Posts Tagged ‘Toilet’

A Dutchman’s riot at Davos.

February 1, 2019
Image result for rutger bregman
Rutger Bregman.

 

In Australia the worst thing one can do is to talk about paying taxes. Both major parties make people feel like pariahs whenever a policy is contemplated that might involve paying taxation. Sugar tax is one of those. Taxation raising is a mortal sin and confession to it is not likely to bring you any salvation. You will burn in an eternal hell.  But, the rich get richer and the poor poorer.

One keeps reading that 28 people own as much as half the world’s population. In the US, the richest country in the world,  workers in chicken factories  have to wear diapers because they are not allowed to have the time to go to the toilets. The chicken carcasses are strung on a moving belt so, a toilet break can’t be factored in! Profit at all cost.

It is clear that continuing giving tax breaks is aiding those 28 billionaires but not the workers, and so it goes. Its logical conclusion by governments to keep giving even more tax breaks will result in finally no taxation being paid. Back in Eisenhower’s day the taxation rate stood at 90%. That’s when the US was great, but look at it now! I have never been to the US. But… people who have been there recently are horrified of what they saw. Did anyone watch Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9? The horror of a freedom that allowed the poisoning of 100.000 people in Flint city! And that is just the beginning. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_water_crisis

There was quite a stir at this year’s 2018 economic forum at Switzerland Davos when a young Dutchman got up and spoke a truth that resonated around the world.  The taxation rate for those 28 billionaires stands at zero. He claims that the inequality in the world is taxation avoidance by the super rich. It is not rocket science!

I urge you to see this video of the Dutchman at Davos.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/01/rutger-bregman-world-economic-forum-davos-speech-tax-billionaires-capitalism

The more I hear about western democracy the more I admire my hydrangeas.

 

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Getting down to Earth

February 2, 2017

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With the heat of the last few days in retreat, I’ll try and revive a few more words. Words tend to wilt with anything over 26c. If not wilt, melt. Like butterfly into buterfy or wedding into bedding. Letters faint, drop off. In the meantime. Let me recall some of the last few days. Of course, the minimum requirements during heat are plenty of electric fans. The double glazing is fine when the nights cool off. Eventually everything gets hot and an itchiness develops to just survive breathing in and out.

One of the advantages of large shopping malls or even small ones is that they are air-conditioned. Dire warnings for elderly to stay well hydrated, avoid sun sugar seek shelter, stay calm. It wasn’t helped reading more people die of heat than drownings. We sought refuge in Aldi, just sauntering around the oranges and broccolini. It is amazing though that the the big ones such as Woolworth and Coles that advertise on the Telly, are losing custom. You won’t see Aldi on TV. Yet Aldi is taking away shoppers in droves from the big supermarkets. It are the Mercedes and BMW’s that now glide in and out of Aldi’s parking stations.

Svelte bouffant blonde ladies carefully going over the specials, bending over sweet potatoes, fingering the carrots that one is likely to encounter at Aldi now. Men in Country Road shirts, camouflaged shorts with many pockets lingering around the tool section, contemplating sets of spanners or paper shredders. It is so relaxing. An escape from heat. I wonder if taking a couple of easy fold-out chairs into the air-conditioned splendour of Aldi would be objected to? I mean a couple of oldies just taking it easy?

During one hot night. I took to extremes. A fold-out bed under the fan. Desperate measure.  The fold-out bed is about twenty centimetres above floor level. Pretty handy, I thought. A bit like going back to my camping days. But, again for each progressive move forward, a punitive counter move. With the much lower centre of gravity I could not get up when a call of nature beckoned. Let me tell you. Getting older is in direct proportion to toilet breaks. The less years ahead the more toilet breaks are engaged in. After a few attempts in trying to get up by using available leverage I found out my limitations.  Sitting up was achieved but not actually standing up. I felt helpless. I needed nurse. I considered just letting it just flow all out. Who cares?

The mind gets active in emergencies. I thought that if I rolled out onto the floor first I might just be able to get up by the help of the coffee table next to the bed. I managed to do just that. I first dropped my feet on the floor, followed by legs, than my torso, chest accompanied by neck and attached head. I rolled over and by arching my knees managed to get enough off myself  from the tiled floor to reach the top of the coffee table. The rest was easily managed. I felt so proud. Almost did a Tarzan’s jungle call but thought it would alarm Helvi. She slept well elevated above ground level in our communal bed. I went to the toilet triumphantly.

Another handy hint during the present heat-wave is for the elderly to seek shelter in the local hospital. We are living right next to not one but two hospitals.  A public hospital and a private one. The Public hospital use blue-tack and sticky -tape while the Private hospital  gives you a free pen to sign over your wallet.  One could just find some excuse or ailment and take a comfy chair in the emergency department. They often have lots of magazines. Many waiting patients can be engaged with comparing levels of ailments or the latest government pension cut backs. The wait for triage nurse always a thing to look forward to. Her soft caring hands wrapping the different bodily measurements equipment around your arms. I tell you, it is not a bad option.

Think about it!

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

January 14, 2017

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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.

Mid Summer is close when the cicadas start singing.

January 7, 2017

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The Australian summer is now buzzing with hot days following hot humid nights. The restless tossing around with whirring of fans, I get woken up by an early light that’s causing an orange tinge around the trees outside. It brings back memories of many summers ago when I was sixteen or so, sleeping outside on the concrete path leading from the back-veranda to the outside dunny. (For outsiders, a dunny-can or dunny is an outside toilet of earlier times.)
The day time temperature was over 40C and the night not much less. The mosquitos were murderously bloodthirsty but the coolness of lying on the bare cemented foot-path beckoned, and concrete won.

The dunny was an Australian toilet before sewer was installed. In the haste of accommodating hundreds of thousands of post WW2 refugees and migrants flooding into Australia, the installation of sewers by the ruling Governments were not a prime consideration. Bulldozers were roaring over the country-side as far as the eyes could see, building roads, and making way for sub-divisions on which to build houses. Own home was the Australian dream and the priority. My mother back in Holland had this dream about Australia of having a house with a real bathroom. A house with an outdoor bathroom wasn’t on in her horizon, let alone a toilet whereby all urinations and defecations were done in a drum which would be collected once weekly by a ‘dunny-man.’ The dunnies did not have water taps!

This job of collecting the dunny can was a much coveted profession. It entailed (through many years of traditions) many lurks and perks, not least were the short work days. The faster those cans were collected, the earlier the dunny collectors could knock-off to go home. The collecting was always very early in the morning before the steaming heat would make the stench of the job very challenging, almost impossible, even for the hardiest. The only requirement was to be strong and able to hoist those cans on the shoulder and able to make a run for the truck on which the cans would be placed in, rows after rows. No slackness would be allowed. By ten o’clock in the morning the men would be home for a shower and a change of singlets. I remember those blue singlets well. They had runs of browns stains. There were rumours of some of the dunny-men to have formed dalliances with lonely widows or divorcees. The mind boggles, but love overcomes all.

It was, while as mentioned before, I was prostrate outside on the cool concrete during the late 1950’s or so, finally asleep, when the dunny-man arrived. Without as much as a side-way glance he ran past me, collected first one and then the second one ( we, with six children were a two pan family) , one at a time. I remember the slushing. We accepted it as normal and part and parcel of having migrated in quest for owning our own home.

The cicadas will soon make their presence known. A small chorus is practising already while I am penning this. The kookaburras are keenly waiting for their appearances when the cicadas will start clambering cautiously above the soil. They will start their arduous climb back onto the eucalypts. Many will make it for the cycle to continue. Many will feed the Kookaburra too.

Yet, their singing goes on.

Thorn amongst roses.

March 25, 2015
The humble Kalanchoe

The humble Kalanchoe

Lately there seems to be always more women around than men. It shows up especially at birthday parties. Of course in the age group of people in the range of 65 to 85, many men have carked it.  It is a known fact, which some women, who might not have rowed quite as well in the gondola of happy marriages, seem to think it ‘fair justice!’  As soon as one enters the room, and provided one arrives about half an hour later than the agreed time, one gets lots of beseeching female eyes  concentrating instinctively on scanning another solitary male, albeit even when accompanied by a female.

The reason could also be that men, instead of calmly dying, don’t like social gatherings anymore and prefer being at home in the recliner watching sport or some pseudo documentary of bearded Vikings on horseback shooting arrows at random into a stone-walled Yorkshire dale below. Anyway, whatever the reason, in our limited social events experiences, women often outnumber men at least five to one. This was the occasion last night. It was our neighbours 82 birthday to which we were invited.

She is a very busy  neighbour who knows everybody, having lived in this green spruce& conifer town for most of her life. To be fair there were four men and about twelve women. The men were all huddled in a group and the women spread in a semi circle around the table of food and drinks. I noticed an empty chair between two women and quickly headed for that one.

My other choice would have been to join the men who seemed to know each other. I did not wish to impose on whatever they were so keenly talking about. They often talk about success and achievements. I am more into failures, far more interesting.

After settling in and given a drink I just sat there cross legged with a smile and feeling confident my denture was firmly into place. The woman on my right made the initiative. She asked where I lived. The woman on the other side joined in and in no time were we talking about what we had done so far in life. I had made a fortunate choice. The woman on my right who was born before the war, started talking about an experience decades ago. The laws in Australia at the time were still Dickensian. A woman could not get served alcohol in a pub except when seated in ‘the Ladies Parlour.’ Most times, the favoured drink at that time for ‘ladies’ in the ‘ladies parlour’ was either a sweet sherry or a shandy which is a beer watered down with lemonade.

Anyway, I soon steered the subject over to the different toilet cultures experienced in overseas countries. This is were the party really got swinging. Fortunately both women had travelled a lot and knew the subject of overseas toilets even better than me (I). I regaled how in those early Australian times the word ‘toilet’ was never used for women. It was as if women were so delicate and nice, that they never had a need for ablutions. They just did not go. That’s why a toilet for women were referred to as ‘ ladies rest rooms, ladies powder rooms, even …in Hyde Park, Sydney…ladies reserves’, as if women were rounded up in some kind of South African style Paul Kruger Park behind wire fences.

The woman on my right,  Helen,  told the story of having driven during the fifties,through one of the most isolated parts of Australia, behind Broken hill, the ‘never never’ country  of hundreds of miles of dirt road. It was driving straight into the blinding western sun. For hours on end. She  finally arrived at Ivanhoe and headed for the only pub in town and wanted a cool beer. The bartender said he would not serve a woman in a public bar. In those times it was just not done, especially not in an outback town ‘beyond the black stump’. She said; I went outside and bawled my eyes out. The bartender relented and said she could have a shandy on the veranda outside, provided she would also eat a meat pie.

Can you imagine? We laughed heartily and it was a great night.

Troubles of the inlet flexible Toilet metal Valve, Sex for the Aged.

March 26, 2013

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“Once you double thread the plastic inlet valve you’ve buggered it up”, the plumber cheerfully informed me. The whole week-end was taken up by trying to fix a pesky leak around the toilet bowl. I got fed up being accused of miss-aiming. Worse, I was accused of ‘old man’s dribble’. Can you believe this? ‘How come it is only wet around the upstairs loo’, I retorted. ‘That’s because you go upstairs during the day and downstairs during the night’.  ‘I fail to see what night and day have to do with it’, I feebly defended. It was hopeless and I should have known better. The lack of logic was appalling.

After several tries with a spanner and multi-grips with the bathroom in full flood I gave up and next day called a plumber. It is of course useless to call a plumber on Sunday. I tried and remembered Woody Allen saying. ‘Not only do I not believe in a God, but try and get a plumber on Sunday.’ The plumber turned up on Monday and spotted the fault within seconds, “the plastic thread has been double threaded on the inlet valve” he told me, but without directly accusing me of one of the most common plumbers diagnostic observations. He was canny enough and knew exactly on which side his bread was buttered.

Were you as heartened as I was that sex and the aged are now seen as essential as walking sticks or laxatives. I could not believe that ABC TV on Q&A a couple of nights ago,  featured the minister for immigration wholeheartedly supporting the idea of erring on the side of the aged including demented or Alzheimer suffering patients or clients allowing (in an emergency) sex workers to bring joy to those still getting the odd twinge or so. It is nice to know that in a future not all that far away we all in our final dotage will be well catered for in that section of ageing gracefully.Some of us can’t wait for a bit of light hand relief or some honest face sitting in case of our sexual needs still surfacing at times. There is still so much to look forward to.

It was the Kelly O’Dwyer, the ultimate conservative throwing cold water on the excitable supportive audience by going on endlessly about how “we all should ‘tread carefully’ and act ‘very carefully’, be very ‘careful etc”, on this issue. What can you expect from an ultra conservative Member of Parliament with such a ridiculous seat named ‘Higgins”?

Just to finish off.  I read that the funeral business in the US is in dire straits. With the advent of flu shots the number corpses have dried up and dying is not what it was a while ago. Embalmers are jobless and forced to seek employment elsewhere. A great pity because, sooner or later, the dying will come back and the art of a good embalming job will be lost. Some of the smaller funeral businesses have been taken over by multi corporate giants. They can buy coffins in bulk, share facilities, crematoriums, embalmers etc. A good embalmer in the past could call his price. He would study the corpse, chin held caringly in one hand like an architect contemplating a future opera house.

The funeral industry wasn’t helped by a Court case in San Francisco where it was alleged a corpse had coughed and someone claimed to have caught fatal pathogens from it, suing the Funeral Company for millions. Experts were called in denying that that risk existed. Passing wind, yes, that happens frequently especially during transfers and bumpy car rides from hospitals, mortuaries, coroners, but coughing is not possible and passing wind does not carry dangerous pathogens. Very often funerals are now with as little fan fare as possible. The profits are being squeezed and in about 12% ashes are not even claimed. It is all part of a throw away culture.

The art of death is not alive as it used to be.