Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Watch the Matildas wipe AFL and Rugby out of the sporting pages and (lack) marriage equality.

September 21, 2017
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                          Sam Kerr doing the backflip

Move over boys, the women are coming! Nothing has been more exciting than watching women take over the back-page sporting pages away from the men, and not before time. The on-field backflips of Sam Kerr are sweeping the world.

I am normally not interested much in sport and find it a great pity that one is forced to endure sport before the  weather forecast. I often forego the weather report in order to miss a particularly ear-grating sport commentator. The horror of discovering, after our arrival in 1956, that a sport was being played in Australia with a ball that wasn’t round has never really left.

The Australian all girl soccer team of the Matildas is now winning over the admiration of many if not all. The reluctance of allowing women sport to be equal to that of men isn’t yet totally won over, but it is happening. They still play in lesser stadiums and earning lesser pay but the enthusiasm of the crowds are rising rapidly. The Matildas thrice win against Brazil was the clincher. A full proof sign that it is gaining momentum is the fact that our grandsons and their mates are now watching the women soccer games being played on TV.

The spectacular backflips of the main striker Sam Kerr after scoring her goals, are shown world-wide and grabbing attention that could not be improved upon no matter how well the advertising of sponsors.

It’s almost pushing the Same Sex Marriage debate off the news.

Last week on Q&A ( question and answer)  the Israeli politician Merav Michaeli was on the panel who  was sceptical of all marriages and concerned about the effects of break-up marriages on children, the equal rights of property division etc.

“Israeli parliament Merav Michaeli, whose reaction to Seselja’s meandering celebration of heterosexual marriage alongside his scaremongering over the school curriculum was best captured by guest host Virginia Trioli.Trioli to Michaeli: “You didn’t let Zed Seselja get through that answer without lowering your eyes. You have a jaundiced view of this institution?”

Jaundiced isn’t the half of it: “It was created back at the time when we women were commodities, as were children, as were men without property and of other colours. This is not something that we should maintain in the world when we realise all of us are human beings. It is not about love. 

“I realise the campaign says that love is equal. Love is definitely equal. It’s got nothing to do with this institution. This was a tool that was made to dominate women for the sake of reproduction. For men to have legal custody over children which are to the largest I would say chance of certainty their own flesh and blood. This is not something we should sustain.”

The best answer for the ‘yes’ vote was giving by a member of the audience who stated that a ‘no’ vote meant that the marriage between heterosexual people was the only moral right way, and that the ‘yes’ vote was  wrong denying the rights of marriage between people born with different orientations, implying that being different was inherently wrong and of a lesser value.

Of course, no one is obliged to marry, no matter how equal it hopefully might become.

My ‘yes’ vote is in the post.

 

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Going for Thai lunch.

August 12, 2017

 

photothighs and toms

 

We have an arrangement with friends to go at least once a month for lunch. So far we have had three lunches and all have been at different Thai restaurants. In between lunches with friends we sometimes sneak in a lunch just by ourselves. Helvi really likes ‘lunching’ to be kept to a minimal. ‘What’s the point of going often when it will finally end up just as boring as putting on your socks?’ An argument difficult to counter. An oft repeated act always runs the risk of suffering the ennui which we are so keen to avoid.

Some acts oft repeated seem almost unavoidable. One of those involves getting dressed and undressed. I have written about this before. But putting on a different uniform when going to bed always has struck me as a rather futile arrangement. Why not just go to sleep? If we are part of the animal world we certainly don’t follow the pattern of animals by crawling somewhere horizontal and wait for sleep to overcome us. I don’t know of any animal that changes its coat or outer garment, do you? Why do we insist on this ritual of wearing two uniforms during each twenty-four hour episode of our lives? Has it always been like that?

Taking a holiday is also a good circuit breaker in softening the deadening routine of everyday life. In the past I foolishly argued that life ought to be exciting on its own without needing a break. Routine would just not occur if we had the nous to be creative and innovative in arranging the hours between waking and sleeping. A holiday was superfluous. Life was a holiday. But, and this is the dilemma we face in ageing; energy wanes.

I know, some maddening examples are given on Face-Book of people in their late eighties, climbing Mount Everest, swimming in polar regions or tirelessly re-marrying. But these are infuriating examples teasing us to click on a Face-Book advertisement urging us to buy   ‘Go-Ease Stool Softener,’ or worse, ‘Gastro-Stop’ . Modern parlance calls this ‘click-bait.’ Ageing is not without those sewer- entrepreneurs that cunningly exploit the old and try and ease us of our savings. The exposure on TV of the horrors of what happens in Retirement Villages could very well encourage many to hurry, and click-on ‘Delights of Euthanasia.’

I have been poring over ‘Princess” cruises which entice people to go on a large boat across many waters, explore tropical islands, get tempted by locally hand-made baskets or watch iridescent lagoons glow at the setting sun, watched over by waving palms.

When I ‘clicked-on’ the details of what to wear and what to pack in clothing on those cruises I read that they do insist on ‘smart-casual’ dress code and ‘formal’ for some days when they have social events such as ‘Gatsby’ evenings.

The women might like to dress as ‘flappers’ and the men like ‘Crosby’. Cocktail dress or frock for the ladies and black jacket and pants for the ‘boys’.

This was followed by a stern warning that jeans with holes in them would not be allowed on-board in the restaurants. We all know that jeans with holes cost a fortune. In fact the more holes or even complete missing legs are beyond the financial  resources of most people. A curious Princess rule.

When I told Helvi, she now refuses to consider a Princess cruise. She scoffed at ‘Cocktail dress’.

Nothing is easy. Best to stick to the occasional ‘Thai Lunch’.

 

 

Doctor will see you now.

July 4, 2017
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The sun is out.

It is surprising how it has turned around. Years ago, if one was crook, doctors would do home-visits. Before doctor’s arrival, Mother would give the house a peremptory clean-up with the toilet-brush swirling vigorously around the bowl, then a quick flush. All was aired. The kitchen given a quick scan and dishes put away. The patient, one of us children, would lie prone in bed wearing a suitable pallor, indicating the illness was genuine, dispelling any doubt he or she could have gone to the Doctor’s Practice instead.

Most doctors now have moved into collective groups and in my own case it’s almost like going to the pictures. One enters a large building with doors sensing patient’s arrival opening up, before your trembling hand is even within reach of the glass. Germs are well contained within the patient’s own bodily confines. This collective groups of doctors are now called ‘Medical Centre,’ all housed under the same roof. One almost expects the possibility of the Centre  to address other issues as well, perhaps selling vacuum cleaners or prosthesis’.

For the over seventy-five, the driver’s license can only be renewed after an obligatory medical test. One of the questions I faced a few weeks ago was; if nurturing ‘suicidal thoughts’ were obvious. I can’t imagine a patient entering Doctor’s office with a length of rope scanning the ceiling for any suitable hooks to hang oneself from. How does one nurture suicidal thoughts ‘obviously?’

Of the few times I see a doctor, there are always rows of patients seated next to each other in the waiting-room. I am idling some time away trying to figure out their ailments. A bandage here and there makes this guessing easy. It get’s a bit tricker when nothing apparent is visible. Last time I noticed a woman with a very red face as if she had been the aim in a beetroot throwing party. She could have high blood pressure. With healthy men I wonder if they are seeking a repeat prescription for Viagra, especially if they look a bit tense or shifty. I believe Viagra ordered on-line is risky. There have been cases where the Viagra was just an aspirin with the patience of the partner finally running out and romance flagging so sadly.

My Medical Centre waiting room had a number of rooms attached in which the different doctors would see their patients by calling out their names. Of course, with average patient’s age ripening, the hearing aids feature plentiful. That’s why doctors now call out the names much louder than let’s say 10 years ago. It won’t be long and doctors will hold high, boards with names on it.

My waiting room has an aquarium with listless gold-fishes just swimming around oblivious to any ailments or physical shortcomings of the surrounding people. At the bottom of this aquarium nestles a Tudor castle and some plastic trees. What disturbed or factious genius thought up building a castle underneath water and then proceed to drown trees? No wonder the gold-fish are listless. Above this  watery oddity is a TV screen giving patients now a second options in loosing their minds. This TV is showing the local temperature interspersed with a quiz testing medical knowledge. One question asked if flu was caused by bacteria or virus? Most of the questions gave three or four possibilities or answers. One had to guess correctly by answering  a, b, c, or whatever.

The TV is not really looked at. Even the elderly are checking their iPhones now, bent over little screens, little sighs sometimes escape.  Getting old is not without sighs.

Years ago we held wild parties. I remember a woman coming out of our bedroom, totally dishevelled at 4am. She had crashed out on our bed. She woke up and ambled into the lounge-room where some of us were still going on, rambling about politics or the state of the Vietnam war. ‘Is there another cold one in the fridge,’ she asked? We never even knew who she was or what she was doing. That’s how casual it all was. It did not matter, she had played the piano earlier on. Not a care in the world.

Now, I am sitting in a waiting room at a Medical Centre also wearing hearing aids. What’s going on?

 

It came to $41.20 without any sugar

April 3, 2017
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Grapes, strawberries and figs.

The $41.20 was the total of our shopping adventure this morning. The day started early. With the change in day-light saving we seem to get up earlier instead of sleeping longer. That sleeping-in, so desired when young, evades us now. I am always glad the night is over. Unless we have to get out shopping and walking, we generally muck about till midday in our pyjamas. Now that winter is knocking, we might consider not even moving out of them at all. We shall see!

We are still reeling somewhat from a range of TV programs whereby eating sugar has been taken under the loupe. I hope millions have watched those TV programs and the dire consequences resulting from eating sugar. It is not just obvious sugar, no it is the hidden sugar in our foods. Most breakfast cereals, sauces, micro-wave foods and almost all processed foods have  lots of sugar.  I thought that a fruit yoghurt was a fairly safe food to ingest. Wrong! That too has ladles of sugar. So have all fruit drinks. Of course, a Coke drink is pure poison. If cigarettes are addictive, the experts reckon so is sugar. The present world epidemic of obesity is all sugar related. Yet,  apart from some brave souls exposing the evils of sugar, our government is eerily quiet. “A personal choice,” they might sometimes whisper behind closed doors.

We have never been fond of sweets and apart from one spoon of sugar in coffee we never take the stuff in anything else. We cook without shop-bought sauces. I suppose those lovely Italian tinned tomatoes have some sugar, as has most bread and pasta. We never drink lemonade or soft drinks, and reckon water is as good a drink as any. But…what about wine? I thought that the sugars in grapes convert into alcohol. Is that so? I hope so. I would not like to give up my love of the afternoon ritual sitting in the garden talking with Helvi while sipping wine.

Milo knows the ritual and we bring his cushion out. A creature of habit. He sees me filling a glass with Shiraz and he bolts towards the back-yard sliding doors. He loves us doing that. So, I do hope that there isn’t too much sugar in wine, even if just for Milo’s sake.

It is amazing that most of our modern dietary habits have been installed by the large Multi Corporations. I remember the large Coca Cola truck rolling into our primary schools in Holland giving all children a free Coca Cola. This was during the mid nineteen- fifties. It was the beginning of the end. We seem powerless against the intrusion into our lives by those large businesses that profit from spreading premature deaths to millions all over the world. Deaths that can easily be avoided by not eating so much sugar.  The health costs eventually will force government to act and stand up to the likes of MacDonald, KFC, Cadbury and all those other perfidious multi nationals. I noticed that some school kids during sport wear caps with the McDonald logo on it. How is that possible?  Where are the protesting parents?

In those programs the large corporations were asked about their responsibility in all that obesity. They avoided it by denying the evils of sugar. The same tactics used by cigarette companies.

But getting back to our shopping bill. The $41.20 included;  a man’s flannel pyjamas (XL), a bottle of Precious Earth Shiraz,  a four pack of salmon cutlets, a bar of Dove soap, a bunch of broccolini, three avocadoes, Cherri tomatoes, a tin of Italian tomatoes and four bananas. There might have been another item but I threw away the receipt.

 

Communion with a Frog.

November 22, 2016
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Milo at peace with the world

 

The event of my friendship with a stingray following me in the water along a stretch of beach at Bendalong was perplexing enough, but yesterday we had a frog visiting us inside our home. How often would a frog end up inside our homes? It would have to be a deliberate choice; surely?

It happened during last evening’s TV hour of Rick Stein’s ‘Venice and Food.’ He seems to be joining several TV cooks combining culture and food, or at least linking food having its origins in making do with whatever was available at earlier less affluent times . Good food is the result of poverty more than wealth. Herbs were added to basic ingredients to make tasty and often nutritious food by peasants. Of course, at least in Venice, the peasants have disappeared or are rich. The real peasants have morphed into hordes of belching tourists.

Last night’s Rick Stein’s tour along Venice’s Grand canals were interspersed with sea-food risottos or pastas dished on mouth-watering steaming plates, all so colourful, with just the right amount of a verdant green sprinkle of parsley, with Venetian sienna accented intonations by a smiling waitress.

When everything was steaming along on TV, I noticed Milo, our much revered Jack-Russell Terrier, carrying something around in his mouth. As it was dark outside I did not think it would be a lizard. During daytime hours, one of the less social acceptable amusements is Milo chasing lizards and performing amputations of their tails. He is totally flabbergasted that there are now two wriggling beings instead of just the previous single one. We don’t encourage him.

I told Milo to drop his pray. He did instantly. On close inspection I thought it might be a young bird. It kept moving about. I lost sight of it in the semi-darkness of our lounge room. We usually spent evenings in subdued lighting. Milo though, all excited, wasn’t about to loose his pray and directed me to this missing little animal hopping about. It had now jumped into our bedroom. I looked and discovered it was a fairly large frog. I tried putting a dish-washer cloth over it. It jumped away before the cloth hit the floor. It had jumped into the bathroom. Perhaps it needed water?

I managed to find it again underneath a rack of towels. This time I covered the frog with a wet towel. I told Helvi about the frog, but she did not seem interested, and kept looking at Venice and listening to Rick Stein’s cooking commentary on the telly. I duly and with some magnanimity carried (proudly) the frog to the other side of the house and to the safety of a tangled Jasmin bush. During the last few years  this jasmin managed to scramble over the paling fence shared by our neighbour. It was also near an outside light which had a crowd of insects buzzing about. I hoped this frog would find a nice morsel as well. It should not just be the domain of Rick Stein. I then took it a small saucer of water.

After the show was over, I urged Helvi to take a look outside at the frog. It was still there and looked happy. As far as it is possible to detect happiness in a frog.

Good boy, Milo. Good boy, for not pulling the tail off a friendly frog.

The Gas bill.

July 13, 2016

IMG_0618home

The latest Gas Bill arrived yesterday and showed a surprising fall in usage compared with the same period of last year’s. And that is despite the gas rates having gone up. Some six years ago after moving in our town-house, we did fill up all possible cavities above ceilings with insulation blankets. It seems that the mania for installing downlights reached its zenith around that time too. We have dozens of them. The bathroom upstairs has three of those alone.

In the past, one light per room was the norm. With the innovation of low voltage lights, architects seemed to think they could now go berserk on installing a multitude of down-lights on every square metre of ceiling. Of course, by doing that they would not have found much opposition from the energy companies. The more wastage the better. It wasn’t till I crawled into the roof space one evening when I noticed the whole area ablaze with light as well. The insulation experts told us that a lot of leakage of both light and heat was due to the downlights. We had to put brackets over all the downlights above the ceilings so that the insulation could go over those downlights’ transformers, prevent possible fire.

The roofs already had insulation blankets underneath the rafters installed by the original builders. So, we have double insulation. Of course, this will not insulate us against our final ‘journey’, but at least we will be warm as long as possible in the process. This is also why we put in double glazing on all glass areas in our living spaces downstairs. Readers by now might well conclude we live like misers, going around the place with candles, cackling manically, and ghoulishly celebrating, re-reading old gas bills. This is not true. We live well. It is just a Dutch treat or trait, that wastage is the eternal enemy to guard against. It might well be genetic.

Today though we will really test the ability to stay warm. An icy blast from Antarctica is supposed to reach us within a matter of hours. Already further south, people have been warned to stay indoors. The TV news showed us people all huddled up and looking anxiously at the sky. They say, that keeping newspapers in between blankets is a good way to stay warm too. I would recommend NOT to use The Daily Telegraph, The Australian or The Financial Times. They are owned by Murdoch and likely to send shivers up your spine. The Sydney morning Herald or Dutch Australian Weekly, Suomilainen Lahti, Aldi’s catalogues or Die Woche are all fine.

Snow is expected to fall wide-spread, especially in the Southern Highlands where we are living. Well, we are prepared as well as possible and will survive. I do hope that those Danish doonas stolen so many years ago are still warming up a few lost souls. The events so long past whereby the thieves stole doonas and yet did not touch money or other valuables, speaks volumes. It still intrigues, does it not?

By the way. Our gas bill was $396,- compared with last year’s (over the same period) $489.-. The bill covers three months. We did have an extraordinary warm autumn though. Perhaps that explains it. Even so, the rates per M3 of gas did go up! I now pay those bills using the computer. Such has been my progress on using IT.

The definitive ‘Almost There.’

May 11, 2016
Almost There

Almost There

The book has now been uploaded in a few different versions which I prefer to name ‘editions.’ The nervousness of trying to work out the self-publishing trail on CreateSpace is almost palpable. Even so, one learns from mistakes a lot more than from perfection. So, please, if looking at the different versions, the book with the least formatting and/or spelling mistakes has the cover as shown above. It is now the definitive version of ‘Almost There.’

You might well notice a version (edition) of the book whereby even the name of the author is missing. I did not intentionally choose to be that modest. It might well show up the Author to be really ‘Not there at All.’

The Kindle version has done well and the paper back book is yet to be distributed and shown on all the Amazon outlets. I have ordered a box full (40) of the paperbacks for selling in Australia. The postage from the US does almost double the price of the book. Even so, it is still priced very competitively.

In the meantime, we are hardening ourselves for the onslaught of our grandsons to come over this Friday to ‘share’ the Eurovision music festival on our TV ( with the Philips sound-bar and large woofer.) They are coming by train which both the mother and Helvi are somewhat nervous about. I reckon it will do them good. The protection of children is ridiculous. Surely, train travel is normal and not as dangerous as is made out. Of course, the world-wide beaming of the attack on a train in Germany by a German National is not helpful. Again spouted as an act of terrorism doesn’t do much in bedding down the excessive fears of travel and nourishes fear the world over of stranger danger and terrorism.

We all know that the real terrorism is flourishing within family life. In Australia, two wives/partners a week get murdered by either the husband or partner. Domestic abuse is rife and far greater that those very isolated attacks by a deranged person shouting Allah is Great, before shooting or knifing someone.

I am surprised relationships are not banned or at least looked at by consumer protection bodies such as ‘Choice’, or ICAC. If fridges had failure ratings as much as relationships they would be banned. Domestic violence ‘incidents’ as notified to the police number several hundred EACH DAY.

Next time someone whispers, ‘I love you’, go and run for your life.

Instead, read a good book.

I’ll have TV with Sound-bar, please.

April 7, 2016
Milo at peace with the world

Milo at peace with the world

The latest to hit the commercial world is a sound-bar. I heard people talk about it in the Bowral Strawberry coffee lounge. ‘How is your sound-bar going?’ The question was put by a lady in her late fifties bravely wearing tight white jeans and a floppy top with those hanging wings that at times can conveniently hide the possibility of a bulge here and there. The receiver of the question was a man wearing a bright pink striped shirt and a hat shaped a bit like a Dr Livingstone helmet. I had seen him before. A well know Bowral eccentric, of which there can never be enough.

The conversation got lost with the embarrassing and unashamedly endless high-pitched barking of our Jack Russell, Milo. Despite all our efforts, Milo still goes nuts at the sound of a Harley Davison. We have asked several motor bike riders, before they mount their bikes, to allow Milo to have a good sniff and total freedom to whatever he might want to engage in. Bite the muffler or attack the pistons etc., even the rider. Milo does nothing he just stares at the bike. What goes on in his wise little brain? However, he does know we don’t like this behaviour and tries to be extra nice afterwards. He kind of wags his tail and settles down, but only after he has disturbed the serenity and peace of all the other latte sippers.

But, back to the issue of the sound-bar. Some months ago a large electrical retailer went belly up and into liquidation. No buyers could be found to try and rescue and save the hundreds or so retail shops scattered around Australia. There are now big signs on the Dick Smith shops ‘Closing Down,’ all items MUST be sold. This draws in the bargain hunters. We have been, for some time now, contemplating buying a larger TV, especially one with a better sound. The ears are getting worse with the approaching station’s terminal.

It wasn’t really urgent. We rarely watch TV much, prefer the sound of silence, as they say. If sounds are sometimes heard, they are most likely be our domestic voices; ‘How did you sleep’, or,’should we go for a walk now or later?’ Sometimes a more pertinent question;’Does this rubbish go into the red-lid bin or is it for the yellow one?’ Of course, the Danish-Swedish productions we always watch. ‘The Bridge’ we would stay home for, and perhaps even our own ‘Janet King’ with Marta Dusseldorp.

After all the weighing of the pros and cons we walked into our own Dick Smith shops. The atmosphere somewhat gloomy. The shop looked as if it had been visited by bandits. The salesgirls looking sad with dust now allowed to settle on empty shelves previously occupied by IPhones and ear-attachments. A computer cable resting listlessly on the floor. Where would they now find another job? Business is all so reckless now. Consideration for alive people seems to have got lost lately. Have you noticed that too?

We stared at a row of special 40″ TV’s with the DICK SMITH logo emblazoned on the carton boxes featuring a brightly coloured Italian village hugging a steep cliff on the Mediterranean coast somewhere. Perhaps it was the Amalfi Coast! One could almost just have the box on a stand in the living room? Anyway, we asked for ‘the best price’ which came in at $399.-. ‘How is the sound, I asked?’ ‘Oh, not bad really,’ she said, looking sideways. ‘Ok, we will have it.’

After unpacking, and almost giving up on trying to wrench it out of it’s carton box, we turned the TV on. I thought I was hearing a message from the Station Master or my IPhone. The sound was like an announcement through the speakers on the platform of Bowral rail-station, ‘stay in front of the yellow lines, please.’

We had to go out and ask if anything could be done. My brother who inherited the same lack of hearing gene from our mother, spent $ 1200 on a ‘surround sound’ system to supplement the squeaky TV sound. The google machine was cranked up and after much research, a Phillips sound-bar was chosen. We bought the thing from Bing Lee for $ 299.- including a sub-woofer. It was a revelation. The sound superb and TV watching improved greatly.

A long story! Aldi is now selling 40″ TVs and separate sound-bars. Can you believe it? No wonder Bowral is excited and people ask each other; ‘How is your sound-bar going?’

Send us your manuscript. Our board of editors favourably…

March 14, 2016
 Forgot the mirror image when printed. (Black square)

Forgot the mirror image when printed. (Black square)

I don’t know what to think of this but hope I am not smelling a rat, perhaps just a whiff of a small mouse? I have received by overseas post, (yes remember post?) a letter where my initial submission of ‘Almost There’ was received favourably by  ‘a board of editors.’ Really? I have been asked by ‘this board of editors’ to submit my entire manuscript by a Word attachment.

The address of this publishing house is impressive. Canary Wharf, London. Images of gleaming floors and whispering voices, a battery of computer-screens with assistant  sub-editors smashing glass ceilings.  Huge screens being lit up by the latest book releases and their screaming jackets. Appointments with TV channels, interviews with new and budding literary giants. The pale looking manager rushing to the elevator to meet dead lines. A frantic hub of activity.

In the midst of all that a special executive room with a large table surrounded by smart black chairs on which are seated ‘a board of editors’  all discussing gerard Oostermans ‘Almost There’.

Sometimes,  when things are just too good to be true. They usually are. My Helvi is telling me to calm down and just send the manuscript and see what happens.

What do you reckon, dear readers and followers? Do you smell a rat?

The return! (Auto-Biography)

August 16, 2015

While the three years in Holland are worthy of a book-tome on its own, I have to move on. Time is of the essence. Having arrived at seventy-five since the  seventh of August this year, and with at least another forty years to record, I must move on from the nineteen- seventies. A derailment is a possibility! Still, I must remain sanguine and take heart from the statistics that tell me there is an eighty percent chance of turning eighty- five for those that are in good health at seventy- five. However the odds of turning ninety-five at eighty-five years of age are less cheerful.

A few art shows followed the primary school triptych commission. Here and there paintings were sold and generally things were steaming along nicely. Our three children were growing fast but not so fast that driving around in the Kombi wasn’t at times a somewhat difficult  and testing task. Young children on long car trips is a job too far. Who would not be bored sitting confined in a metal box on rotating rubber wheels? Instead of long drives, we  set up tents in the paddocks together with sheep and Shetlands.  It was a blessing. The kids loved it and with two tents, they could swap around if there were disagreements on which teddy to sleep with or who had pinched an extra biscuit.

My brother Frank with his long suffering chronic schizophrenia was finally repatriated and taken back to Holland in 1975. Australia doesn’t serve the disadvantaged well.  It had been a hell. In bewildered desperation he had jumped off the Pyrmont bridge in Sydney. His left foot was to become forever damaged. He was fortunate to have survived the jump.

Years of tussles between the Australian bureaucracy and my parents did not resolve the lack of care for Frank. He would either be free to come and go as he liked, or, the alternative, have him ‘scheduled’ and he would never come home. The idea of ‘scheduling’ Frank into an Australian institute filled us all with horror. There did not seem to be anything in between. The very term ‘scheduled’ brings Charles Dickens and Bedlam into focus. Even today, I would not want to hear Mental Health and Australia mentioned in the same sentence. At least not during that period. When Frank jumped off the Pyrmont bridge he had for some years joined that army of the dishevelled, the uncombed and lost souls that roam streets, hovering between a vague sanity and death without much care by others except for the desperate parents or a rare kind person that would at times provide food, shelter and some encouraging words.

 

Two Dutch carers from Holland came to pick Frank up from Sydney and he was flown back to Holland together with my parents. It would not have been easy to have a mentally ill person on a plane, but the Dutch Government would have complied with the relevant regulations. One can imagine! My parents were informed of what to expect for Frank in the care of Dutch social welfare and mental health. He had a room on his own with TV, encouraged to play sport and swim. He would have his own income and free to do with it what he liked. ( mainly cigarettes) . My parents would be at all times kept informed about his health, medication. He would be given dental care, his feet, eyes, all would be looked at and maintained. His days would be spent with activities and at times would be taken in groups on outings, excursions, holidays; even at one stage to France! My parents were free to visit and Frank free to visit his parents but accompanied by nursing staff.

Helvi and I remember once visiting Frank at his new place in Holland and asked if we could speak to his doctor and staff. We were given a lunch, sat around the table talking to the psychiatrist, his doctor, staff and given all the information to do with Frank’s care. An unbelievable and wonderful experience. A weight was lifted from our family. Why was that so difficult to achieve in Australia?

My parents also left Australia for good and decided to be with Frank and own extended family of brothers and sisters. A considerable number had moved into an age in tandem with themselves. Their numerous children were now adults with own families. Many parents now retired and care-free to enjoy life, paint the town red, or if not red at least take a floating tour on the rivers of Europe, sipping champagne and soak up Habsburg’s castles perched on steep cliffs and rocky outposts.

My parents had put up their house for sale in Revesby, that would afford them a little nest egg. It was for them the right thing to do. They would be with Frank and their own family. The rest of us had settled, married and had children of our own.And then..like a bolt of lightning, we decided, or rather I decided, to return to Australia… But of that…next time.