Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Warding off roaming ghosts and 50 years of wedded bliss.

November 1, 2015

My paternal grandparents wedding photo at Krasnapolsky Hotel, Amsterdam.

It is not for nothing that Halloween almost coincides with the day we decided to give our fondness for each other a legal format. We hopped into the registrar’s office in Finland and got married on 30th Oct 1965. That was fifty years ago! Notice my hesitancy to avoid the word ‘love’ and call it ‘fondness’ instead. ‘Love’ is so overused in English, it never quite seems to sum it up as when that same word is conjured up in other languages. A Europhobe might agree.  I mean ‘aimer’ or ‘lieben’  ring differently, does it not?. They say ‘Oh, I really love hot chips with vinegar.’ I can’t imagine translating that  literally in many other languages. Love in Dutch is ‘liefde or ‘lief hebben’ and that noun or verb could never be used in the context of hot chips with vinegar. But there you are;  different strokes for different folks.

We are both not sentimental. Birthdays, Sundays, wedding days and even Christmas days come and go without too much fanfare. We prefer to make each day  good or at least bearable. Not that we dance around the table or eat lots of cake but we do enjoy each other’s company more than anything. Our wedding 50th year almost completely passed us when a good friend phoned us up on the evening of 30th of October, asking us if we knew  what day it was. I racked my brains off. Was it a special rugby day or something about a horse race? There has been a lot of attention on both events the last few days. Our dear friend reminded me it was our fiftieth wedding day. It was a surprise; Holey Moley!

When I told Helvi it was our fiftieth wedding, she shouted into the phone, ‘oh what a ‘journey’ this has been’. It has been a bit of an inside joke amongst our friends, that popular parlance on psychiatry’s couches often refers to the difficulties of a life as being on a ‘journey’.  The solution to unhappiness is to transfer our fixation by thinking of all that as being on a journey. A bit like a Thomas Cook trip on the Nile or the sighting of a bear in Alaska.

Gold is of course the traditional gift that couples give to each other on their 50th, but it so happens that even in the area of precious metal, we are in complete unison. We don’t like the  yellow metal. We prefer silver. I mean my dearest H does.  Both metals are resistant to corrosion. I don’t know whether that is significantly related to longevity in relationships.

Try and look up 50th wedding anniversaries and all you get are lists and lists of what to shop for, how unromantic. The whole idea of celebrating anything has been hijacked by commerce and shopping. Christmas, Halloween, normal birthdays, weddings, it is all about shopping. A couple of days ago we were in a large shopping mall. Helvi was looking for some gift. A poor and somewhat oversized shop assistant girl at Big W was dressed in a long black gown with a black cape. She was carrying a large black painted carton axe.  Her cheeks had a white paste and there was pretend blood dribbling down her chin. She looked lugubrious.  I did not know what she was supposed to do but the poor girl just kept standing there. Every few minutes she looked at her watch. It would have been so silly, so degrading. Helvi explained this was probably something to do with the Halloween night that was coming. The girl was there to excite customers in spending money on all sorts of paraphernalia to do with Halloween.

Our 50th went and is gone now. We are getting old and understand pain so much better than the young. We have been each others best friends through so much. What more could one want?

We went to see a movie ‘The Dressmaker’ which had Kate Winslet, Judy Davis and Hugo Weaver in it. We all know that Judy Davis is the best actor ever produced in Australia. The film was alright but produced a lot of laughter from mainly slapstick humour. I worried why I wasn’t laughing as much as the rest of the patrons. The man siting next to me was on an almost permanent laughter, guffawing even during the more serious parts. I started to again worry about my reluctance to join in. Surely, someone who was hit by a Singer  sewing machine was worthwhile laughing about? No, it wasn’t. I was greatly relieved that my lovely H did not join in laughter either. And, let me add, that she is a great laugher. Her laughter is infectious. It is a hearty throaty laugh, infectious to others and it comes effortless. It is one reason amongst many others, we are celebrating our 50th fondness for each other.

Feel free to congratulate us.

Halloween and the ‘trickle down’ of wealth lie

October 30, 2015


Yummy, Halloween is in town. Soon, the kids will be knocking on my door. I have a nice hand woven cane basket behind the door filled with well washed, snappy, juicy celery sticks. Any complaints and I will give them a sermon on how my mum made soup from potato peelings and that the yearly glass of orange cordial was something we looked forward to on our birthday, and that was only after the end of WW2 . The kids should give me a lolly really.

I am always amazed how some kids will buy an ice-cream or some other treat, take a few licks or bites, only to callously discard it when the taste whim has been exhausted. What opulence, what lonely wealth we now enjoy. Is it true that wealth has ‘trickled down’? It might be true that kids can buy a sweet at whim. That is not true when it comes from most people having benefitted from tax cuts that predominantly favour the rich over the poor. More and more wealth end up with fewer people. The economy of supply hasn’t saved the world from an impoverished ecology or benefitted the homeless, the unemployed, the mentally ill.

Who benefitted from Australia’s resource boom  a few years ago? Did Australia build a kitty for the future? No, most of its wealth went to  just  a few of the owners and their share holders. Australia did not build a wealth fund. It was simply not possible. The resource rich leases of mining tenements were sold to a few wealthy people who profited enormously. There was no ‘trickle down’ at all, more of a ‘torrent upwards’.


“The richest 85 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5bn. That should be a wake-up call to the deepest sleepers”. As for Halloween;

The Big Lollie Houses are in Shepherd Street.

October 17, 2012


The BIG lollie houses are in Shepherd Street.

By gerard oosterman


As we planned to live in Bowral we thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to experience how Halloween was celebrated there. The grandsons, all three of them, had been preparing for the event and their mothers had rummaged in wardrobes to retrieve last year garbs, knuckle dusters, fierce looking hatchets and of course the conical hats with the skull masks.

Little 6year old Max, who would like nothing more than to grow up on a diet of lollies was especially excited about the prospect of bulging bags with sweets.  Back in a very leafy suburb where they live, each year’s Halloween had been highly successful. Of course, those very green suburbs were always terrific for Halloween fans. The last few years many single houses with huge gardens were easy pickings for the money merchants to demolish and put up 8 townhouses instead. The ‘treat and trick’ kids get 8 chances instead of just the one. Against that, some of the latest now have formidable electronic gates which can only be opened by proper identity checks and clearances through the use of a walkie-talkie system and remotes. None the less, bagfuls were collected and the Bowral environment would have to do a lot to even come close.

The big day had almost arrived and the night before our daughters and their sons managed to liaise and merged together at Bowral and had settled in a friend’s house with take away Chinese meals, Harry Potter movie on the telly, and the knuckle dusters and other Halloween paraphernalia tucked under the kids beds.

Halloween was only hours away. The question; what would be the differences between the Halloweens of Sydney and Bowral, if any?  Could those differences be based on the social aspects of the inhabitants?  Some of the more salubrious suburbs of Sydney are very much populated by social climbers keen on material goodies rather than, well, not much else, according to our daughters. Bowral, on the other hand is very much the territory of the ‘arrived’.  Retired politicians, (Hewson is selling his abode at a mere $11.000.000) and successful race horse breeders, notable TV personalities , a mixture of gangsters and some poor sods that still catch the daily train to Sydney for work,  but, hopefully, not much longer . Those gated communities are on the rise there as well but nowhere like in Sydney.

The next morning, the Bowral community woke to a sunny day. The newsagent girls had already donned conical hats; their hair dyed a ghoulish blue. This was a good omen and I told the kids so at my return home with newspaper tucked under my arms. I also bought some lollies just in case of a disaster. The gardens are huge and it takes almost a hike to just reach the front door. How much stamina would our grandsons have to traverse those large gardens with miles of delphiniums and acres of petunias?

At about 5.30 pm we set off in 2 cars with the 2 mothers, three grandsons and me.  It was hot and the Halloween outfits were made of impenetrable black Nylon. The kids had also grown and the outfits were tight around the crutches. The mothers had suggested making cuts to give more room. But ‘my undies will show’, the kids retorted. Well,’ put on black underpants and no one will notice’. ‘No way’, Jak said. Off they went. The tight crutches a small price to pay for retaining dignity.

The first few attempts were lousy. The long walk-ups to the front door, past the parked car and barking terrier, and back again without as much as a single person opening doors were discouraging. Perhaps the residents had locked themselves up in anticipation of a real Halloween or were of Scottish descent. After some five doors knocks, some success. Thomas and Jak came back smiling.  Only Max was still miffed. They each had a packet of raisins!

All of a sudden another competing group of Trick and Treat kids came on the scene, accompanied by conical attired mothers with flowing witches’ dresses and wildly waving arms. ‘It is in Shepherd Street’ one mother told Max. ‘That’s where the really BIG lolly houses are’, she added.

We, of course forgot to ask where Shepherd Street was. No worries, my daughter looked up on her Sat Nav gadget and we all jumped in the two cars and in no time found the right street with the big lolly houses. It turned out that an old lady had arranged a street meeting with other owners and they all decided then to make an effort to make Halloween special for the local kids. Balloons and signs would be put on gates indicating that treats were there for the ‘tricking’.

What lovely social enterprising by this old lady. Bowral might be the place to retire to.

Remember; Shepherd Street is where the really BIG LOLLIE houses are.