Posts Tagged ‘Library’

And now for the good News

February 24, 2017

 

Almost ThereThe last few posts have been the work of the curmudgeon supreme. Jerimiah seems to have  reached a new level in delight and joy, highlighting the never ending stream of all that is going wrong. Sorry for the bleakness, but somebody had to do it. I don’t know why I watch the news. Relentless Trump and Turnbull. Neck on neck trying to outdo each other in a race to the bottoms-up, dehumanising their patch. Surely, there is something more cheerful to write about. Those grim purple faced bishops fronting the Royal Commission. Footage of one eminent church leader dipping a large feathered brush in Holy water sprinkling the congregation. Oh, such folly of voodoo and chicken feathers dressed with mitres and in flowing robes. Are there Technical tafe courses in becoming agnostic?  I am sure many are now queuing up.We need many more doubting Thomas’s.

 

The good news came from our National Library of Australia in Canberra.  ” Dear Gerard Oosterman.” “We would be DELIGHTED to receive a print copy of your book  ‘Almost there.’ Our records showed that this title is now published.”

Can you believe it? All this apart from both my books also having been entered in two of the State Library literary competitions. I am so happy that, after I posted the book at the Post office, I promptly shouted myself a nice  micro-wave heated up sausage roll. The word ‘delighted’ really did it. It was about time somebody got delighted.

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I walked with my fat sausage roll to a park bench in Corbett Gardens, Bowral. The same park where the three elderly sisters were hit by  lightning  last week.  I sat down with Milo. He looked keenly at my poly-styrene package holding the sausage roll. It was a mini celebration. I would like you all to share in my joy.

I gave Milo about half my treat.

It was so lovely and good.

A long walk around Sydney on a hot Day with my Books.

January 14, 2017

new-cover-1704-front-big-book-cover-18april

We caught this special train at 9.20 am from Bowral. Bowral is a bit more than a hundred kilometres from Sydney. The seats had been pre-booked Online. An experience on its own. How people can ever get on a train without owning a computer is now in question. A good friend told me it is a normal thing to do. “Lots of normal people book online now,” she said, adding, “if I can do it so can you.” She seems to regard me normal, which is reassuring.

I reckon many people don’t have computer skills nor want to book online. Many ‘normal’ people might well expect a train ticket to be sold at train stations. Apparently, we were punished for booking online and charged normal fare while entitled to a ‘senior’ fare. We are not normal fare payers. We are seniors. But let’s not be chagrined over such little details.  After we found our seat numbers synchronising with our booked tickets we leant back luxuriating in soft adjustable seats with arm rests. With some fiddling we also managed to find foot-rests elevating our feet from the floor. The train had toilets. Always handy for seniors. You know how it is?

The whole journey was a great experience and well worth the extra expense. Every ten minutes the train-driver would give some information about the buffet car serving coffee, tea and food together with expected time arrivals at Sydney. After arrival I retrieved my luggage trolley with the books that were booked into the State Library for two literary awards,  a $ 25 000. Memoir/Biography award, and one $10.000. Humour writing award.

We decided to walk, knowing we would be in for a challenge. At 11am, it was already a scorcher. What the heck. We carried water, books and wore good shoes. What more could you want for a trans- city walk? Helvi, did not want to catch buses. “Why not take it easy, we have all day. The return train is booked leaving 18.12. Let’s make it a holiday,” she said. I wasn’t against this. Suggestions are generally not contested. Helvi has a knack of making friendly suggestions that are unrefusable.  So, off we went. My trolley with the hopeful books had wheels and I had my RM William boots ( see previous article photo).

The first couple of hundred metres took us along a large park fence. It is a well known park which extends towards the beginning of the rows and rows of Sydney’s high-rise buildings, mixture of offices and apartments with shops underneath. We were surprised that along this park fence were stretched out so many tarpaulins, tents and  rickety constructions, housing homeless people.  Even at  Central Station we noticed the dishevelled homeless stretched out on the marble tiled floor, heads on  shopping bags covered by rags. There were always some, but now…so many. Not just young men but also elderly folk and women. I expect with this fanatic cut back on welfare and pensions by our government, this sad army will only grow bigger. I wonder how many of those sleeping rough are displaced train conductors having become superfluous, replaced by steel Opal Posts?

I am not sure, was it the rising heat or the sight of so much homeless despair or the combination, but I was feeling nauseous and told Helvi. I confessed that I needed to see a nice toilet. “Oh dear, she said, I knew it! That’s the trouble with you. I can’t go anywhere with you without you looking and needing a toilet. You should not have had those two strong coffees.”

I do  confess suffering from intestinal hurry. A condition that calls for those familiar with it to always keep a close watch on the availability of toilets. The closer the better! I have an American friend who is the same. He has gained an intimate and formidable knowledge of all public toilets within twenty kilometres of Central Sydney. He is thinking of writing a guide book on the subject. He might well end up winning a literature award. Those sort of odd books are much liked.

After scanning the road ahead I noticed a pub. I asked Helvi if she would like a beer. “Why,  she said? Can’t you just go to use the pub’s toilet without feeling obliged to order something? Just go in there and be brave.  Many normal people use toilets, just go in there with your little suitcase-trolley. I’ll come and look after it.”  She has a point! I do tend to be over obliging, crawling perhaps.

On my return I told Helvi that the taps were very unique. “They start running without touching them. Amazing technology, I enthused. “I am not interested in your toilet taps talk, Gerard. Let’s go.” We continued at a far more relaxed pace now that the toilet issue had been dealt with. I fancied people might well take me and my trolley for a barrister with a large volume of Court Applicants’ Affidavits and Responses, on my way to the Family Court, dealing with a very litigious contentious but lucrative divorce case.

I did wonder if we would meet other literary award hopefuls? Half way, we took a rest. I ordered a vegetarian sandwich for Helvi while I had a salmon bagel. Both were nice including two latte coffees.. We asked a woman directions to the Library. She surprised us by saying, she too was on her way to the Library. However, she did not have a trolley. That cut her out as a competitor! With rather steep application fees plus the cost of providing five hard copies of the book plus ISBN numbers might put restriction on some writers. Many an aspiring author often ends up in despair or poverty. Worse, one could imagine it a distinct possibility to end up in a tent in the park as well. A yellowing tearstained manuscript blowing in hot wind.

This is now getting a bit long. But, no worries.

It will be continued.

A Country Town ( Goulburn)

November 3, 2016

Almost There

Most local people would know Goulburn as the town that holds a high security prison. The notorious mass killer Ivan Milat is serving his sentence there together with other high profile miscreants.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpacker_murders

Please try and read the above link. It is almost as good as a Wallander Mankell thriller.

In its heyday Goulburn was the hub of Australia’s wool industry. Australia from the early eighteen nineties till the nineteen seventies was ‘riding on the sheep’s back.’ One of its main export income was wool. With cheaper cotton and synthetics entering the market, wool became much less competitive and growing wool now is a minor part of agriculture. A reminder of this wool Empire of Goulburn is a very large concrete sheep near the Sydney-Melbourne highway turnoff to Goulburn. Inside this large sheep one can buy Chinese made wool trinkets, whistles, scarfs, and Australian made socks as well as aboriginal artefacts.

Goulburn as a result of the collapse of wool became a town looking for its former but lost glory. We bought a farm in 1996 not far from this town, about 20 kms away. At that time one could have bought a 4 bedroom freestanding house for about $350,000.- and today the same house is still selling for $350,000.- It’s a beautiful but a stagnant rural town. I am sure it would provide an amazing opportunity for Sydney siders to cash up on their $2 million house and whoop it up in Goulburn. It houses an excellent library and an even better Art Gallery. In winter it can be a bit cold and bracing, but with central heating and a roof full of solar panelling it would be a most pleasant town to live in. It also has a very nice ‘Workers Club and RSL.’ ( Returned Soldiers Club)

A few days ago we went to re-visit our former country town. We usually like to go back to past lives. Reminiscing about places and lives of the past is the prerogative of growing old, especially while it is still possible. One never knows when the time will arrive the mobility scooter or ‘Eventide Care-Home’ beckons!

After arrival, and being hungry we popped into the Workers Club. I ordered curried sausages with peas and mashed potatoes. Helvi ordered roast chicken with vegetables. Both were terrible. I never thought that mash and sausages could be so failing. Helvi’s chicken was some kind of muscled thigh that belonged to a very scrawny old chook looking for a long gone rooster. My curried sausages were chopped up bits of something drowning in what I assumed was a curried flavoured sludge sobbing to be rescued. The peas were absent or fled somewhere else. The mash was lumpy.

In Australia we are the world champions in gambling. All clubs provide subsidised cheap meals paid for by the poker machine addicts. You can see them on the way to the toilets. Elderly or not so elderly people, transfixed by the ghoulish lights of the poker machines. Sometimes plastic shopping bags next to the players on the floor. A sad sight, if ever there was. After a couple of beers drowning the half-eaten lunches, we left for a solid walk around Goulburn.

On the walk back to the car we came across a man sprawled out on the pavement. We had walked past him previously and noticed his dishevelled appearance, but he was seated on one of those updated modern square public seating arrangements surrounded by pretty greenery between the pavement and the road. He must have slumped off his seat. People walked past this man. We stopped and thought of finding out what might be the matter. He looked to be in his mid thirties and appeared motionless. I asked if he was alright but no response. I then decided to phone triple zero for emergency. By that time a few passers-by had stopped too.

As I was giving information to the emergency number, the man moved his hand and showed therefore to be alive. He picked himself up and mumbled a few words. The emergency phone lady decided to cancel the ambulance. The man went back to his previous seat and grabbed his tobacco that had spilled on the pavement. He mumbled something that he was alright and no help was needed. We felt sorry. How does it get to that state? He would have been a healthy young man once. Did he take some tablets or did he have a health problem?

We hope to have a better visit next time. Perhaps we will give clubs a miss seeing that gambling gives us cheap meals. A bit like being hypocritical of an industry that causes so much harm.

‘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.