Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Putin for President?

June 19, 2017

untitledPutin and Oliver Stone

Last night’s TV watching is what I could do with every night. Forget about all those Master Chefs or Building UK modern houses, or even those new  incomprehensible English crime shows, which are so lost in loud music and serious and significant sideway cast glances by  main actors, that any attention the viewer had intended to give, is soon surrendered over to despair. The Putin- Oliver Stone interview was rivetingly watchable. Not a stir-fry in sight nor a double glazed window. A different kettle of fish.

Of course, Oliver Stone is not known for loving the Republican side of US politics. His keen-eyed  movies and scripts never fail to impress those who are  inclined to be cynical about much of what the US is purporting to stand for. i.e. ” US style  Democracy.” A short version of which is, ‘if you are not with us you are against us,’ and we will hunt/bomb you down mercilessly, and find ways to fill up more of our privately run prisons. I suspect that Oliver Stone might well have been put under scrutiny in the US more than once.

There is a bit of a story attached to Oliver Stone. We actually met him many years ago. Our daughter was working for RoadShow which at the time of the mid eighties promoted and featured upcoming movies. Our daughter, Susanna, was charged with people associated with a particular upcoming movie, to be looked after. This often included booking accommodation for interstate or overseas people associated with a newly released movie. It was a demanding job but she was very good at it. During the mid eighties, one of those overseas guests was Oliver Stone who had just finished making ‘El Salvador.’

We had already seen  Midnight Express of which the script was written by Oliver Stone in the late seventies. At the time that movie was already controversial and even banned in Turkey. With the arrival of El Salvador in 1986, his skill as both scriptwriting and film producer were already well established. We we were not al all familiar with many films but we did go to movies occasionally. Our daughter managed to sometimes get free tickets and so it was with the  showing of El Salvador at a theatre in Paddington, of which I have forgotten it’s name. Perhaps it was called The Dandy, or some similar silly name. Both our daughter and us decided to see that movie on a weekday. A normal day.

As we queued up for the tickets, Susanna was poked in the ribs by someone behind her. When she turned around, her gaze was met by Oliver Stone whom she apparently had me at the Roadshow office several times already.  She laughed and after a bit of a talk with him, introduced us to  him. “These are my parents, Helvi and Gerard”, she must have said. The exact details of word order might well have been a bit different.  It could just as easily have been; “This is Oliver Stone, these are my parents.” It has been so many years ago! We shook hands, he had large hands.

Anyway, we sauntered in. ( ‘sauntering in,’ is what people do, slowly entering cinemas or church services but not train carriages. We ‘enter or push into’ rail carriages. The movie was very terrifying of how things can go so badly wrong from one moment to the other. We exited the cinema in a haze of incredulity. How could that have happened?  We did not see Oliver Stone ever again, except through his movies. He must have got out earlier. He perhaps wanted to find out how his movie was received in Australia with a different audience.

The interview with Putin is what really made me ponder the pity of it all. Why not have a Putin for US president? Such erudite reasoning. Oh, those direct answers. No aggrandisement nor pursing of lips. And above all, his understanding of the US. At one stage seemingly knowing more about US trade deficits than even Oliver Stone.

On the other hand, Oliver Stone does enjoy the freedom of critical  exposing the US in his movies. We know so little about Russia, much of it mangled by US propaganda. I was in Russia for a short period and loved it.

Even so,  a Putin for US president would be a way forward compared with the present one.

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The marvel of the life-giving cabbage roll.

June 6, 2017

untitled

It seems the privilege of the old to shamelessly bore endlessly the young with tales of the past. We already know of my parental desperations when claiming not to know ‘where on earth did Gerard come from?’ It is of little consolation now that my little boy search for my real parents by scanning sea’s horizon did not bear much results. No boat with my real parents ever appeared. I just had to reconcile myself with going home with wet shoes and accept the ones who at times seemed to disown me.

Another one of those memories refusing to lay down are those of a more edible kind. The war-time cabbage. I am here now because of the humble cabbage. Towards the end of the war it was the most covetous food item in my birth-city of Rotterdam. Even today, when I try and light the gas stove, the smell of the escaping unlit gas reminds me of war and my mother’s search for food. About the only food that could be had, if one was lucky, were cabbages.

It was during pensively resting in my fauteuil yesterday that one of those fleeting memories came to the befuddled fore. Heaven knows why they appear? I decided to try and make cabbage rolls. Helvi too became quite enthusiastic.  Some month ago there was a rather elaborate Baltic & Polish food sale on at Aldi’s. We discovered a huge jar of pickled cabbage leaves and a culinary inspiration got to us suddenly. We took it home and put the jar to rest amongst the Dutch Herrings and Italian tinned tomatoes. Occasionally I would stare at this jar of cabbage leaves and would proffer to make something of it, but both decided to relegate this delicacy for consumption to a future date. The cabbage leaves all looked so pale and withered all drowned in the vinegar.  I was happy to notice that the vinegar was an honest marinade and just that, and not the dreaded Balsamic version. The best thing it had going for it was the fact it was imported from Macedonia. Macedonia has such an exotic almost melodic ring to it. All those vowels.

Of course, cabbages is what used to make the world go round. From China through Russia and Europe, including Great Britain. What would England be without their beloved cold cabbage, consumed while standing up in a draft? The Koreans make the five-star Kimchee. A soul food if ever there was.

One only has to visit the old Eastern European towns and cities, where through the centuries of cabbage-food cooking, the very stucco, bricks and ancient cellars of the streets are impregnated with this pungent smell of the cabbage. Who has not walked through old Vienna or Budapest not to smell this delectable vegetable permeated into the very soul of these so musical societies. The very waltzes of Johann Strauss were  conceived after generous ingestion of cabbage.

So, yesterday I finally opened this large jar. Helvi remembered she made the humble cabbage roll many years ago. It is made from raw minced beef mixed with whatever one wants to mix together with a handful of boiled rice. She urged me not to overdo it with spices. ‘Just try and be a bit subtle this time, don’t muck it up,’ she urged kindly, but with some authority and deep husband knowledge.

I followed her urgings but when I momentarily and in a latent fit of wild adventurism thought of Kimchee I chucked in a small quantity of chilli flakes. The whole mixture was then kindly wrapped into the jar-released cabbage leaves. It filled the entire baking dish with two neat rows of nine each, totalling a rather large quantity of eighteen rolls.  With its red-coloured tomato marinade it looked very beautiful and enticing. Enough for an entire Austrian regiment.

After baking and allowed ‘to rest’ I made a nice dish of mashed potatoes and spinach. It was a nice dish but the chilli made the rolls too hot and spicy. I should not have added it. Helvi heartily agreed that I had mucked it up a bit.

‘When will you ever learn to contain yourself and not overdo things?‘ She said, adding. ‘Where do you come from?’

 

Peace and quiet for overwrought Seniors.

July 31, 2016
Our Pizza oven at Riven dell.

Our Pizza oven at Rivendell.

With all the shenanigans on the political and abusive side of life in Australia last week, I am really ready for garlic prawns or a good solid potato bake, perhaps even both. The prawns as an entrée and the potato bake with just some tuna in between the thinly sliced potato layers with leeks, and some sun-dried tomatoes might just do the trick. Well, not strictly sun-dried. This our last jar of home bottled ‘pizza oven’ dried, not strictly ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes. It just sounds better. Let me explain.

While finally now on our last jar of those sun-dried tomatoes, it brought back memories. We left our farm in 2010. I should now heave, perhaps with a sigh, and question where all the years have gone? That’s what many people over seventy do. Don’t they? Agile readers might well remember the large pizza oven I built while living on the farm. It was huge, and one could at a pinch, even have slept in it, as well as making pizzas, although not at the same time. I would not be the first one to sleep in a pizza oven. In Russia, many a husband after coming home drunk would be refused the share of the matrimonial bed by his stout and possibly very formidable wife, and told to sleep off his stupor on top of the stove instead.

The first attempt at building the pizza oven was disastrous. I underpinned the arched brickwork with plastic tubing while laying the bricks. The mud-mortar was nice, with the cement, lime and bush-sand mixture of the right sloppy consistency. It sat nicely on the trowel. A joy to work with. As the arched brickwork reached towards the middle from both sides I noticed a slight but ominous wobble. I should have stopped then. Helvi and our daughter were sipping tea watching me at work. I felt justified in being proud. It could well have been the reason why I continued on, despite the structure with its wobble clearly telling me to stop and let it dry out till the next day.

We all know that arches are very strong. Look at Venice, nothing but arches where-ever one looks, from bridges to buildings. Even some people when ageing, form an arched back, allowing them to go on, despite life’s tragedies or because of it. It might have been my foolish pride in front of Helvi and our daughter (sipping tea in the Northern sun) that made me go on. It might also have been the challenge that, if I could reach the middle and close the gap between both arches coming together, there would not have been a chance in the world it could ever collapse. An arch in brickwork is almost indestructible

Alas, hundreds of bricks went a flying. The plastic tubes buckled. My immediate reaction was that of total dismay. I worked for days, cleaning the old bricks I had scavenged elsewhere. I had poured the concrete floor base on which were built the walls that would carry another concrete base that had to carry the actual pizza arched oven totally enclosed on four sides but allowing a small door for fire-wood to enter and the pizzas to be cooked. The secret of a good oven is the total insulation of all the walls including the floor. My pizza oven had two layers with generous insulation between each layer. Even the chimney consisted of inner and outer stainless steel pipes. Helvi thought it was a work of art. And it was.

After the collapse, the initial moments of dismay turned into unstoppable laughter. I knew Helvi was genuinely and lovingly concerned, but our combined love for the ridiculous always takes over. What was one to do? Call an ambulance or the cops? Just ride with it, was the only answer. I got stuck in building proper formwork the next day, and re-built the arches again.

It was a great pizza oven. It would be used for pizzas, roasts,  sour-dough breads and drying those delicious small tomatoes that just about grew anywhere.

A lovely memory.

Children, tripping over and business. ( Auto-biography)

July 21, 2015
The flooded creek

The flooded creek

After we settled in King’s Cross there was a flurry of marriages in the Oosterman clan. My friend Bernard married a Japanese girl and went to live in Japan. I continued with the painting business on my own.  One of my brothers married a girl from Russia but born in Peru, another from Polish background, my sister married a man born in Germany with just one who married an Australian. I of course married a lovely Finn. Apart from my brother who married an Aussie and has died since, we all are still married to our first love.

They were busy times all racing to get home and hearth together as well as bonnie babies. There were nappies and the smell of them. Toys on the floor. A variety of bassinettes and other bouncing contraptions that we would easily trip over.  They were the years when tripping over was normal and totally safe. Of course now a fall could easily result in an ambulance racing over to lift you on a stretcher and to a hospital, nurse putting on the gloves and a worried doctor looking you over. I haven’t as yet reached that stage yet, but it will come about!  Helvi urges me to take a firm hold of the handrail coming down from the computer upstairs. It pays to be careful! I sometimes wish that recklessness could continue. It was such a part of being young. Reckless and foolish. Now we play it safe and pretend to be wise, but really just give in to ageing, play it secure, getting old, sip our coffee and remind each other to take medicine. We have learnt our lesson.

It seems odd that when we were young and had a life ahead, we were reckless, took our chances when at the same time so much was at stake. One fatal mistake could easily result in having to pay for it over the rest of your natural life. Yet, now that we (I am) are old and with our lives more behind than in front we have far more solid reasons to be reckless. Throw caution to the wind. What is there to lose? What is holding us back?  Do a bungy jump or fight a crocodile, live in Bali or Amsterdam. We might just, with luck,  squeeze in a couple of years more or so. Of course many of the old do amazing things still, but by and large we have become more cautious and play it safe. I never ever thought I would reach that stage. Yet it is has come about.  Even so, we still have no insurance of any kind except third party property car insurance which I suppose is proof of some lingering recklessness. harking back to youthful risk taking.  I mean, does one not get buried without having any money.  Does it matter? Mozart got buried in a pauper’s grave. Perhaps, that is just bundied about to encourage budding composers to keep on trying, regardless of fame or fortune.

But going back (to those years of recklessness),  and having settled down it came about that families were sprouting up all over the place. Our first was born within a couple of years after arrival in Sydney. Our second daughter two years after that, delivered by the same doctor named Holt. I renewed previous contacts and gained quickly new jobs. Some years later, I won some really substantial contracts including the painting of the extensions to the NSW Art Gallery and the International Flight kitchen at Sydney’s airport. I tried as well to keep on with painting pictures and even had, optimistically, bought a huge  fifty metres by two metres roll of raw cotton canvas together with varied sizes of stretchers on which to span and make canvasses ready to paint.

I was an optimist and Helvi the supporting wife and mother…They were very good years,

many good years were yet to come.

Lamb cutlets and Bok Choy.

April 18, 2015
My parents wedding photo.

My parents wedding photo.

Don’t ever make the mistake of calling lamb cutlets, lamb chops. There is a big difference. We used to like both and didn’t really mind one above the other and never were guilty of bias when it came to eating lamb. Some readers might now well call it quits. I understand and have full sympathy when some of you object to eating animals. I would too, but have found giving up eating meat even harder than smoking and I really loved smoking! A meek excuse hereby offered is that we haven’t eaten lamb cutlets for years. I have to confess it wasn’t due for concern of lambs but more for the concern of money. Lamb became more costly than smoked trout or caviar with Finlandia Vodka.

Sorry about inserting yet another Sibelius’ Finlandia but that’s what you get contemplating lamb cutlets. A beautiful piece of music that I cannot listen to without shedding tears.

I wonder if Australian lamb compares with the Dutch butter mountain some years ago? The Dutch had conquered the world market in butter. It was so successful that other countries  gave up on butter and despaired of their dairy industries. Cows were sold off and lush paddocks were left fallow. Farmers instead went into cabbages,  turnips and many took to the bottle. Stout buxom wives resorted to locking bedroom doors, forcing husbands to sleep off their drunken stupor on top of slow combustion wood stoves or in the hay loft with languid but faithful old horses. Poverty was knocking at many a dreaded midnight farmer’s door. There were scuffles at local town-halls and Russian dignitaries at world conferences were pelted with frozen Dutch butter.

And then, like magic it resolved itself. The Dutch had become so intoxicated with success they went mad making so much butter, so plentiful, it became a butter mountain, the price dropped! An oversupply of butter that no one wanted. (A bit like the iron ore in Australia at present). In order to keep selling this huge oversupply they sold off butter at a loss and compensated somewhat by  increasing the local price of butter in Holland. But…nothing is simple. Hordes of Dutch would now drive to Russia and buy the cheap subsidised Dutch butter, fill up their car- boots and drive back, all snug with having overcome the exorbitant prices now charged for their own butter in Holland.

Years ago in Australia lamb was as cheap as chips. Farmers were not worried because the wool was really the money earner. Then came synthetics and the market collapsed. The logical answer was selling lamb to eat. Soon shipload after shipload of lamb was sold overseas. The locals soon noticed a quad doubling of price. Lamb cutlets are sold now on par with a rare Penfold’s Hermitage wine or a pair of manacled  Diesel jeans.

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My granddad painting while smoking his pipe. His wife in left bottom corner.

Today I noticed lamb cutlets almost at the due date at half price.  I snapped up two packets and barbequed them a couple of hours ago with bok- choy and spuds. A really lovely meal. It might well be another couple of years before we have saved enough for another lamb cutlet or two.

Nothing is easy but we all keep going the best we can!

Of Sardines between St Petersburg and UK’s Whitby

April 8, 2015
The Hermitage

The Hermitage

The week in St Petersburg was somewhat marred by a bout of intestinal hurry I suffered within minutes of entering The Hermitage Museum.  The origin  of this was perplexing as the night before we had enjoyed a terrific meal of genuine Russian fare. The borscht was part of it together with potato dumplings drowned in a rich sauce of red wine with lots of bay leaves, sage and pepper. As a side dish we had piroshkies.

Our dinner was very interesting in that, apart from the delicious food, it included a large Russian wedding party which intermittently  in between eating and imbibing copious Vodka would repeatedly shout gorko, gorko which actually means ‘bitter, bitter’ but bitter would only cease if the groom and bride would get up an make bitter sweet in a long-time kiss and more kiss. This would happen every ten minutes or so. The noise was terrific and soon the bitter vodka was made sweet. The bride looked lovely and very happy.

But back to this annoying intestinal hurry the day after and inside The Hermitage.. After asking for toilet directions they kept pointing towards the distance. Anyone who has been inside the Hermitage would know it takes about a week to walk from beginning to end. I did not have that much time so I started running through gilded room through gilded room. I lost care and interest. Monets, Manets, Gauguins were rushed past. Things were percolating madly to unbearable levels. I was in great panic. I remember the sad look on  Rembrandt’s The return of The Prodigal Son, the father’s eyes following me as I ran past. The moments of such great importance now  in total avoidance and ignorance of the world’s greatest art. Can you believe it?

Whitby? Captain Cook's cottage

Whitby? Captain Cook’s cottage

Final, triumph…the toilet is in sight. It was as huge as the rest of this museum.  The reader would know that Russian communism at that time was in flux but had as yet not changed with holding on to having full employment. A large seated lady overseeing the comings and goings in this huge toilet was part of this full employment. Ladies seated on chairs were everywhere in Russian society. The toilet I was in did not have a door or perhaps not a functioning door. I don’t know or remember if all the toilet cubicles were like that but mine was not door inclusive. I could not care less, I was so happy. Afterwards I calmly sauntered back and took some time to atone to The Prodigal Son  for my strange hurried behaviour, all was forgiven. The Monet’s looked so peaceful now too.

All good things come to past as so did my Russian trip. The time for departure to London had come. We all said goodbye and I made my way to the airport to fly back to Moscow and from there connect with a flight to London. Alas, the flight was delayed. Aeroflot was apologetic but made good with a ravishing lunch dish of freshly grilled sardines and salad. Butterflied sardines deeply grilled are my favourite. Soon after the sardines we took off and within an hour or so landed at Moscow. The connecting flight to London again was not forthcoming. I suppose with Russia in political flux or even without flux, patience gets rewarded. Soon a lunch was provided for the traveller. I was somewhat surprised to again be given the grilled sardines. They weren’t the last ones!

When we were finally put on board to London and dinner arrived soon. I had already enjoyed a couple of very fine Georgian white wines. As the food trolley slowly made its way towards my seat a familiar waft came towards me. You guess right, sardines again. I could only surmise a rich Russian oligarch  had gone long on the sardine option market and was forced to take the stock of a hundreds of tonnes of sardines at a loss. This loss was now shared by putting the whole of Russia on sardines including passengers on Aeroflot.

I arrived at Heathrow’s airport and was met by an Australian friend who took me to a house of a Lord and book-publisher at Shepherd Bush. Life can be very strange, even stranger than fiction. Who could imagine I would sleep in an English Lord’s house being full of sardines?

Robyn Hood Bay.

Robyn Hood Bay.

An apology to Mr Putin. (food for thought)

September 5, 2014

imagesCees Hamelink

http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/25981/53/

“Dear Mr. President Putin,

Please accept our apologies on behalf of a great many people here in the Netherlands for our Government and our Media. The facts concerning MH17 are twisted to defame you and your country.

We are powerless onlookers, as we witness how the Western Nations, led by the United States, accuse Russia of crimes they commit themselves more than anybody else. We reject the double standards that are used for Russia and the West. In our societies, sufficient evidence is required for a conviction. The way you and your Nation are convicted for ‘crimes’ without evidence, is ruthless and despicable.

You have saved us from a conflict in Syria that could have escalated into a World War. The mass killing of innocent Syrian civilians through gassing by ‘Al-­‐Qaeda’ terrorists, trained and armed by the US and paid for by Saudi Arabia, was blamed on Assad. In doing so, the West hoped public opinion would turn against Assad, paving the way for an attack on Syria.

Not long after this, Western forces have built up, trained and armed an ‘opposition’ in the Ukraine, to prepare a coup against the legitimate Government in Kiev. The putschists taking over were quickly recognized by Western Governments. They were provided with loans from our tax money to prop their new Government up.

The people of the Crimea did not agree with this and showed this with peaceful demonstrations. Anonymous snipers and violence by Ukrainian troops turned these demonstrations into demands for independence from Kiev. Whether you support these separatist movements is immaterial, considering the blatant Imperialism of the West.

Russia is wrongly accused, without evidence or investigation, of delivering the weapons systems that allegedly brought down MH17. For this reason Western Governments claim they have a right to economically pressure Russia.

We, awake citizens of the West, who see the lies and machinations of our Governments, wish to offer you our apologies for what is done in our name.
It’s unfortunately true, that our media have lost all independence and are just mouthpieces for the Powers that Be. Because of this, Western people tend to have a warped view of reality and are unable to hold their politicians to account.

Our hopes are focused on your wisdom. We want Peace. We see that Western Governments do not serve the people but are working towards a New World Order. The destruction of sovereign nations and the killing of millions of innocent people is, seemingly, a price worth paying for them, to achieve this goal.

We, the people of the Netherlands, want Peace and Justice, also for and with Russia.
We hope to make clear that the Dutch Government speaks for itself only. We pray our efforts will help to diffuse the rising tensions between our Nations.

Sincerely,

Professor Cees Hamelink “

The Club

August 23, 2013

rare-rump-steak-with-radish-HERO-ffa13568-faa6-4361-8c4c-ee9488d73b71-0-472x310
The Club

Most clubs are now gambling dens. Forget Raffles of Singapore or the Kurhaus of the Dutch Scheveningen, they played Baccarat and Écarté then.
Mischa Elman en Wladimir Horowitz, Richard Tauber, Lucienne Boyer, Greta Keller, Marie Dubas, Maurice Chevalier, Herbertvon Karajan, La Argentina, Duke Ellington, Ray Ventura,
Bela Bartok,Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet, George Brassens, Maria Callas, Marlène Dietrich with last but not least the Rolling Stones, are some that performed in The Kurhaus till about 1965.

Clubs are all populated by spinning wheels and flashing lights now and we play the poker-machine. Participants sit grim faced behind those flashing electronic machines. They feed money in them as if there is no tomorrow. For many there is no tomorrow. The tomorrow has been fed into the machines. The plastic shopping bag with food is all that some of them will (hopefully) come home with.

Lately clubs are advertising that they, more than anyone else, are encouraging ‘problem gamblers’ to seek counseling. What the clubs are less enthusiastic about is minimizing the number of poker machines and/or limit players money withdrawals from their ATM’s…Poker machines are worth their weight in gold and pubs and clubs know it.

Anyway, it was on a stormy day. The temperature was 8c and the day loomed long and overcast. We decided to visit a local ‘workers’ club.
http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/101163/sub197.pdf

The origins of Australian Workers Clubs seem to have got lost in the bowels of history. I can’t find much in that area on the internet. It is interesting that in one of the largest, The Revesby Workers Club they have a large insignia at the front of it depicting a crossed plumber’s wrench and hammer. This seems to hint at a communist influence in earlier days. One can just imagine the board of directors compromising after a heated debate to allow a hammer and sickle design. They replaced the sickle with a very large plumber’s wrench, Ha, ha.

The general advertised aim of clubs is to provide good amenities for families to meet and spend enjoyable social times together. The clubs are non-profit where all income (from gambling) is ploughed back in many areas for the welfare of communities. Sports, leisure, care for the aged are just a few social items that most clubs are involved with.

We arrive and after entering were met by a very nice warm blast of air conditioning. At the desk we complied with a very odd and much questioned ritual of filling in a form requesting our full name, address and driver’s license. We are not a member of the club but even so are always very welcome as long as we comply with this ritual. Whenever we ask; why this strange procedure?

Answers vary depending on the level of club expertise, ranging from ‘getting a win on the pokies and not paying taxation’ or; most common, ‘well, that is the law!’ Some vaguely mention liquor laws and the distance of the venue and the non-members home. Others mention that the law allowing people to drink a beer on Sunday (after church) was only passed (1962) if clubs would comply with this compulsory form filling by non-members. This, as so many other typical Anglo oddities remains a mysterious puzzle for us pragmatic Europhiles.

The Workers clubs in Australia are very popular with well designed pleasant architecture combining nice affordable food with range of beverages of coffees, wines and everything in between. The services are excellent and the gambling part well away from the family or diners. There are open fires, comfortable seating with lounges and soft furnishings. I could easily spend my days there, reading up, sipping a short black and observe its clientele, including the non-members. When we were there many just enjoyed the warmth away from the hostile bitter cold blasts swirling the tree branches around outside.

I had a lovely rump steak (rare) with a vegetable mix of cream sautéed potatoes, beet root, baked pumpkin with fresh coriander. With this steak& chips came a real silver boat of pepper sauce, my favourite! My lovely H decided on a Beef burger which was so huge, she took half of it home and even then it needed several tissues to wrap it up. Milo looked hopefully up to H when the other half was eaten in the evening. No luck though. He had just been given his chicken neck. This is Milo’s favourite as well.

So, in summing up; clubs do provide enjoyable venues and do much good in the communities, but… all on the back of those gaming machines which causes immense miseries for many.

Would a higher taxation on all income be a better option, still have clubs but without all those poker machines?
It is all so difficult.

Women’s suffrage, suffer the men.

August 19, 2013

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I sometimes wonder if it could at all be possible to limit men’s voting rights, just for a few years. Would the world become a better place? I mean women have only gained the rights to vote fairly recently so it would be no big deal if, even for the sake of some historical redress, men would be barred from voting. Perhaps just for five years or so.

What is little known is that it was New Zealand that gave women the right to vote (1893) first in the world, soon followed by all Australian states, excluding Victoria. Finland was first of the block in Europe but at that time was still a Grand duchy of the Russian Empire. Finland is outstanding in that women’s suffrage gained in 1906 also immediately allowed women to stand for elections. This did not happen in New Zealand and Australia till much later. Women to stand for elections in New Zealand did not happen till 1919 for the lower chamber and 1941 for upper chamber. In Australia it also took many years for women to be voted into parliament. (1921 Edit Cowan.) On a federal level it wasn’t till 1962 that aboriginal people were even allowed to vote! It was mainly the temperance movement that gave women their voting rights in NZ and Australia which resulted the US in following suit soon after. (Disclaimer; find out your own facts on this.)

The possibility of Abbott becoming a PM would certainly not happen if men were barred from voting. Perhaps Julia would still be here. I am not sure K.Rudd would be around either. Some of you might well think that events would not be any better or much different even without men and their penile driven peculiarities. They often recall the combatetive and warlike natures of Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher. Yes, quite so but they only got there by imitating the worst of their male counterparts. Joan of Arc or Mother Theresa would never have been Prime Ministers or heads of state with the inclusion of males in the voting world.

When our possible future PM Tony Abbott came out with his pearl of ‘suppositories of Wisdom’, declaration, women voters would have made him a court jester instead, never a PM. They are just too caring to allow a man with such a curious state of mind being wasted on being a mere PM.

The more I think of barring men from voting the more it starts to appeal. It is almost daily when I read about road rage. Yet, all road rage is indulged in by men. I have yet to hear a case of female road rage. Are the troubles in the world an expression of male road rage, a colliding of cultures or differences being just the vehicle for unlimited killings and brutal murder, total mayhem and illogical demented behavior with male minds running amok, thrusting rockets and bullets mercilessly into each other?

Look at the treatment of refugees in Australia. The ‘suppository wisdom’ party now rallying support from even more inhumane treatment by promising the voters that the thirty thousand refugees already in Australia will never gain residency here. What utter contempt for others, what total madness, but… also note that it is mainly the women who front up with compassion and humane treatment, often with genuine tears. They are not at the forefront of retribution and brutality against refugees. What bastardy for the possible future Prime Minister Abbott (Mr Suppository) to try and dive even lower than his party’s Liberal predecessors. Where are the tear stained faces of the men, with hearts of stone with fossilized emotional reactions to anything needing compassion and understanding.

What next? Will the mainly male driven parties keep responding with ever increasing tougher measures; line them up, shoot them, or send them to concentration camps? They’re almost doing that now.

So, ban men for a while from voting. Give it a go.

We have nothing to lose.

Suffer the men. Make that ten years.

A normal Phone with gin and tonic Apps for the Aged

April 1, 2013

imagesgin and tonic

You can never be sure of how society will move forward but I am glad that I most likely won’t be around to find out how the grandchildren will fare in a world that now seems to connect mainly by pushing little buttons on a  plastic-metal box with a small coloured screen.

We are facing a friendless world with ‘face-book’ friends but with the chances of meeting in the real flesh diminishing as years go by. When did you last actually go outside to shop for a dress or box of veggies or was that done with the help of those little buttons as well?

I remember my parents were quick of the mark with being one of the first to have a telephone back in 1946 or so. It was a large black glimmering device bolted onto the floral wallpapered wall of our lounge room.  This telephone would give off a loud ring and when telephoning someone it was done by a rotating disc with the numbers being large and clearly written on them. It was a gadget that would reassure us in its reliable functionality and simplicity. It was clearly a telephone.

The telephone book of Rotterdam then was very thin. Most just used to walk across the road or around the block to visit friends and family. We lived close by to family and friends. If not we would send a letter.

Now, the phone as a telephone has just about disappeared. I am driven beyond sanity when trying to have just a phone. The land-line is prohibitively expensive and now includes all sorts of extras that I don’t want. We now pay line rentals and GST (vat) plus options for complicated ‘menus of retrievals and voice banking.’ I just want what my parents had; a normal phone that has a reassuring ring.  It was life affirming and did not give attacks of anxiety as phone calls seem to do now. They now seem to have a sense of dread and foreboding of possible grief and immense sadness.

I now just want a device that is called ‘mobile phone’ (or cell phone in the US). It is far from mobile as it seems to imprison more than liberate. Just look at the anxiety written all over those hapless souls on street corners or shopping malls, trains and busses. All tapping away or glued to this mobile phone. ‘I am going shopping to Aldi” I overheard one of those tappers saying.

I was so desperately pleading with one of those cell-phone franchises; “please can I just have a cell phone that is a phone”. Incredibility staring back at me with total incomprehension as an extra. “What do you mean?”  “I mean a phone as a phone.” “I don’t normally have an urge to take a photo when I want to just telephone someone, nor do I have a burning need to listen to a radio or save messages, bank voice mail or retrieve last week’s riveting event at the shopping mall.” I also don’t normally play games such as chess, monopoly or want a weather report on the phone.”

“I sometimes just want to make a simple telephone call to my friend who is in hospital with a knee replacement.” “I don’t want messages of missed calls or reminders about credit,” nor send e-mail or want face-bookings with Russian sex Goddesses.

“Can’t you just sell me a phone that I can carry around?”

She, the franchise lady, smiled. “You are an old man and grump around that fact”. She could have said, but she didn’t. “Your parents despaired when the ball-point was invented and people started slurping Coke”. Did it ruin you, she continued? No, but that was different. We still did our tables and could write and spell. Now it is all “C U in 2 mnts, r u ok?” and the supermarket girl can’t figure out the cost of butter of $2. -, and give the change from $20. – without checking the electronic screen.

“You are still a curmudgeon and at the end of your miserable life”, she could also have added. (but didn’t)

It is true; I had some sad and unfortunate life changing experiences that you will experience as well. That is if you don’t get hit by a truck while sending text messages to your ring-nosed boyfriend in the meantime, I added smugly.

By now, the franchise girl became agitated and called the manager. He comes up; looks me over while rocking on his heels. “You sound as if you want one of our new models for the hard of hearing and blind”.  “It also has a handy Velcro strap to put on your walking frame and a clip-on for the outside rim of a commode, (just in case of a bout of intestinal hurry).  It comes with Galaxy Apps for the aged, he added with a smile. Gt fkd, C U at the Crmtrium, ashes to ashes. (I so wished…)

I just want a phone.