Posts Tagged ‘US’

Tribulations of Treatments.

May 8, 2018

images Loving Couple

You know winter is near when the wood-smoke greets early morning’s walking our dog, Milo. This is now done each morning before the trip to Campbelltown hospital for radiation. It falls on me while Helvi gets ready. It includes her dressing and make-up. A woman takes much  more time with those rituals. She needs patient husband. After coming home from radiation in late afternoon, we both take Milo for another walk. Milo is very fit and so are we.

Yesterday’s treatment involved as usual the same batch of patients. We sit together in the waiting rooms. A kind of conviviality has developed. We are all in the same boat. Life is precarious enough without cancer. We become even more tenacious by hanging together sharing our plights. The man with the prostate cancer confessed he had become impotent. ‘This treatment did it’, he told the room. The wife looked annoyed. ‘Is that all you ever think of’, she said?  He looked to be in his late seventies. ‘No, it is not all, but I always enjoyed it’. ‘It’s a major part of me;’ the husband said proudly.

‘There is more to life than just that’, his wife replied. ‘Just think of the nice holiday we will have when going up north to the sandy beaches of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. ‘I am not talking about a holiday’, he said. ‘I can’t crack it anymore’, he added. This time he was miffed. Perhaps the wife did not give enough credit or importance to his masculine side. I too thought the wife might have handled it a bit more diplomatically.

The husband looked around the room hoping for support. I could only mumble;  ‘they are different types of enjoyment.’ ‘A holiday and sex are different things’, I added optimistically.  Another supporting male lifted the spirit of the husband. He seemed pleased and continued, warming up to the subject. ‘For my whole life I woke up each time with a ‘morning’s glory’, he enthused, followed by a more sombre;  ‘not anymore now though.’ For the uninitiated, the morning glory refers to erection. It reminded me of another expression. A rather coarse one; ‘cracking a fat.’ This was a popular expression between trade plumbers or sewerage specialists. In the US they refer those sort of remarks to; ‘locker room talk’.

 

The waiting room’s atmosphere really warmed up now. Almost like a locker room. The husband looked somewhat triumphant having brazenly confessed his declining state of morning’s tumescence. The wife sighed, shrugged her shoulders.  I subtracted that she might well have endured her husband’s libido for peace sake more than for her own joy. Sex is often overrated. It doesn’t get you anywhere. I often prefer a good book or a herring.

A younger female patient joined in and  gave a much needed supporting sigh to the wife. ‘Those men.’ she said defiantly, ‘they are always banging on about their own things’, she said. She told the room that she has a brain tumour which had spread to her lungs and liver. She has two boys of seven and nine. After finishing her story of plight and worry, the previous issue of erections and cracking, seemed trite. ‘That’s life’, she said. She seemed happy and was accompanied by her mother. I thought, at least she will have her mother to look after the boys if she doesn’t beat her cancer. It seems such an unfair business.  The room became quiet again. One hears miraculous stories of beating the worst diseases and ailments against all odds.

Let’s hope the mother of the little boys survives.

 

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A horse of clay

May 1, 2018

IMG_0047a horse

A Horse of clay

It was maintenance day yesterday at the Campbelltown Radiation clinic. We had a day off. The equipment needed to be checked, oiled, greased or whatever. Most of the equipment has ‘Philips’ on the name tags. It makes me so proud. The radiation has to be focussed with pin point accuracy. I see patients with head shields going in, or neck screens.

Today was normal and all equipment in good order. After arriving I checked the bookshelves. Bingo! My book had been taken again. I had a replacement ready. I quickly flicked it on the shelf. At one stage the man with prostate cancer got up and perused the books. He did not take mine, even though I had put it in the most prominent position.  He was hovering his hand over my book. I nearly told him to take it, but desisted.  Can’t wait to see if that has been taken tomorrow. Its title is ‘Oosterman Treats.’ I am so excited.

On the drive home at about 3PM we visited the sushi take away at the big shopping centre at Mittagong. We both always go for the ‘Binto special’. They are most generous with the little soya and wasabi sachets. I love squirting the wasabi on the lid of the box that the rice, salmon and sea-weed wrapped food comes in. We watch the people go by. There is a weight problem in Mittagong and they seem to congregate at shopping malls. If only they could resist KFC and the 2 litre Coke and go for the Sushi and plain water.

Sometimes we get the urge to go and look at second hand stuff at the Salvos in Bowral. It is a giant Salvos. A good thing is they don’t insist on converting me. It would be a waste of time.  I like religions who leave people in peace. I had to tell the two ‘sisters’ who live at our complex that I am not going to the Mormon cottage meetings but that I do like the choc-chip cookies that they keep making. One of the girls is from US Texas, the other from NZ. They are so nice and even gave us a little impromptu guitar and singing concert on the pavement in front of their place.

At the Salvos, Helvi wanted to try and buy a narrow set of shelves to put our potatoes and other vegies in underneath the stairs. It has a third toilet. The builder must have had a thing about toilets. I can cope with two, but three? Perhaps he suffered bowel problems. We both noticed a clay horse outside the Salvo shop. It spoke to us. It was only $ 10.-. I took the horse under my arms and went inside to pay for it. What a find. It is beautiful even without its tail and ears.

Helvi went on to look for the shelving and shoes. She likes nothing better than to find a $ 500.- pair of Italian shoes for just $20.-. I went straight for a comfortable chair to sink in with the horse on my lap. I immediately fell asleep. I was tapped on my shoulder. A middle aged woman looked me in the face. ‘Would you like a glass of water?’ I am always pleased when somebody talks to me. There is not enough contact between people. I told her I wasn’t thirsty and explained my wife was looking at shoes. She smiled. I think she understood. Women sometimes have common grounds and shoes might be one of them.

Afterwards I wondered why she thought I might like a drink of water. Was she testing me? Did she think I had passed away with that horse in my lap? It does happen. The horse was a fantastic find. Isn’t it beautiful? Helvi last night made a tail from rope which she plucked out. I will try and get some clay to make ears and bake it into the oven after which they will be glued onto its head.  It is now standing proudly near our front door outside. Milo was a bit suspicious.

I think this horse is beautiful.

 

 

The round-trip to the clinic.

April 24, 2018
IMG_20150516_0006

Table setting. Hand coloured etching.

 

Today we drove for the 7th time to a special clinic for radiation. There and back is around 140KM. We drive at around 100km an hour. The car has speed control. However, the use of it gives my foot a cramp. I prefer to keep working the pedal. There is also something frightening of a car going on its own volution. I am not sure about sitting in a self-drive vehicle. In any case we will be driving for many days yet, with a total of 25-35 radiation treatments.

The clinic itself is a jolly experience. This is surprising. Most or all of the patients have some kind of cancer. Perhaps the fear of getting cancer has at least been relieved by the certainty of the patients’ diagnoses. There is no more doubt. Still, jolliness and having cancer seems an oxymoron. The clinic has two waiting rooms. One has a TV which is always on, droning on a commercial channel most of the time.  The inane dribble on channel 7 by incessantly smirking presenters will do no good to any patient, not even those that are jolly and in remission. I change it over to the National Broadcaster’s news, ABC, channel 24. This gives News. Even there, the announcers seem to be laughing all the time too. I wonder what do they suffer from? Is the news from the Trump’s US or Syria so hilarious? Perhaps the TV bosses tell the announcers to be cheerful despite the carnage shown.  It surprises me that no one protests when I change the channel. Mind you, no one watches it much. They prefer to talk.

The other waiting room is a better place. They have bookshelves with many books to either read while waiting or take home in exchange for books patients might like to swap with. In any case, both rooms have patients waiting for treatment. Most have a specific given time and as the treatment only lasts a few minutes, many are in and out quickly. The undressing and re-dressing takes more time. The atmosphere is of geniality. I suppose there is a solid common bond. They all have cancer. The radiation perhaps also aids with a kind of warming glow. Shared problems together is a great binder and the laughter in the waiting rooms reflects this very well. Each time we leave the clinic we are both in great spirits.

Maarten is one of the patients whose time of treatment coincides of that of Helvi. He is Dutch born and 82 years old. He arrived here with his parents in 1953. I did in 1956. His Dutch language is still fluent and so is his brain. His parents settled in Wollongong with his father building a house there. He told me he created a Dutch choir in Wollongong which is still ongoing. Maarten also plays a recorder  and when well enough attends courses run by U3A. http://sohiu3a.org.au/   I think he likes classical music. I will ask him next time.  I am a sucker for classical music.

We meet each day at the clinic together with many others. Many arrive by Community buses with carers. Some are in wheel-chairs. We met a couple. The wife gets her nose radiated. She suffers a melanoma and hopes the treatment will prevent losing her nose. Perhaps in total, we spend at the most 45 minutes at this clinic.  We drive home and sometimes take a lunch at the Sushi take away in Mittagong or the Thai place back home in Bowral.  The daily trip means we have to put travel on hold. But, the experience each day at the clinic is a good compromise. Perhaps not a holiday but a good unexpected bonus of joy with strong people on the edge. The snippets of social exchanges between other patients is very exhilarating.

We  like the daily visits.

Is the Second Amendment anti democratic?

February 24, 2018
IMG_0552pagoda

The Pagoda of Buddhist temple near Sydney.

A long time ago now, my Australian friend was advised to make sure to be back at the hotel before 9pm. ‘It’s not safe in LA after that hour’, the hotel concierge told him. My friend did hear gun shots during the night. He very much enjoyed his visit to the US and thought the restriction of being back in the hotel before 9pm a somewhat quirky event that he still likes to regale to this day.

While the bearing of arms in the US is regarded as a democratic right protected by the constitution including the second amendment, I am beginning to wonder if it actually is so democratic. With a fear gripping the country where even children are afraid to attend schools. Is this freedom to bear arms now restricting the enjoyment of the free and democratic society that the US is so well known for?

“The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

This all very well, but what about the children? What about the children? This ‘freedom’ is killing them now and what are you going to do? You must know that more guns will kill more.  The statistics are apocalyptic and horrifying. It is now restricting your freedom, your people. You keep on putting trade restriction on North Korea because you feel they are a threat to your security, but what about your own internal security? The lack of security is rampant, and in the hands of assault weapons held by millions of citizens well within your own borders.

You are not a Cow-boy country anymore and the British ceased to be a threat. What and who are you so afraid of that makes you want to bear those Arms at forever increasing numbers? Just because it is in a constitution does that mean that no matter the effects to thousands of victims each year, this country is too lame now to change it?

I pray that at the next election the opponents of a US democracy,  including the NRA, will be taught a lesson they will never forget.

 

Is killing children now the norm?

February 22, 2018

One doesn’t have to go to Syria to witness killings. Wave after wave of high tech bombers drop their loads on targets which are known to house civilians. They do this with pin-point laser guided precision. Words now fail the UN and many other peace organisations in condemning the slaughter. Footage on the News show, with regular monotony, civilians running and carrying the dead or wounded over piles of rubble. One gets the impression that  running hither and dither is about the only activity still possible. After all, some victims are being carried out of hospitals that were not spared the slaughter either. Where does one run to? If the world’s empathy hasn’t stopped the slaughter of innocents where does one go?

Of course, we don’t have to visit Syria for the slaughter of innocents. The US is in an even worse predicament, and the only war involved is the one of their own making. The Florida school massacre is one of the many school shootings that occur with the regularity and predictability of a grandfather’s clock ticking away. We know that from statistics and past massacres that they will continue. Knowing that, could one  ask if the killing of innocents in the US including the killing of children is now deliberate? Not doing anything by changing the law on gun ownership it must be known that school massacres will happen again. At present it happens about once a week, and since 2013 there have been 300 school shootings. More guns have been bought since, so, more shootings will happen. Guns do shoot!

https://everytownresearch.org/school-shootings/

Australia too, had its massacre. The Port Arthur Massacre

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Arthur_massacre_(Australia)

was the turning point and a law was passed in 1996 whereby guns would be bought back from the general population by the Government. It was called the Gun Buy Back programme. It was hugely successful and crimes and murder involving guns dropped immediately. Every now and then a moratorium enables another period to continue buying back arms whereby guns that have entered Australia illegally can be bought up again. No questions asked. It is sensible and saves lives. The original change of law in Australia was established by a conservative Government.

What happened after the gun buy back was introduced in Australia?

From Wikipedia.

“Australian independence didn’t end. Tyranny didn’t come. Australians still hunted and explored and big-wave surfed to their hearts’ content. Their economy didn’t crash; Invaders never arrived. Violence, in many forms, went down across the country, not up. Somehow, lawmakers on either side of the gun debate managed to get along and legislate.”

The latest from the US;

D. Trump while listening to a delegation of students from different schools, suggested he is willing to look at arming teachers and have trained guards patrolling the schools. He is knowingly advocating that more school children will get killed! He must know that.

There was a snippet of hope when reading that one man who was very pro gun, deciding he had enough of the killings and publicly cut his gun in three pieces. It is now going viral on the internet. It is a start!

Let’s hope he will be followed by millions more. Is there finally a change in the air?

Australia needs to pay more tax.

February 14, 2018

 

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garden

Listening to our politicians one ends up feeling we are paying too much tax. The figures from those whose job it is to come up with clear facts tell a different story. Our Prime Minister is forever ramping up the idea that if we only lower tax, Australia will boom like never before. The slightest hint that already now, with the present level of taxation, we are struggling to keep our hospitals and schools going is met with howls of derision.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/07/countries-where-people-pay-most-tax/

We seem to be doing the Fox Trot in tandum with the US where the people are also told the furphy that if only  tax would be lowered, fortunes are there for the taking. Boom times lay ahead for those that will accept taxation lowering, especially for the large Corporations. Now, like a bolt from the sky, canny journalists have discovered that most large Corporations in fact don’t pay any tax. Giving them tax cuts makes little sense.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-14/company-tax-rate-cut-arguments-missing-evidence/9443874

No, if we would only look at countries that have much better and stronger economies including generous welfare,   pensions, unemployment money, sickness benefits  etc., we would be following the Scandinavian countries, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and many more. All the above countries have much higher overall taxation regimes, including a social tax that pays for welfare.

The opposite can also be shown that lowering tax rates go hand in hand with increasing poverty, decrease quality health services, underfunded education , infrastructure decay, public transport creaking, and much more.

Of course, the lure of lowering tax rates is music to the ears of Corporations and the rich but inevitably will show up with an increase in rough sleeping, social crumbling, and more misery. If you look at low taxation paying countries you will also see increase in incarceration, crime, shootings and  poverty.

Don’t fall for it.

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This jungle our garden. هذه الغابة لدينا حديقة.

October 20, 2017

IMG_20171017_161555garden

As a concession to our need to be more inclusive and in the spirit of multiculturalism I will put the next few articles  translated in some of the main languages spoken and written in this wonderful world. We will start of in Arabic using the Google translation method. To our Arabic speaking friends I hope the translation comes across as reasonable!

I am more than pleased that the attempt by our minister for Immigration and (the much feared) Border Protection, Mr Peter Dutton, to make it harder for migrants to become permanent residents by setting university level English language skills has resoundedly failed to get through Parliament.

” it is clear that applicants sitting the new English language test in order to obtain Australian citizenship would need to meet a standard equivalent to that expected of university entrants.”

My parents and I would not have passed that test and more importantly how many of Australian born permanent residents would pass the English test today?  Note that this English language test would not be required by people from the UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Indeed, would Mr Dutton himself pass? It is clear that his notorious contempt for foreigners shines through,  when within cooee of migrants. However, Mr Dutton’s face lights up and really shines when refugees are included in the mix. His contempt knows no boundaries as shown by his treatment of the refugees banned to the hell-holes of Manus and Nauru, now in their forth year of detention. No charges have been laid.

Their hope lies in being accepted by the US, but with Mr D. Trump’s notoriety dealing with foreigners we will see if that will eventuate. In the meantime Dutton keeps on promising the refugees will never set foot on Australian soil even though the majority have gone through the process and been accepted as genuine refugees.

But, going back to the Dutton English language test, some compared it to the “White Australian Policy” from a few decades ago when coloured people were excluded from citizenship.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/citizenship-test-english-language-test-criticised-by-labor/9066530

After all this you might be happy to look at the violas again; or are they violets?

It is never too late!

الثقافية سوف أضع المقالات القليلة القادمة تترجم في بعض من اللغات الرئيسية المنطوقة والمكتوبة في هذا العالم الرائع. سنبدأ باللغة العربية باستخدام طريقة الترجمة من غوغل. لأصدقائنا الناطقين باللغة العربية آمل أن تأتي الترجمة عبر معقولة!

أنا أكثر من سعداء أن محاولة السيدنا للهجرة و (المخاوف كثيرا) حماية الحدود، السيد بيتر دوتون، لجعل صعوبة في أن يصبح المهاجرين المقيمين الدائمين من خلال وضع مهارات اللغة الإنجليزية على مستوى الجامعة فشلت بصدور من خلال الحصول على البرلمان .

“من الواضح أن المتقدمين الذين يجلسون اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية الجديد من أجل الحصول على الجنسية الأسترالية سوف تحتاج إلى تلبية معيار يعادل ما هو متوقع من الوافدين إلى الجامعة”.

والدي وأنا لم يكن قد اجتاز هذا الاختبار، والأهم من ذلك كيف العديد من المقيمين الأستراليين المولودين الدائمين اجتياز اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية اليوم؟ لاحظ أن اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية هذا لن يكون مطلوبا من قبل أشخاص من المملكة المتحدة وأيرلندا وكندا ونيوزيلندا والولايات المتحدة.

في الواقع، هل السيد دوتون نفسه يمر؟ ومن الواضح أن ازدراءه السيء السمعة للأجانب يضيء، عندما يكون داخل كوي المهاجرين. ومع ذلك، يضيء وجه السيد دوتون ويضيء حقا عندما يتم تضمين اللاجئين في هذا المزيج. إن ازدراءه لا يعرف حدودا كما هو مبين في معاملته للاجئين المحظورين في جحيم مانوس وناورو، وهي الآن في السنة الأولى من احتجازهم. ولم توجه اتهامات.

أملهم يكمن في قبولها من قبل الولايات المتحدة، ولكن مع السيد D. ترامب سمعة سيئة التعامل مع الأجانب سنرى ما إذا كان ذلك سوف يبرز. وفي الوقت نفسه، تواصل دوتون الوعد بأن اللاجئين لن يضعوا أقدامهم على الأرض الأسترالية على الرغم من أن الأغلبية قد مرت بهذه العملية وتم قبولها كالجئين حقيقيين.

ولكن، بعد العودة إلى اختبار اللغة الإنجليزية في “دتون”، قارن البعض منها ب “السياسة الأسترالية البيضاء” منذ بضعة عقود عندما تم استبعاد الأشخاص الملونين من الجنسية.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/citizenship-test-english-language-test-criticised-by-labor/9066530

بعد كل هذا قد تكون سعيدا للنظر في الكمان مرة أخرى. أو أنها البنفسج؟

أبدا لم يتأخر

Is US democracy disabled?

October 5, 2017

Image result for Bump stock rifles

The appalling killing of so many in Las Vegas still shocks even to those that are hard-core believers in owning killer guns. At least 10000 American citizens are killed by guns yearly. Another 59 victims hardly makes a difference to the yearly statistics. What baffles many who stand away from this strange behaviour, is a law (constitution) actually allowing this murderous killing to continue with nauseating regularity. They all know the mass killing will continue and in fact condone it by not altering this silly law of everyone allowed to own and carry guns.

The answer seems to be that the action of a lone madman should not hinder owning guns. It seems that the gun lobby, the NRA overrules the majority of US citizens who do want to limit and change the constitution. They, the NRA, are so powerful and continue to cower behind this constitution rule as if set in concrete. Is America so powerless that changing a bad law can’t be achieved?

The Second Amendment declares:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.[5][6]” 1689

The assertion that those mass killing are done by madmen seems to have struck a barrier. So far the killer seems to not conform to ‘madman’ diagnoses. His girlfriend and family members describe the man as a ‘normal caring guy’. He did love gambling, but in the US gambling is almost seen as a sport practiced by many  virtuous  people, the same like going to a church.

The only facts that have been established is his sanity. Throughout his life Stephan Paddock collected guns but that is a practise that millions of people do. This is normal. Everyone has the freedom to do that with little restrictions. In some states kids can buy guns. Mums take children to shooting ranges, teaching the little ones to shoot.

The only certainty we have is that the killer had total freedom to do what he did.

The guns gave him that freedom.

The abnormality and madness is within a society whereby a minority, albeit powerful can dictate , not allowing changing the constitution by a majority of law abiding citizens, for those dreadful bump-stock  improved machine guns and rifles to be taken out of society.

It is killing US society, and it is NOT normal.

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.

Our ‘own’ home.

May 26, 2017

When we say we own our own home it means just that. We own the title to our home. This means we can sell it, and profit/lose from it. We too bought our own home with our own earned money. Years ago, it used to mean that you had a roof over your head and ‘owning’ had a different meaning. Many people would probably add that owning own home is one of their best investments. I remember being swept up in Australia after our arrival, whereby ownership of home was seen as a main goal. A dream.  It is still looked upon as a major achievement in life. During the nineteen fifties till now,  urgings by many to strife for home ownership reached almost religious proportions. Half the newspapers used to consist of advertisements for buying and selling homes.

People gathered around the garlic- prawns getting grilled on wood- barbeques and spoke of magic real estate deals. Legendary tales were told by jolly men about unimaginable profits  made on selling properties that had sky-rocketed to much higher prices. Parties would rocket as well by  tales of real estate with empty two litre casks of Coolabah-chardonnay littering next morning  with redolent empty prawn shells. If you let it be known you were an ‘own homer’ your status gained enormous. Women would flock around, easy to date. They too were drawn to Homer.

My dad had much trouble understanding this. In Holland at that time ( 1956) owning own home was unheard of and totally unnecessary. Housing was supplied by Councils or Governments and generally leased for life. Even today home ownership in Holland is about 50% of the adult population. There was a period, compliments of WW2 and carpet-bombings, that an acute shortage existed of available housing. Thanks to the US generous Marshall Plan that Europe was given after the war the housing shortage was soon overcome.  Even so, tens of thousands were drawn to migrate to other shores, especially Canada and Australia. One of the attractions that were being dangled before future migrants’ eyes was the prospect of own home on own block with own bathroom in far away countries. Australia was magic. Colour footage was shown of ‘home owners standing on own lawn in front of own house.’ Those white picket fences, the gloriousness of it all.

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My parents with ‘own home.’

My mother was especially attracted to own bathroom. Back in Holland we had a galvanised tub with handles to bathe in. My mother would boil water on a gas stove. I was lucky  being the second eldest and by and large enjoyed a nice warm bath. However my brother Adrian who was nr 5 in the line of ascendency had tepid and scungy greasy well used water. That’s how it was.

Now the real estate has been so magically successful that hardly anyone can afford it. Many flock to the major cities. That’s why cities are formed. The majority like living in close proximity of each other. The prices are astronomical. A million dollars gets you a bare two bedroom un-renovated almost derelict cottage or a liveable home-unit. Most young couples have given up.

The dream is now a nightmare.

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