I'm sorry, but this is just a whinge. Tonight, on the television news, there was a report about a young woman who was allegedly 'held up' at gun point and robbed. The reporter telling the story told how the young woman was left 'shell shocked' by the experience.
I am so tired of hearing people expressing the view that someone was 'shell shocked' - or that some small drama or other left them 'shell shocked'. Shouldn't the expression simply be 'shocked'? The term 'shell shocked' (as I understand it) originated from stories of poor soldiers in World War One, who were traumatised by being bombarded by gun fire, with 'shells' raining all about them, while they wondered when they might be next on the receiving end of a fatal bullet. Many soldiers who survived the awful atrocity of that war, reurned home utter wrecks, unable to work or cope with life in general. I suppose that, today, we would refer to the condition as 'post traumatic stress disorder'. It is (and was) a very serious condition and those poor soldiers (and the memories of them) of 100 years ago, should surely still bear our respect, by not referring to every slightly shocking situation as causing people to suffer from 'shell shock'.
I mean...when you hear someone exclaiming that the cost of something left them 'quite shell shocked' it's a bit bizarre and quite frankly, wrong.
So, there's my whinge for today.
So, here we are, living in the tropics. The days have been sunny and warm to hot; the sky forever blue, with hardly a cloud to be seen. The swimming pool a boon for hot people after a day’s toil.
But, on Monday the sky turned a dark green and thunder clouds rolled in with very little warning. The roar of the approaching storm was both thrilling and frightening. And then, it hit. And ‘hit’ is the right word, for out of the sky came hail stones – some as big as marbles, others more like golf-balls. They hit with such ferocity that the veranda roof was
dented, neighbouring houses had window panes smashed and our swimming pool took on the look of a boiling cauldron, as the hail-stones pounded relentlessly into the water.
Garden plants were shredded. The herb garden a mass of flattened stems and the carpet of nasturtiums left as if a rake-wielding giant had combed the leaves and flowers from their stems. Water rushed everywhere and hail piled up against fences and rockeries.
And, then, it was all over and the sun came out. A faint rainbow appeared in the sky and we looked at the scene of destruction only to find that the piles of hail, looking exactly like snow, had turned our tropical paradise (alminto a European Christmas card scene.
I found this photo in amongst a pile of old ‘things’ that
once belonged to my mother-in-law. The picture was taken in 1924, in a country town in Victoria, Australia. The two men are dressed very formally, but, then again, perhaps that’s the way they always dressed back then. Boots are polished, I notice, so maybe it was a special occasion. On the back of the photo, is mentioned the date (1924), the little boy’s name is Mac and he was then three-and-a half years old. He also is dressed well, but no one has bothered to wash his knees! Poor little fellow: he seems unsure of what is going on. Perhaps it is the first time he was ever photographed.
Nowadays, people seem to be snapping off countless pics
all day, but I wonder if anyone will ever find a picture from today - in nearly 90 years’ time - and examine it closely and love it like we do this one.
This evening one of my very favourite people in the world is graduating from school. He has spent the past 13 years as a school boy. He began extremely well: could read before he ever entered a classroom. He has continued on a most successful school journey, only stopping in this, his final year, to give up a little and to not bother too much with tasks allotted him. (That’s what happens when you’re newly 18 years old, so I've been told). But, nevertheless, he assures me he is up for some sort of award at the school’s ‘Celebration Night’ tonight.
I will be going to see him receive the said award…the seventh in a row, from this school that he has attended for the past seven years.
I decided to make something sweet and edible, as a celebratory recognition for his work and to mark the end of his school days. I have bought a card, which has a cute sketch of a little badger reading an ancient book on the front and the words, ‘may each day be worthy of a story’. So, with a tasty treat as well, I thought I was well prepared for the evening.
But, alas, as for the special Chocolate Brownies I baked, containing a whole block of dark chocolate, several eggs and lots more to boot, I was careless in removing the baked confection from the oven, the whole lot slipped from my grasp and broke, upside down, into many, many pieces on to the open oven door.
And now it is all scraped up, wrapped in cling-wrap and placed in the fridge. I have neither the time, nor the inclination to make another chocolate delight.
I shall take this messy offering to share after tonight’s ceremony and, at least it will (hopefully) provide a laugh.
And, well done, Edward. We love you!
In this photo, taken in the 1930s, you see three small
girls whose mother had died not long after giving birth to the younger two (twins). Such a tragedy would probably not happen in this modern age.
The three little girls were cared for by their father’s
sisters for several years until the father met a young woman at his place of work and ‘sort of’ fell in love with her. They married, but the young woman was always very aware that she was to be not only a wife, but a mother substitute
for the three motherless girls. (During their courtship, the father had made a gift to his soon-to-be-wife of a book of poems, which contained a special poem about ‘different kinds of love’ and she understood).
She was 27 years old when she ‘took on’ the care of the
three little girls. By the time she was 30, she had given birth to a son.
With four small children to care for and ‘do’ for, her life was a busy one. She cooked and cleaned and sewed and life was ordered but, at times, difficult.
As World War 2 escalated, the father, being a patriotic man, enlisted in the Australian Army and was subsequently sent to New Guinea. Fortunately, although suffering from the heat and the strain of war, he survived and was able to return to his family by the end of 1945. By then, his small son was three years old and his daughters all school girls.
His wife stood by his side as a willing and loving servant for more than four decades.
He was never able to speak of his first wife to anyone.
And I often wonder who it was who suffered most in this little story.
In our ‘new’ garden we have two frangipani trees: one in
the back yard and one at the front, facing the street. In our previous place there was never a frangipani in sight as they bloom only in warmer climates. A frangipani tree, without its flowers, is almost ugly, with knobbly branches bare of any foliage for months on end, looking almost dead. There is nothing really beautiful about a frangipani tree before spring blossoming time. I have been watching and waiting; wondering if ‘our’ flowers will be pink or cream. Some long leaves made an appearance first and then some strange stumpy looking ‘outcrops’ popped out on
the ends of the branches. And now we have flowers; not many yet, but enough to see their colour. I must admit I was hoping for creamy-white flowers to appear but it seems as if we have two pink-flowering plants. At first, the colour was quite a dark pink – crimson even, on the petal edges. But the petals are fading into a softer shade now.
I am looking forward to an entire tree coverage of blossoms and the gorgeous (tropical) perfume that accompanies the flowers.
I still don’t know how long the flowering season is. Hope it’s a long time.
I have just recently finished reading a book, written by
a journalist and sometime writer of speeches for politicians. He bemoans the fact that we seem unable to "...transcend .the emptiness of materialism or the loneliness of modern life…”, going on to say that “on these subjects politics seems to have little to say.”
Here’s a picture: one of many I have, that seems to show
that the simpler things in life are often the things – or activities – that provide most joy. No materialism in sight!
Some years ago, I wrote an article about a short video, entitled, “A Boy, a Dog and a Frog”. It’s a (quite old - 1980) Canadian produced film, based on Mercer Mayer’s story book from way back in 1967.
In the article I describe how engrossed children became in the film, no matter to whom I showed it, or what age the children (usually between 5 and 12 years) were. On this film there is no dialogue on the sound track; the only aural accompaniment is provided by music based on a concerto for oboe.
The reactions of the watching children ranged from absolute silence to the occasional sigh or short burst of laughter. At the video’s end there were always rapturous smiles.
(You can watch this little 10 minute film on You Tube).
My point is, after reading about “the materialism of modern life” and once more watching “A
Boy, a Dog and a Frog”, I can’t help but think of all the quite ugly and often violent programs that children access daily on television and the Internet and compare them to the simple, yet engrossing and enjoyable little Mercer Mayer story.
As I walk though the crowded shopping centres and see row upon row of what (to me) appear to be biliously coloured ‘toys’ with their same looking inane painted faces, and the ‘action toys’ with their obvious hint of violence, I grieve for today’s small children.
One other point I always try to make – but which mainly falls on deaf ears – is that it is adults who make the films, videos and toys. They claim that they are making “what children want”. But, if this is all that is provided, or offered, for the children, how can children even know that there are alternatives?
And, don’t even start me on ‘the loneliness of modern life’!
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.