail. Millions are being spent in advertisement opposing this very sound and principled way of making the environment spoilers pay for it. We too are cruising for a bruising being taken in by the fairy floss of more for less.

At least in Europe there seems to be a return to the left with new governments willing to find a solution in bringing the rich back to the kitchen table of give and take.  In France, the rich will have to pay much more tax and many are questioning how anyone should have more than they can possibly need. Capitalism has gone berserk and the masses are paying for the sins of the rich. The poor, for too long have been denied a share for which they have worked just as hard as the rich, which, in the majority of cases inherited the wealth enabling them, with the regimes of lower and lower taxation, to keep on exploiting handy taxation loopholes and fattening themselves on the pork crackling of lenient taxation laws.

It is not for nothing that the collapsing economic capitalist world is looking anew at Scandinavia. They were always looked at askance and with suspicion. How could a taxation regime of over fifty percent continue to thrive giving its citizens a world of social welfare that would sooner or later end in total collapse and disaster? Well, the Scandinavians did not and now seem to own the only beacon of light and insight in perhaps having a solution for those countries on the brink of economic disaster.

We should perhaps look anew at those prophets of lower taxation being the only way forward. Just look how, with the new budget, we have delayed Foreign Aid? We have the top three wealthiest in our society owning over 30 billion. Or is it 40 billion now?

How just is our society and how moral when we can’t support foreign aid anymore and at the same time support not raising taxation for the obscene wealthy?

Social Intercourse amongst the Dagos and Reffos

March 16, 2012

We know there was always some kind of town or village center where people used to meet up, mingle and gossip. The old water-well did not always contain the bodies of the missing loved ones, more likely to hold endless tales of folklore and the latest news, perhaps spiced with the regaling of the latest sexual maneuverings amongst the libidinous of the village… It has always been like that!

In the larger towns and cities it was the square in front of the cathedral or market place where the same was served to keep the locals in contact with each other. Look at Pieter Bruegel’s paintings. The dalliances of the locals together at town’s centers could never be told with any more precision. The kicking up of heels during the 1530’s has, as far as I know, never been surpassed since. Even Michael Jackson’s Moon-Walk pales into a rather limp expression of a dance. Talk about dancing, whatever happened to those mirrored balls suspended from ceilings spitting glitter around the dancers? Has it all gone into the pails of history?

In the 1960’s one of the best places to pick up a sheila, was Trocadero in George Street, Sydney. There was a strict protocol. The slightest whiff of alcohol and you were barred. There were special men,  trained connoisseurs of breaths, reputedly able to detect, with great precision, the difference between a sprinkle of Eau De Cologne and a lager. The odour disguishing help of peppermints was always a trick that only worked towards the end of the evening when the alcohol had worked itself out of the system, at that stage; everything gets a bit limp anyway. The only beverage available, once broken through the cordon of breath sniffers, and finally inside that Mecca for picking up sheilas, was a generous supply of, (another Australian icon on par with the Victa lawnmower) Fanta orange drink.

Alas, even Fanta is now foreign owned together with the Victa. In China they have built an entire high rise city of 150.000 people totally geared towards the manufacturing of Hills Hoists. This city is called “happy clothes dryers-“快樂布烘乾線 “After 2 years of hard work, employees receive a free Victa, after 20 years a much revered free Hills Hoist. I remember digging out a concrete lump that surrounded the base of the hoist, a job I would now not be able to do anymore. How the years creep up in all those little things that one used to do and so much enjoy.

Meanwhile back at the Trocadero in the fifties and sixties, the picking up of sheilas was a serious Saturday evening pursuit well worth foregoing the alcohol. The only snag during that period was the oversupply of men. There were all those sturdy muscled miners from Finland, dazzling blond hair all shiny and brilliantined up and expert tango dancers. I’ll never forget those cane cutters from Queensland, many from fascinating East European backgrounds called ‘reffos’.  The competition for a dance was fierce, feudalistic amongst the men, often on a knife’s edge. My rather lanky figure in Julius Marlow shod feet had to compete with those and the (less popular but infinitely better looking Dean Martin’s look-alikes) swarthy Italians and Creeks, called “dagos”. I was occasionally successful with the business of Sheila picking-up but always looked forward to the Fanta as well.

One made the best of what was available.

My poor rich Country

February 24, 2012


There are riots in Greece and a ruckus in the Ukraine, terrible events in Syria, a possible overthrow kept at bay in the Philippines. The tribes in Yemen are getting restless; the € euro is wildly gyrating at the mercy of Merkel. Will she kiss or just shake hands with the obstinate Nicolas Sarkozy? Europeans are all bleary eyed, keyed up with tension and Common Market constipation, millions suffering intermittingly serious bouts of intestinal hurry. Some desperate Italians are said to be holed up in caves sitting on hoards of gold.

But, where are the problems in Australia?

Are the butchers running out of T-bones or have the rules of cricket been changed. Don’t tell me the Friday night bingo has been scrapped, the meat raffle banned, cows off their milk? All of a sudden, with not as much as a single seething university student or a hyped up history professor, Australia has gone terribly hormonal. When everything is rolling around in total peace and everyone happily tucked in bed, an ex PM decides at midnight’s hollow chime to chuck it in and go for the Government’s jugular. The bells are tolling, heads are rolling, and tongues are wagging. We are having a serious political breakdown and the whole nation is gone troppo with all the excitement of a coup d’état at the Dungog local ladies bowling club.

This country is, according to almost everyone in the rest of the world, the prime example of a well run economy. Our treasurer even won an award for being the best. We are whooping it up as never before. Mountains of iron ore, together with shiploads of the top few hundred metres of the Australian continent is scraped, sold, and shipped to China. We are all getting rich without even having to be on the boat to China and risk sea sickness. Isn’t it nice to be so well off? Our McMansions are the biggest in the world. Anyone visiting us can’t get over our lovely acreages of rolling suburbs stretching out over those enticing blue hills into the ‘never never’. The Rosella circuits with triple garages to boot, all dress- circled around those flowing round-a-bouts are the envy of the world.

Could it possibly be a personal vendetta that is now holding our sweet nation of Australia at ransom? Have souls been so deeply hurt, almost irreparably, that forgiveness can never be achieved without first hurling wreckage at an entire nation? How could this ever happen to a country known for its people being easy going, tolerant and full of bonhomie? Why the vindictiveness and allow the screaming of the indignant cries of having been personally wronged overpower all and obliterate all the previously achieved good-will and public achievements? How can the personal be put so above the good for the country. Where is the common sense in all this? Is this what power finally does to the person?

No matter how we look at it, Australia has achieved milestones since the last election. Acres of Legislation have been passed, mountains moved and all was going well. Are mere egos now wrecking a political party? How far are politicians willing to go to pursue their narcissistic ambitions above those of their party and constituents? Of course, the media, as ever sniffing around for blood, has been shoveling manure to the max, holding a knife at our Nation’s throat while doing the bidding for those large overfed mining moguls with the help of the shock jock’s blood hound expertise. Has anyone seen the headlines? An orgy of self destruction, and to what end and where are the benefits for this rich and poor country of mine?

How far are any of us from being a Bashar al-Assad?