Posts Tagged ‘train’

Woe those that save and live frugally

March 6, 2017

images

There is always that pull to and fro of our past. Some say, don’t look back. But with age comes an oversupply of what has been and much less of what is yet to come. I am talking of time, not substance. It’s most unlikely that at the age of seventy-seven one contemplates joining the army or seek a career in investment banking. Sure, some go climb mount Everest or take up the piano, but most contemplate things and end up rummaging around in memories. I do.

One of the good things that was ingrained still occupies my train of thoughts. It was one my parents main input. ‘Live within your means. Save for what you want and don’t waste.’  This was also reinforced by the political system back in Holland. The era of consumerism never took The Netherlands in the same way it was embraced by Australia. Buying things on credit was unheard of. Today, this very different and the credit card is also embraced. Even so, some national habits are well ingrained. I believe even eating raw herrings is as much a pastime now as it was when I lived there. Saving is still held in high esteem.

This might well be the reason that of all the countries in the world, The Netherlands now hold the enviable record of 103 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth.  While much of that growth is contributed to cutting welfare and taxes and giving corporations greater freedom, Holland still enjoys a generous welfare system. Excluding costs of education, Holland spends 24.3 % of GDP (Gross Domestic Products) and comes in fairly high on the list of welfare spending. Australia spends 18% and  this is towards the lower end of world’s foremost economies. The US is the fourth lowest on welfare spending at 14.8%.

The Dutch pension gets paid irrespective of being poor or rich. Everyone who turns 65 gets it. It is a state insurance scheme whereby every one who works or has worked in the Netherlands gets a pension when turning 65. It is roughly 2% for every year that one has worked in Holland

http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Social-welfare-spending/%3E-%25-of-GDP/Excluding-education

This is all about our experience on how saving in Australia is being punished.  Since about two months ago the government changed tack on pensions. Those with savings above a certain limit would either get the old-age pension lowered or totally taken away. We lost our pension. It seems, that in Australia it is best to whoop it up and spend, spend. Burn your money, go gambling, load up your credit card, run up debts. You will ensure you get the pension.

https://www.svb.nl/int/en/aow/wat_is_de_aow/wie_krijgt_aow/

And by the way, the Dutch pension is about 70% 0f average wage instead of 40% in Australia. So, next time you hear Turnbull or Morrison going on how Australia is some kind of social paradise. It is NOT. We are pretty stingy when it comes to social welfare.

 

A nail biting walk back to Central Station

January 24, 2017

 

Almost ThereWith the submissions of my literary Magnum Opus  😉  to the State Library having been satisfied, the saga continues. The books might not equal the Finnish Kalevala, but it might well be looked  upon so by future Oosterman generations. The Kalevala is to Finland what the Sydney Opera House and cricket is to Australia.

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

After a short but important break at Myers with feet suitably shod in Velcro strapped sandals, our epic journey continued. My refrain “I am very hungry now,” was responded by, “yes, I have heard it three times now, we will go to Queen Victoria building.” Myers is connected below groundlevel to Queen Victoria building as well as to the Town Hall subway rail station and numerous other shopping Meccas. The changes happening in Sydney are fast and furious. The speed by which people now walk is astounding, or, is it my own speed that is slowing? The Sydney below ground level is at least as large and fast as the above ground Sydney.

After arrival we climbed up out of the bowels of the underground and into the basement of The Queen Victoria building.  We climbed to the top floor and soon found a restaurant that seemed to serve food with enough customers still eating at 3.30pm  installing enough confidence we would be sold a good and hearty lunch. This top floor has such inclusive and luxurious shops, rumours have it that Lucy Turnbull ( The wife of our Prime Minister) buys her handbags and other accoutrements there. Normal shoppers avoid the top floor except perhaps those dreamers that are on the cusp of yet discovering that money doesn’t bring happiness. ( neither does happiness bring money) We just averted our eyes and only opened them to study the menu.

https://www.qvb.com.au/

We watched a recent documentary about Queen Victoria. She was quite a tyrant and a cruel women. She had nine children and hated anything to do with productivity. There is a very stern bronze statue outside The Queen Victoria Building. She looks fierce and I became a bit scared looking at it even after all those years. She had the penis chopped off from a copy of Michelangelo’s David statue.

After that late lunch with a cool beer, we made our way back to the Central Railway station. The walk of that day would have totalled perhaps 8/10 kilometres. We did not even feel tired. I suppose proof the success of that day. It was exciting. Which made me think, as I have a want to, in reflecting a move back to Sydney. But, we like living here in Bowral. We don’t get the humidity or the heat. Above all, in Sydney’s real estate world one would not get much change out of  $1.5 million for a modest town-house.

We decided to do the trip more often. The train journey takes almost two hours with the fast train a bit slower than the slow train. But the fast but slower train does have better seats and the buffet. On the way home I ordered a delicious sausage roll. It was hot and flaky. We arrived back  just after 8pm with fading light.

A good and memorable day.

‘Café Society,’ and ‘Girl on a Train.’

November 1, 2016
The ever shrinking Cornetto

The ever shrinking Cornetto

As an antidote to ponderings about stolen Cyclamen and the combative state of some of our Body Corporate residents, we went to see both above mentioned movies. Bowral, even though having a small population, has a movie complex housing four cinemas. They show movies not normally shown at other cinemas and include monthly presentations of ‘Art House Movies.’

We were told that even though ‘The Girl on a Train’ wasn’t as good as the book, it was still a very good and watchable movie. It’s main theme is about Domestic Violence, but for me it was more of a thriller. Most murder and mayhem are domestic related. We all live in a world whereby we are separated by a sixth degree. Remember the movie ‘Six Degrees of Separation?’ It showed that any two of us are separated by just six steps. Can you imagine that? I am reflecting on our present PM Malcolm Turnbull. The latest from him banning FOR LIFE those refugees that have arrived by boat trying to reach Australia. They will NEVER ‘for the term of their natural lives, be allowed to enter Australia. Is he separated by six degrees from me? Is he one of us?

Try and get your head around this little gem.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-31/dutton-says-refugee-ban-won’t-break-international-obligations/7979242

We thought that the movie ‘The Girl on the Train’ seemed a bit confused dealing with different time spans over which it ran. I also had difficulty with the two women whom I thought looked too much the same. In fact, I thought they were the same, till the latter half when the film started to make more sense. The acting was very good and we both thought it a good movie. The main girl in the movie grappling with alcohol and memory. She finally came through and it all fell into a satisfactory end. ***

‘Café Society’ is a better movie. Woody Allen’s movies of the last few years seemed to be getting a bit luke warm. However, this latest creation is one of the best again. Thoroughly enjoyable. Superb writing. He is a master of words and plots, uses with great skill, wit, pathos, satire, Jewish issues, the use of much reflection… New York City superbly used for much of the background. Hollywood, and its jewellery bedecked glitterati,  Family, gangsters, love-affairs, smoking, jazz music, the saxophone. It is Woody Allen’s work at his best.**** It is very funny.
He is 80!

Word drought in The Highlands but spring is knocking. ( seniors)

August 14, 2016

IMG_0918 front garden August 2016

‘It won’t be long now.’ This is a saying that people use when expecting something to come along. It is sometimes used when on the Nr 1 platform waiting for the train to arrive. ‘The train is coming soon’, often spoken aloud by a brave soul to break the silence between waiting travellers, especially when a chill wind is blowing here in The Highlands. Most often, there is a response; ‘Yes, I think it is due in one minute, according to my timetable.’ This answer gladdens the heart, gives hope to the other fellow.

Those snippets of exchanging words to each other is so welcome. There can never be enough words getting exchanged between people, irrespective of waiting for a train or getting served at the Super-Market conveyer-belt. There is nothing more uplifting than getting a few words, after having gone through those endless isles of mind-numbing dairy goods/personal hygiene/ split peas/. There are now endless choices of toilet paper. We are figuring out the mathematical challenges with being confronted by the cost per hundred sheets per roll! No wonder people are becoming silent.

I could be wrong. Is there a shortage of spoken words being exchanged lately? If we feel like a good fill-up for spoken words we need to take Milo (our dog) along. He elicits the words from others so much better than if we walk without him. The word drought in public seems to be getting worse. I am curious if others have noticed this too? Most times, we used to strike it and get to hear words from others. They seem drawn to our Jack Russell more than us. Totally understandable in my own case, but with the welcoming and smiling Helvi, it used to smooth things out so much better.

It seems the problem might lie elsewhere. Often, people look serious when approaching. However, if they allow themselves to change their thought-train away from paying gas bills on line or texting and coping with obstinate or nasty relationships, and allow themselves to focus their sight downwards away from their gadget holding hand, and spot our Milo, an involuntary smile often escapes. Not only that, but many will actually stop, say a few words and pat him. That is the magic of the Jack Russell. We are still in touch. Are spoken words to adults getting less though?

I get the feeling that many are so mute now because their puckered up faces are so often close to their IPhone. I too have become a bit drawn to this gadget and at times open the IPhone without even being aware of it. Helvi gives me warning every time I slip into that. Certainly on trains we now rarely see passengers looking around or in conversation. Most stare seriously on what is in their hands.

I know, I speak and show my age now. It is all old hat. ‘Get real, Opa. This is our world now. Move over rover!’ The grandchildren have no trouble with it. They tell me that ‘Social Media’ is what is being practised. One hopes that this new form of mute media is not going to impact on relationships. I notice that so much modern TV drama is very intertwined with noise and deafeningly loud threatening thundering gun-fire type music, substituting drama where there might be none… It makes us tense and restless in expecting something, but it rarely comes or satisfies.

The words are just drowned out now.

51alYWDUUGL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_oosterman treats

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.