Posts Tagged ‘rookwood’

A dangerous haircut.

July 18, 2017
IMG_0874Bowral Ducks

Bowral Ducks

It was suggested more than once to go and get my hair cut. ‘You are starting to look as if sleeping rough.’ This reference isn’t exactly an encouragement to go to the barber. I have often thought of sleeping ‘rough’. Over the last fortnight we watched two TV episodes of rich people experimenting with what seems to increasingly happen in Australia, homelessness.  A few TV people were assigned to imitate the lot of those unfortunate souls that are forced to sleep outside. What was lacking in the TV show of course was that those who did sleep outside for a few nights did this out of choice, and not out of necessity. The TV cameras followed them at all times and this made it all look a bit frivolous and silly. A kind of ‘Master-chef’ and it even copied the lining up of the participants in between the ‘sleeping rough’ episodes.

My idea of sleeping rough was awakened during our walk to the State library last year in the middle of summer. Martin Place in Sydney was full of the homeless sleeping rough but it had become a well organized ‘rough sleeping’. A kitchen had been set up and as far as I could see, the homeless made the best of a desperate situation.  There was hot food, tea and coffee, and most seemed to have reasonable shelter, either by small tents or overhanging awnings, sheltering them from rain.  It also had a book exchange for those vagrants with literary aspirations.  A most innovative idea. There existed an atmosphere of brothers/and sisters united in poverty and in spirit. Tenaciously they hung in there.

Martin Place of course is one of the most prestigious open squares in Sydney and millions of visitors walk through this lovely Town Square each year. It is surrounded by expensive shops and during lunch one can see smiling stock- brokers and Van Heusen shirt wearing criminal lawyers churning and belching their rich lunches down. It is indeed a spectacle of opposites in this Martin Place that the observant walker or tourist might well witness.

But…getting back to the impending hair-cut. I always go to the same barber. It is a franchise. You push a button and out comes a ticket telling your number in the queue and how much time will lapse before one gets the hair-cut. I was lucky and had to wait just twelve minutes giving me a chance to walk around my little local town-square, alas without homeless sleeping rough.

A solid girl was assigned to my head. I told her to try and envisage the state of my hair about eight weeks earlier and take it from there. I also told her to use comb nr 7 which gives the hair cutter some idea of preferred length of hair. Once I had taken out my hearing aids and taken off my glasses, peace and quiet reigned. I noticed she sniffled a little but otherwise she seemed a healthy woman and I felt confident my head to be in good hands.

As the girl with her cutting implements did the rounds she did suppress a few coughs and at one stage took herself off to a small backroom. I could hear her racking coughing loudly. On her return I put her at ease and told her that the winter is certainly giving people colds. A bit of a silly statement but without hearing aids I could not really risk engaging a conversation  that was destined to be difficult, especially when the poor girl was obviously having a bout of flu. I felt confident in my being risk-free with having taken the precaution of the yearly ‘flu-shot.’ At one stage and after another suppressed cough, I noticed her wiping a string of nasal expelled phlegm onto her black apron. I had quickly averted my eyes away from the mirror opposite me not wanting to further embarrass the situation.  She looked at me if I had noticed anything. I did not let on I witnessed this generous nasal expulsion.

I have now, and still am having, the worst flu episode ever. Totally Crook as Rookwood and am so full of lemon and honey, bees are buzzing around. What a bore and proof that flu shots are no guarantee against not getting a cold.

http://grammarist.com/usage/as-crook-as-rookwood/

 

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The Couple on the Train.

October 15, 2016

Almost There

Train travel is now almost done without rail employees. You can’t buy train tickets anymore. A few weeks ago we walked to the local train-station to try and travel to another station to pick up the grandsons. We hopefully went to the locket to order our tickets. The man behind the glass panel shook his head. ‘No way, tickets for the pensioners are now only available through ‘Opal’ ticketing system,’ he said. ‘If you don’t have Opal you have to pay full fare.’ ‘Fair enough,’ we answered. ‘Please, two returns to Campbelltown.’ ‘Oh, no again, you can’t buy tickets here.’ ‘You must buy from the machine near where you are standing.’ The full fare was $14.50 each. Normal pensioner tickets is $ 2.50 all day, no matter where you go to. The machine is complicated, at least for us, used to logic and straightforward paying with cash to a person and not a machine.

The really strange thing is that you can’t buy the Opal card at railway stations. You have to do that ‘on-line,’ or at certain News-agents or shops. I am proud to announce that I managed to achieve this electronic journey on-line without any assistance or nervous breakdown. Both Helvi and I now have an Opal Card tucked away in our wallets. We each have $20,- credit on it. The world is now our oyster and we can travel at any time by train. I wonder what happens to those credits when people cark it. I bet there are millions of dollars laying about from people whose last journey was the train to Rookwood. Feeling as ‘Crook as Rookwood’ is one of my most favourite expressions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rookwood_Cemetery_railway_line

Using Opal requires a form of tapping a pole each time getting on and off the train. No-one really checks if you have ticket. The poles all over Australia must store your identity and synchronises it with this Opal card which is in your name and linked to pensioner number. It also comes with its own pin number and password. Each time you tap the pole with your Opal card, the travel cost is deducted from the money that one has credited the Opel-Card with. Amazing technology, but what happens if you travel by train and walk past those poles? Does the pole do something? Do they take a photo? How does the pole know you haven’t tapped it?

We have as yet to try it out. I have seen the system in action. We watched people tapping the pole. It looks hilarious. I mean, who would have thought that normal adults, totally sane people, would get a card out and tap it against a steel post? The post doesn’t say or do anything. At least in supermarkets, the automated scanning cash registers give you a receipt and even are polite enough to thank you for having done the shopping. I always wait for the announcement, ‘Thank you for shopping at Woolworth, the Fresh Food people.’
I even answer, ‘no worries.’

Pardon me Madam; your Body Corporate is showing

July 19, 2012

Sometimes, it is true, storm clouds gather in Strata-Titled communities joined at the hips by the regulations of The Body Corporate. They say, and many historians agree, Australia really got on its own when land ownership was denoted by giving parcels of land ‘Title’. This is how the name of “real Estate” came about. I remember my father being very puzzled when, after arrival in 1956, he assiduously queried the name of ‘real estate agent’. Are their estate agents that are not ‘real’, was his logical Dutch question?  Apparently before ‘Title’ people just put pegs in the ground and claimed it as belonging to them. People squatted by putting down their swag between the pegs and went to work tilling the soil, had babies and went to sleep in between. The document of Title was called Torrens named after a pioneer of Title, Mr Robert Torrens. Robert lived to a ripe old age of 94 and is buried at Rookwood. It is claimed the last words he uttered, were, ‘ I am feeling as Crook as Rookwood.’

However, and this is the crux of this little piece, when many arrived and populations grew faster than Torrens Titles could accommodate, many wanted to share the same block of land on the one single title. This was first used by large Italian migrant groups. We all know that ‘en famille’ around the’ tavola’ and forever ‘en casa’ is what makes Italian lives tick and has so for thousands of years. Not for them the world of segregated privacy and gloomy darkness with the enforced separation of the Robert’s Torrens Title.

It was an extraordinary large Italian family who just all wanted to remain together on the one parcel of land but living at close quarters. The name of this very large family was Signore et Signora, ‘Strata’. After seven years of marriage they had nine children. Both papa and mamma were very busy and fertile.  The family included many uncles and aunties, many of indefinable ages. They were born so many years ago, they simply never thought of the passing years. They just wanted to be able to see any new bambinas and sorellis at any given time of the day. A beehive of life and birth with the occasional death celebrated at Rookwood with copious amounts of Chianti with lots of calamari and prawns. It has to be said though, in respect for those dearly departed; many aunties would dress up in black. Some had also forgotten who they were mourning for, but that’s how Italian families functioned best. It was all a bit of a tradition and many had died so long ago. Mourning and feasting were always very close, almost the same. Both involved the intake of good food and plenty of it.

That’s how it was around the late nineteen fifties or so. They called their multi families property, the Strata en Casa.  Officials that visited this large community of Italian migrants felt it needed a more formal and Anglo name and decided on Strata Title. And that’s how the term ‘Strata Title’ was born. It was incorporated into statutes and made into a stern law. Soon many communities followed suit.

However, and we all know when ‘however’ is used, it is usually followed by a disclaimer or worse, some kind of dreaded bit of news. When the Strata Title was used and incorporated by those not used to communal life in order to get a foot-hold in a cheaper form of ‘real Estate’, (are their Estates that are not ‘real’?) it now is a “Title” thick with possible stirrings of discontent. Some people do not hold to common values and shared Strata ownership and insist on doing Torrens Title things. In other words, they want to do individual things on shared communal property.

Many annual Body Corporate meetings are now steeped in anger and misgivings about differences between both forms of Title. Both Mr Robert Torrens and the Family Strata used to live harmoniously together.

Not anymore now. Or so it seem and it has come to pass.

The Train to Rookwood

February 9, 2011

The Train to RookwoodPosted on February 10, 2011 by gerard oosterman

The Train to Rookwood. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/37682.html

The Kerry O’Brian’s interview with Woody Allen last Wednesday night on the 7.30 report would have to be one of ABC’s best coups. Woody’s interviews are collector’s items as he is notoriously shy of publicity. His answers to Kerry’s questions were quirky, witty and to the point. His best was towards the end when he seemed to reject the notion that getting older equates to the getting of wisdom. On the questions of why we are here and what the point of life was, he remains modestly unsure. Whatever he gained through all the years, he would gladly have exchanged it all for; quote, ’wiping 35 years of the calendar’, adding with a distant look, that he would probably make the same mistakes all over again.

This might have been a bit tongue in cheek but made me think how much profit there is in getting older. Surely, there has to be some reward for having survived all the misery and sadness of having lived through so much uncertainty and the many difficulties. It is not unreasonable to assume that one becomes better with the passing of years at coping with some of the misfortunes and events that could, with foresight, have been avoided, and that the benefits of getting older begets us the wisdom to not repeat errors and mistakes into the future.

We plod on with expectations of improvements, and hope that with age, we will undoubtedly get rewards for the courage, determination and resilience in having cobbled something out of our lives. When enough time has lapsed we can have the luxury of reflectively taking stock and do the accounts, and hopefully find out, that, by and large, we stayed the course and that we had achieved the things that we sat out to reach with the positives having outweighed the negatives.

When young, and bursting with enthusiasm and raging hormones, we recklessly hurled ourselves into the future, taking and accepting risks, relationships and partners all at once and with wild abandonment. We brazenly and bravely fought to make our mark. Nothing would stop us and we blindly believed that hard work and enterprise would ensure a stake in prosperity and much goodness, not just for ourselves, but also for our offspring and others. Deposits would be made on house and car, schools for kids would be booked years in advance, and inexorably with the passing of a few more years, we would reap rewards by climbing into even better and bigger houses with more bathrooms now and larger cars with DVD player hooked from the back seat for kids to watch Shrek when driving somewhere and anywhere.

Did we also not take in our stride the misfortune of family life gone off at a tangent or even astray, with lives, like forgotten letters in the drawer, damaged or lost through accident, illness and inherited gene, or the scourge of modern age, addiction to evil substance?

With the advance of years beyond the half century, we fully expect that wisdom and experience will guide us to calmer waters and ease us into a nice and comfortable latter part or even, with the luck of robust health and benefit of not smoking anymore, to old age. We paid our dues and mortgage man is now finally sated. The credit card we will keep on sailing with, just in case of the unforseen, the failing of car or broken and worn washer-dryer, a trip to Venice or even Chile’s Santiago.

Having steamed through that post mortgage, and for some, post marriage years, we have now travelled to the beginning of an advanced age with the cheerful Newsletter and Senior’s card in the post. The Senior Newsletter has holidays for the advanced seniors at Noosa and a plethora of advertisements for those handy battery operated electric little carriages with shopping tray at the back. Are we to zoom in and out of shopping  centres soon, using ramps up and down? With the sheer numbers appearing on footpaths now, it won’t be long and there could be outbreaks of motorized wheelchair-rage, could it not?

I suppose there has been a major drop-out of readers now. Who wants to get ahead that far?

Please, don’t get impatient. Just hang in here for another eighty or so of words, when at age eighty, we are almost there, indeed, we have arrived. How did we fare? It is time now to have one more go at something, perhaps golf for the very fit or, dread the thought, bowling with cricket gear all in pristine white and with men wearing neatly pressed pantaloons but suspiciously bulging when bending to bowl!

Once more, we listen hear and hum the forlorn ‘Le piano du Pauvre’.

                                                                   I am nothing

                                                                      I exist 

                                                         Only in the generous eyes of others

Somehow, with The Train to Rookwood now at station, we have so far stumbled, bumbled but stoutly plotted on. Time has finally arrived, with casket to carriage, no time for regret.

                                                                      Death

                                                                   Inaccessible

                                                                  Even to memory

                                                               Appears and goes away

                                                                   With a scull

                                                                    For a nod

The Train to Rookwood.

Poems by friend Bernard Durrant.