Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Is Sport overrated?

July 9, 2017

 

7659422-3x2-340x227Child detention

Northern Territory detention centre for children

It wasn’t all that long ago when men and women were sometimes referred to as ‘sport’. Howyergoing ‘sport’? wasn’t all that an uncommon way of greeting. It sometimes still is used. Most countries enjoy playing sport but many if not most  men and women in this country hold the view that sport in Australia is absolutely sacrosanct and not to be fiddled with. Per capita we used to win more Olympic medals that most other countries. Thankfully that has come down somewhat lately.

In fact, going to the school halls of both public or private schools one gets the impression that schools are there mainly to teach students sport. Those large varnished boards nailed to the hallowed walls at school’s community entrances have the best of student’s sporting achievements all carefully emblazoned in gold-leaf lettering. One looks in vain for the best Math or English language students. The more prestigious the school, the more attention given to sport.

Perhaps the economy is impacting those expensive boarding schools now, but in the cinema we  get shorts in which schools advertise their academic menus which more often than not feature boys, and sometimes girls, scrumming around with balls or hockey sticks. I have yet to see school advertisements whereby a book features or a student is pensively looking at a painting.

This why it is so heartening to see that cricket is coming to its senses. Apparently some ‘tours’ are in doubt. There are payment disputes. It is all too complicated for some of us to get to the finer points of the ins and outs. I have always found it a baffling game of two teams wanting to get ‘in’ only to then, when finally ‘in’ ,wanting to get ‘out.’ With the dispute still not solved there is a good chance we will enjoy a nice Christmas without the tedious drone of cricket scores filtering through the vertical blinds.

But, the real bonus, nay, the icing on the cake, is one of our tennis players openly admitting he is ‘bored’ with hitting the tennis ball. What clear-sighted honesty. Such boldness in admitting that hitting a ball backwards and forwards isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Surely, the king is starkers underneath all that emphasis on sport. A footballer who hit another one out cold has now been banned for life playing his ball- sport and is charged by police. Sport is clearly overrated when belting each other on and off field is the norm. Look how often enraged tennis players chuck their rackets. They take it all too seriously. Calm down boys and girls, smell the roses!

In a previous post I suggested that winners should be those that come last. It would calm sport down to what it should be. A concern and care for the opponent rather than a selfish need to be a ‘winner.’ I know that we are all urged by our Government to be winners and not losers but a fact remains that per definition a winner is just a single person. It is a silly aim. How does that fit in with being a country that prides itself on being egalitarian and just?

Look at that sad spectacle of a previous female champion tennis player, reduced now to simpering loudly against those that want to get SSM married. She has lost love for her own kind and that just isn’t  good ‘sport.’ No matter what physical sport one pursues, it is all doomed to slacken with age. And then what?

Our attitude to the refugees on Manus and Nauru sits strangely in all this chest-beating of what it means to have true Australian values. It just isn’t good sport, is it?

What it means to support and stand up for Australia. Have those values been allowed to drift away? Are the values of an Italian or Pole so much different? It all smacks of a silly form of nationalism. I noticed Trudeau from Canada publicly and loudly telling the world Canada  welcomes all refugees.

What would I not give for our immigration minister Dutton or our leader Turnbull to come out strongly for the refugees and for once show what it means to be a ‘GOOD SPORT’ and allow them to live in Australia instead of all the horse trading with America.

It came to $41.20 without any sugar

April 3, 2017
IMG_0815

Grapes, strawberries and figs.

The $41.20 was the total of our shopping adventure this morning. The day started early. With the change in day-light saving we seem to get up earlier instead of sleeping longer. That sleeping-in, so desired when young, evades us now. I am always glad the night is over. Unless we have to get out shopping and walking, we generally muck about till midday in our pyjamas. Now that winter is knocking, we might consider not even moving out of them at all. We shall see!

We are still reeling somewhat from a range of TV programs whereby eating sugar has been taken under the loupe. I hope millions have watched those TV programs and the dire consequences resulting from eating sugar. It is not just obvious sugar, no it is the hidden sugar in our foods. Most breakfast cereals, sauces, micro-wave foods and almost all processed foods have  lots of sugar.  I thought that a fruit yoghurt was a fairly safe food to ingest. Wrong! That too has ladles of sugar. So have all fruit drinks. Of course, a Coke drink is pure poison. If cigarettes are addictive, the experts reckon so is sugar. The present world epidemic of obesity is all sugar related. Yet,  apart from some brave souls exposing the evils of sugar, our government is eerily quiet. “A personal choice,” they might sometimes whisper behind closed doors.

We have never been fond of sweets and apart from one spoon of sugar in coffee we never take the stuff in anything else. We cook without shop-bought sauces. I suppose those lovely Italian tinned tomatoes have some sugar, as has most bread and pasta. We never drink lemonade or soft drinks, and reckon water is as good a drink as any. But…what about wine? I thought that the sugars in grapes convert into alcohol. Is that so? I hope so. I would not like to give up my love of the afternoon ritual sitting in the garden talking with Helvi while sipping wine.

Milo knows the ritual and we bring his cushion out. A creature of habit. He sees me filling a glass with Shiraz and he bolts towards the back-yard sliding doors. He loves us doing that. So, I do hope that there isn’t too much sugar in wine, even if just for Milo’s sake.

It is amazing that most of our modern dietary habits have been installed by the large Multi Corporations. I remember the large Coca Cola truck rolling into our primary schools in Holland giving all children a free Coca Cola. This was during the mid nineteen- fifties. It was the beginning of the end. We seem powerless against the intrusion into our lives by those large businesses that profit from spreading premature deaths to millions all over the world. Deaths that can easily be avoided by not eating so much sugar.  The health costs eventually will force government to act and stand up to the likes of MacDonald, KFC, Cadbury and all those other perfidious multi nationals. I noticed that some school kids during sport wear caps with the McDonald logo on it. How is that possible?  Where are the protesting parents?

In those programs the large corporations were asked about their responsibility in all that obesity. They avoided it by denying the evils of sugar. The same tactics used by cigarette companies.

But getting back to our shopping bill. The $41.20 included;  a man’s flannel pyjamas (XL), a bottle of Precious Earth Shiraz,  a four pack of salmon cutlets, a bar of Dove soap, a bunch of broccolini, three avocadoes, Cherri tomatoes, a tin of Italian tomatoes and four bananas. There might have been another item but I threw away the receipt.

 

‘Winter in America,’ Children’s Library and Vegie co-op (Auto-biography)

July 26, 2015
Balmain Watch-house.

Balmain Watch-house.

The way things are going in this auto- biography it will run into a literary cinemascope  version of  Days of our Lives with the Hammond organ belting out a circular and never ending tune.  The cheek of thinking that my life is any better or more important or interesting than that of any living being or Jo Blow!  I shall just continue because I enjoy this very much.  And if there is a blow out of too many words, well…just skip a few pages… or start at the end and work towards the middle. Even if it relieves insomnia for just a single night for just a single person, I’ll be a happy man.

Apart from the baby-sitting club, another community enterprise was the vegie co-op which also started to sprout up in the various communities of inner Sydney suburbs. I am not sure anymore if this came about during our stay at Gertrude’s cottage between 1969-1973 or after our stay in Holland and subsequent return in 1976. In any case a group of people decided to fork out $10.- each week towards a kitty to buy fruit and vegetables at the Flemington wholesale fruit and vegie markets at Homebush.  It was a huge market covering a very large area where all the fruit and vegie shops would get their produce at wholesale prices. It also had several cafeteria where the buyers could get sustenance and a coffee. Many fruit and vegie shops were run by Italians and Greeks, so food and coffees were as necessary as the apples, kale and celery which they filled their trucks up with, especially when the buying started at 5am.  You can imagine how early the growers had to get up and prepare their stalls? Farming is tough! It was a hectic few hours and the men, and many women too, would be ravenous by seven am. The market as all markets do, also had great atmosphere and laughter was everywhere.

Of some interest was my market shopping partner Jimmy Stewart. He was  Irish. He loved a good yarn and food. He looked somewhat like a juvenile Oscar Wilde. He had dark hair hanging over his face and a large stomach. After our shopping of many boxes of fruit and vegies, we would visit the cafeteria, enjoy bacon and eggs, coffee and a cigarette. He loved women and they generously reciprocated, yet he was never good marriage material. His income sporadic and swallowed up by international phone calls to entrepreneurial music and record companies. He generally managed to get me to buy cigarettes and pay for the bacon and eggs. But, he was terrific company, always whistling and singing. A cheerful soul. A great friend.

He was a writer of music, popular music and would let nothing stand in the way of doing that. Sadly, it did not bring in a regular income, yet women were attracted to him often in order to find out that a future including a cosy and secure family-life would be hazardous at best and reckless at worst.  That’s how so often and so sadly, love gets lost. The combination of income with a mutual everlasting and reasonable attraction is so desired and yet so rarely achieved. Money so often the banana skin on the doorstep of many relationships. Indeed, even with plenty of money things can get perilous.

While we drove to the markets and back he used to hum a song that really hit the world at that time. It was ‘Winter in America’.  It had a line that included the ‘Frangipani’. “The harbour’s misty in the morning, love, oh how I miss December / The frangipani opens up to kiss the salty air” – Ashdown’s lament to “leave love enough alone” has become one of the great Australian standards.

It was Jimmy Stewart’s creation and he would often sing it while driving to Flemington markets..

Here it is;

At the same time of the weekly boxes of fruit and vegies, another group also brought to fruition a Children’s library. Another community effort. The retired chief Commonwealth librarian named Larry Lake was the main person behind this idea. The National Trust had given the use of the Balmain Lock-up to a group that called themselves “The Balmain Association’. The ‘Lock-up’ or Watch house’ was busy during the heydays of Balmain still working as a Stevedoring and Waterfront suburb. There were lots of maritime associated industries and that is what attracted many to the area when that ceded to exist. During earlier times and at night the local constable would have been busy locking up inebriated sailors or others that liked to frequent so many pubs it was difficult to find normal houses in between. I believe Balmain had over 60 pubs at one stage. The air used to be thick with coarse oaths and rank vomit renting along the blue-stone cobbled noisy streets. It frightened the horses at times.

A group including myself spent many evenings getting this library working. There were fundraisings and book covering, cataloguing and getting shelving to fit into one of the Lock-up cells. It had a heavy steel door and sliding locking mechanism. Those poor drunks! The children that used to visit the cell library afterwards, just loved it.

Those were the days. It did include occasional bra removals, but also baby-sitting, vegie co-ops, music and books for children.

The period post Italy but pre- Finland. (Auto-biography)

June 27, 2015
Dolomites

Dolomites

The walk from Bressanone rail-station uphill to Bernard’s chalet must have been steep and long. Did I ask for a map or directions? I cannot remember. Consider that in those years suitcases on wheels were yet to be discovered nor were back-packs as progressive as they are now! Today I see young women with such towering back-packs getting from airports to taxi almost to the point of other bystanders ready to give an ovation.  Mind you, even back-packs are now on wheels as well.

I must have had a rough idea and perhaps asked a local for the address. This area was pre-dominantly German-speaking and I was fluent in that language. Bressanone, even though now Italian, used to be part of Austria and still today pre-dominantly Austrian in culture and population. The area is South Tirol.

I do remember reaching the chalet and my friend coming out greeting me. It was definitely sunny. The view was breath-taking with Bressanone nestling down in the valley and at the back of the chalet the towering Dolomites climbing forever upwards, glistening with their limestone faces. The chalet was a small and solid white washed adobe house with ornately carved gables,  window and door architraves, of which that area is famous for, and really an extension of the same architecture of  the medieval town in East Tirol of Lienz were I had spent time skiing during the winter and were I had met the girl with the beautiful eyes from Finland. It was at Lienz where I also had a ski fall and broke my glasses, as well as meeting my future wife. ( while dabbing my bleeding proboscis).

It was all such a liberating event. Liberated from the suburban ennui back in Australia with my family and Frank.  A liberation from wanting to work while wearing a suit hoping for recognition, admiration or at least something of achievement. A kind of something that young people are supposed to work towards. A career that would cement a solid future and  distinguish one from failure. All those things are not always so clearly defined but yet one grows up with as an obligation to fulfil to parents. As those early years passed by I did have a skill to earn some money and that stood me in good stead. However, the making of money is pretty boring unless compensated or alleviated  by an all encompassing and absorbing activity for  soul, spirit or psyche.

There are often moments of great significance that are recognised as such at a much later time. The meeting up with Bernard Durrant was one of those chances that on hindsight proved to be of great influence.  At the time in Italy we met for the second time. I had known Bernard in Australia. It was through him I took to chess playing and reading books and visiting State library.  He gave the advice to run your hand over the back of books at a library and pick the dustiest books! ‘They are often the best’, he said, especially in Australia! Reading in the early fifties was somewhat frowned upon. It was much healthier to play rugby or cricket, spear-tackle opponents. Libraries  visits by young men were rare.

I give you here a very short and copied biography of Bernard from a website by one of his friends.

“Already serving in the Army, Bernard was recruited by British Intelligence on the eve of the Second World War and was smuggled into Germany, but was soon discovered by the Nazis due to an inadequate cover story. Offered the choice of switching sides or death, he was posted to Alexandria, Egypt, where his brief was to spy on Allied shipping in the Mediterranean.When he arrived in Egypt, he escaped his German paymasters, and eventually made it back to the British Consul in the country.By this time he was considered tainted goods and was shipped back to Britain.

Once back on English soil he was promptly imprisoned in the Isle of Man under the Defence Regulation Section 18b, which was used by the Government to lock up more than 1,000 suspected traitors during the course of the war”. ( end of quote)

Girl with the 'Beautiful eyes' at Ankeriasjarvi, Suomi.

Girl with the’Beautiful eyes’ at Ankeriasjarvi, Suomi.

Bernard become the lifebuoy that saved me from going the normal way of career, block of own land and a house in the suburbs. I came so close to it. He got me to accept and understand that life ought to be inclusive of beauty and art. He went further and told me that life is all about exploration and finding what would give the greatest of joy and satisfaction. It all gelled and came together and I finally felt that my search for the essential would have to come through expressing what I felt strongest about. It might also relieve me from having to worry about career and job. It was so helpful that there were people like Bernard who had also travelled that same path and had found that creativity and expressing it was as much a ‘normal’ part of someone’s life as becoming a cigar smoking bank manager. Apart from all that we would continue to play chess high up the Tirol mountains.  I started to paint while Bernard already was writing poetry, some of which he managed to get published here and there. He had contacts and spoke both German and Italian which for an Englishman was somewhat unique.

All aboard to sunny Australia.

April 27, 2015

‘Let’s now move forward to, or back to, depending on what you might have read so far, to our period of migrating to Australia. The first murmurs I heard involved Argentina followed by South Africa. Australia came about because some war-time friends had already taken the step in the very early fifties or perhaps even the late forties. It took them 9 days to fly to Australia, so I am inclined to think it was the late forties. Their choice had been Australia. Many letters were exchanged and they were of the most euphoric kind. The streets of Australia were paved in gold and all was possible, own cars, own homes, cake eating on Sunday with mountains of cream, you name it, Australia had it all. My mother was really taken in by it,  ‘own home’ was beckoning more than anything, and especially with a bathroom.

At three years of age with same cousin Eva and her brother Paul. This time bare-footed. Fruit trees in background?

At three years of age with same cousin Eva and her brother Paul. This time bare-footed. Fruit trees in background?

Here a quick look again at those earlier war time periods. I seem to be joking or having fun still… Thirteen years later and I would find myself in Australia. It took a while for ‘fun’ to surface again.

But getting back to migrating and those last few weeks. The planning stage evolved rapidly with a visit to the Australian embassy and inspection by Australian Doctor. X rays were taken and the basics of our health determined by standing around in underpants while chests were listened to and asked to turn this way and that way. We had to touch toes and stick our tongues out to the Doctor. All our vaccinations were always strictly adhered to. Soon we all were deemed to be fit for Australia. We were the perfect white family for migrating and as there were six of us, Australia must have been drooling licking its still very British oriented but recent Australian Federation lips. Not a hint of a brown colour or smidgeon of Dutch colonial imprint of any kind. Blond and fair, just what the Doctor ordered

The canvas hooded walkway to our ship that we all walked through. Bye, bye Holland. I took my first photo onboard.

The canvas hooded walkway to our ship that we all walked through. Bye, bye Holland. I took my first photo on-board.

Above photo shows the gate-way to five weeks on-board a luxury boat full of Dutch migrants. There was a little band that would play over and over, ‘t was on the isle of Capri that I found her, with ‘O’ sole mio’ after we left Genoa. All hell broke lose when the boat pulled away from Sicily’s Messina. Many of those sons of Italian families would never be seen back again in those ancient villages.  Their mothers would be milling together, shedding tears around the water-wells for many months yet. The journey away from shores and love, so sadly final and permanent. A return impossibly expensive and at the time would not have been contemplated. Luigi, the best cobbler in Palermo now gone so was Antonio the dressmaker’s son. When the boat pulled away from Amsterdam and harbour, my mum and dad must have felt that too, but with six of us needing to find our cabins, they soon kept busy.

 

Brother Frank,(tall) with Herman on his left, sister Dora on right with brother Adrian

Brother Frank,(tall) with Herman on his left, sister Dora on right with brother Adrian

Photo above; Bye, Bye Holland. I took this photo with my newly bought camera earned from delivering fruit and vegetables to Embassies in the many weeks before. (mainly from American Embassy tips, which were extraordinarily generous,and with hot soup as well)

A sunset in mid ocean. Pity about the rope.

A sunset in mid ocean. Pity about the rope.

Of this photo I remember the on-board film shop developer praising me. I think it might also have been a moon shot. I don’t see any sun, but…it was a long time ago now. The time on board was amazing, a holiday as never before. Can you imagine getting a new menu to chose from each time?  The decisions to make; pork or beef, chicken, and in morning, eggs boiled or fried? There was table tennis, a sweep stake which we always won some money with. And that little orchestra; It was on the Isle of Capri that I found you, forget about the walnuts! The Italians were still doe eyed, sad!

This is a re-fuel stop at Aden. Last port before Freemantle

This is a re-fuel stop at Aden. Last port before Freemantle

The two weeks after leaving Aden to Freemantle was mainly spent by my parents getting their luggage trunks from down the bowels of the ship on deck to make an inventory and make sure we would all be ready for Sydney. My parents wanted us to make a good impression in Australia and only Sunday best would do. The arrival in Freemantle was on a Sunday.  I have to go back a few months  now. A good friend told me; tell your parents to think twice before going to Australia. ‘It is a very boring country and on Sunday everything is closed’.

The arrival in Freemantle on a Sunday proved his warning and I remembered. The only people walking around were the passengers from the boat. It was something like out of the Neville Shute book and film ‘On the Beach’ that was yet to be made. All of us looking at each other, all of us dressed Sunday-best with proper coats and ties, cleanly scrubbed necks and underpants. But, what for?

Freemantle was empty or at least it looked empty. I did hear a cricket score filtering through the blinds, not that I knew a cricket score then, but do know now.

FREMANTLE IN 1956 ON sUNDAY

FREEMANTLE IN 1956 ON sUNDAY

 

Arrival in Sydney.

Sydney's arrival at last, and my last photo on-board which I developed myself later, hence the 'quality'.

Sydney’s arrival at last, and my last photo on-board which I developed myself later, hence the ‘quality’.

 

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Juicy thighs with crushed Italian tomatoes.

February 4, 2015

photothighs and toms

The time has arrived to once again take to food writing. It was yesterday when we combined a visit to the Campbeltown quack on the way to grandsonal watching duties in Sydney. Grandson watching used to be combined with cooking a meal at home and taking it in an esky to Sydney and re-heating the lot for the starving grandsons.

Both grandsons now go to high school. The youngest for the first time. Again, memories came flooding back that I thought had gone and deeply buried or al least permanently dormant. It seems, no matter how deep things get buried sooner or later someone will dig it out. Those Dutchmen long gone on those forlorn West Australian Islands murdered and buried hundreds of years ago are being exposed now and will be remembered forever by those that write history.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-03/unearthed-grave-sheds-light-on-batavia-shipwreck-mass-murder/6068008
Can you imagine the horrors of those years?

But a more relevant memory, at least more relevant to this piece is the issue of ‘school uniforms’. How my mother rallied against them. I can still see her in full flight off to school defending her stance on education = allowing, nay encouraging individuality, which was the crux of her argument. All to no avail. She finally had to cave in. The subject was not open for reason or logic. She so gutturally pleaded as a last line of defence, ‘why not have at least all uniforms the same, no matter what school students go to?’ Her Dutch practical mind did not easily give up? She badly underestimated the might of Anglo-Saxon traditions and their much beloved credo; ‘if it isn’t broke don’t change’.

And now, go forward sixty years, I am off to school with grandson Max in tow hoping to at least get a couple of bargains from the second hand uniform shop at school’s office. He needed long pants, grey of course. Shoes,black of course. Blazer ($350.- new) with school motto (of course). This old man has mellowed and I did not argue at all, just smiled but remembered. Forgive me mum, it is all so much water under the bridge now. Some things never change, least of all school uniforms.

Max with school uniform apparel in a black plastic back and I drove home in the Peugeot with foot rest (of course). I then started on a lovely meal of chicken thighs and pan fried potatoes all drizzled with fine olive oil and a can of Italian crushed tomatoes with lots of sage and thyme.

Lovely it was and the boys loved it.

First we take Manhattan.(More of the Same, Thank you).

February 16, 2014

untitledManhattan

It’s odd that, even though the choices are supposed to be endless, we usually end up doing the same. What is the compulsion to be driven by the security of routine? I sleep, wake up, and make coffee. The choice could well be to not get up and wait for H to make my coffee. I could also just stay in bed and read or stare at the window, listen to the radio. ( I haven’t listened properly to a radio for years!)

I sometimes switch on the radio which is cemented solid on the ABC’s channel of classical music but within minutes switch it off again. The noise in the morning even of classical music is too much. Peace and quiet, especially in the mornings needs to be observed and maintained. Talk about maintaining the status quo and lauding ‘choice’? Even Chopin’s tingling on the piano before 10am is an intrusion on the sounds of birds and lovely stillness.

We sometimes break the rule, and especially after a couple of reds at night might put on the revolutionary Leonard Cohen’s ” First we take Manhattan,” or the schmaltzy Rod’s “I am sailing.” We play this loudly. Never mind the neighbours. They are in bed at 9pm. Can you believe it?

Why do people go to bed so early in Australia? I remember my teen years in the suburbs, never a light on after 9pm. What do people do so early in bed. Perhaps I have been mistaken. The place might well have been a cess-pit of unbridled lust, riddled and rocked with passion and sexual fever. Who knows? I doubt it though. It always puzzled me how people could spend so much time tending to a lawn. Hours, days, weeks on knees pulling out unwanted and different specimens of grasses! Oh, the pains of getting the perfect lawn.

But going back to routine. I could also have the choice of having a cup-o-tea with a cloud of milk with a coconut biscuit or a hot chocolate. Alas, I don’t, and I must therefore be firmly in the grip of routine. Yet, I have always prided and preached the sermon to others that we have freedom to change and really do what we like. Life is too short to not try out all sorts of things. Just jig about and do a quick step on the dance-floor of the available years ahead, I would advice. These are still my exhortations to others. There just seems to be a whiff of my usual hypocritism about it all.

As I was pondering about all this prior to getting out of bed, I felt a surge and need to do things differently this morning. “Let’s go for breakfast”, I stated bravely to my dear H. There is a shop around the corner and they have installed a lovely nook for those in need of early coffee and breakfasts.

It all looks very Italian and not at all the usual Aussie-Anglo stuff with muffins and doilies, drinking tea with little finger pointed forwards, toast and honey, stirring the sugar clockwise without tinkling the spoon, elbow raised perpendicular to the body. All this consumed by long married couples in utter silence.

No, this place has early morning laughter and shouting. “let’s go and make noise, have a focaccia Genovese, or maritozzo with whipped cream with Sardinia fried crepes with pecorino cheese and honey with Campanian sfogliatelle afterwards”, I said loudly. (I was hoping to impress my H, just having googled Italian Breakfasts.) “Let’s peruse the news, talk to people and do it differently this morning.”

A change of routine is like a visit to the doctor…

English Privacy and Rebekah Brooks.

May 16, 2012

Rebekah Brooks and Phone Hacking

While the tentacles of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire stretches well beyond Britain, the phone hacking and intrusion of ‘privacy’ seems to be mainly concentrated in the Anglo world. Why, one could reasonably ask?

Well, one answer might well be our obsession with deliberately living lives that are hidden. This wanting to be hidden dates back hundreds if not thousands of years. Perhaps the pillaging, raping and burning by the Vikings on our soil left its inedible mark on our proud British heritage.  Our home is our castle and if it wasn’t for lack of money, everyone  of us would want to be surrounded by moats and drawbridges. We compromise and have blinds, thick curtains and 6 feet high fencing instead.

We like our privacy. It is the first word of preference when asked how we would like to live. Where is my privacy? This is often the primary requirement when moving into a new home. When neighbours apply permission to extend or build something next door, the possible invasion of privacy is often the reason for councils objecting to the development application. I sometimes wonder why we build houses with windows.

We like our gardens but don’t want to be seen in them. When do the Anglos do their gardening, at night perhaps? We put in outside furniture and giant turbo driven 8 burner stainless steel gas barbeques but, by and large, we stubbornly want to remain hidden and prefer to have all that in the back yard and not at the front, risking fully exposing snags and ourselves to the dangers of the outside world.

Now, with this almost universally well known need for the Anglos wanting to remain hidden, unknown, unseen and ‘private’ till the grave, it is baffling what we are so keen about in wanting to remain hidden. What goes on behind those curtains of privacy? What lurks behind that wall or fence? Are dastardly acts of the most hideous and perverted nature  happening? Are the Anglos whipping themselves into a frenzy of orgiastic delights unknown to the rest of us?

Phone hacking outside the British Empire would never have that attraction to readers because everyone knows that the French Prime Minister has affairs or that the Italian President has a penchant for rubbing coconut oil on nubile young girls. Continentals live their lives in the open and rely on openness and community values in keeping an eye out over each other. In fact, the scandals that the Brits so delight in would at best elicit a yawn amongst most of the rest of the world.

Of course, the neuroses to remain hidden don’t mean that we are not curious in finding out what others are doing. It is a double edged sword. Make something hidden and we will inevitably want to snoop around, if only to find out if others are like us as well. This is why people were paid to do all this phone hacking.

Finally it becomes an addiction, hence those awful Anglo Sunday papers revealing who is doing the latest stint in a re-hab., or who is looking suspiciously pregnant and not even married to boot. That close up, is it proof of a Brazilian wax, surely not?  Gee, doesn’t Andrew Beiber look a bit pale; I am sure he is back on the crack-ice again, is he?

For the Murdoch Empire it was a colossal and monumental opportunity of money making. It worked while it was going on. And now, the spectacle of Rebekah Brooks in Court with her lovely tousled red hair will be another one of those continuing sagas, raking in even more money. Go for it boys.

Delights of King’s Ex-Army Disposals

May 8, 2012

Delights of King’s ex-Army Disposals.

There was nothing more encouraging for going bush than taking the train to Sydney’s Central and walk along Broadway towards Town-Hall. On a corner at George Street there was for many years a shop named King’s Disposals. It was advertised as an ex-army store selling used ex soldiers equipment but I was never so sure of that. They never sold guns or disused cannons or tanks. If you wanted a gun you had to walk on a few hundred meters towards the Town-Hall.  The gun shop was next to Pellegrini religious goods and gifts which I thought a rather strange combination of shops right next to each other. Although, history does tell us that one doesn’t preclude or exclude the other. In fact, often God and guns have been the best of buddies.

I bought my first gun in that shop next to the religious shop. It was a B.S.A 22mm rifle with a nicely polished wooden handle. It was graced with a sliding bolt action and five bullet cartridge. I remember buying it all wrapped up and then peering into the Pellegrini shop next door. The window was full of virtuous and holy looking virgins with many variations of Christ keeping an eye out for order…it must have been a difficult task with a wreath of thorns embedded into your head. Compared with the gun shop it all looked very unrealistic and somewhat silly, especially considering its situation. If ever there was a conflict of interest it was surely manifested there in George Street.

From memory there were also a few barber shops and perhaps a milk-bar called Stavros or maybe Mavros. Sooner or later your walk would then have taken you to the Trocadero Dance Hall where many of those Southern European migrants would be given their first of many refusals for a simple fox-trot. Later in the evening, many of those dark eyed lonely men would look for solace with East Sydney’s Chapel Street whores and go for a two-quid ‘short-time.’ No refusals  and there would be a busy and brisk trade in a different kind of fox-trot,  especially when the bus loads of Queensland cane cutters arrived. Pellegrini was fighting an uphill battle keeping those young men virtuous and from straying. Those brothels in Chapel Street now cost millions with many including ‘long time’ mortgages.

Going back to Kings Disposals there was a Chinese restaurant called the Tai-ping just around the corner. It was upstairs and specialized in Mongolian Lamb. I would sometimes be able to afford going there for a lunch before ending up at the markets a bit further on. Many times my brother John and I would buy young six weeks chicks guaranteed to be laying eggs within a couple of months. They always all turned out roosters. We finally decided to buy adult chickens which we took back to Revesby on the train all with their heads poking through the hessian bag staring bewildered at the fellow passengers. They often turned out to be old boilers but still managed to squeeze out the occasional egg or two. You had to look at their combs, we were finally taught by the more experienced chook buyers. We were on a long learning curve.

King’s Disposals have all disappeared. Soon after came the Clark Rubber shops selling rubber pool liners and above ground pools, inflatable rubber mattresses and other bedding goods imported from Turkey.  Many of our friends in the Inner West bought foam- rubber seating arrangements which came in ugly modules but thought of as quite ‘hip’ at the time. Clark Rubber never had that adventurous look about them as did King’s Disposals with huge knives and those massive lace-up genuine army boots…

As for my BSA rifle, I have a photo somewhere holding up a dead snake and also still remember the garbos coarse oaths early one morning dealing with a bin full of rabbits redolent with decay and maggots.

The era of adventurous shops seems to have disappeared.