Writing - and an antique teapot
While I ponder what to next write in this blog of mine, the words of an old song keep popping into my head: “What should I write, what can I say, …….”
which is exactly how I am thinking.
However, the rest of the song, which goes something like this, “how can I tell you how much I miss you?” doesn’t fit my current wonderings
These lyrics were written (and sung) way back in the 1960s, by Carole King and it’s all about lost love and “…..it might as well rain until September”
Well, it is September and it has (surprisingly) just rained, even though the sun is shining. (Just one of those tropical downpours I have to become used to).
Still pondering what to write,
Francis Bacon, the 16th century philosopher - not the later (20th century) painter - is quoted as suggesting one should: “Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come the most unsought for are commonly the most valuable.”
So, do I? Write down the ‘thoughts of the moment’ that is.
So what should I do? What should I write?
Should I vent my spleen on the war-mongering that is proliferating on our planet right now?
Should I continue my diatribe about the inequalities that abound?
Or perhaps I should just tell about how I am in the throes of photographing and trying to sell great-grandma’s old fine china on eBay.
Because, yes, that’s what I’ve been doing.
Terrible feelings of guilt have been hard to slough off, but I am telling myself that if someone does buy these items, then they will be owned by a ‘someone’ who truly appreciates them and, unlike me, will not simply stash them away in a cupboard and never use them.
Then again, as I am unaware of the true worth of these pieces, I may be ‘ripped off’ by some antique dealer.
Nevertheless, I guess that ultimately the fine china teapot - and the tureen - will become possessions for someone who loves them. (Hopefully!).
But, of course, first I have to have a buyer.
We shall see.
And, look, I haven’t even mentioned Global Warming or fighter jets. (Phew!)
The Big Divide
We have a swimming pool in our backyard. When we bought the house an official pool fence inspector came to ensure that the pool was safely behind a child proof fence and that the gates to the pool were of the child-proof variety.
There was a palm tree close to one part of the fence which had to be cut back in case a (hypothetical) child ever came into our yard and used the palm tree trunk to lever its/his/her self over the fence. There was also a large timber gate at the back fence which had to be covered in non-climbable material to stop a (possible, but improbable) child’s entrance via clambering over a six-foot high fence.
Incidentally, at the front of our house there are three (lockable) gates.
For a small child to reach our pool it is impossible by any means, but we complied with the inspector’s instructions ‘just to be sure’.
The local children’s playground is all smooth surfaces and well maintained with soft-landing material on the ground.
Children here are very safe; they are very well watched over.
Parents of school children in Australia are advised to never include peanut butter in their children’s packed lunch in the slim chance that some other child at the school may possess a peanut allergy.
That’s how protective we are.
Last night I watched the TV news and saw some children on a bombed out apartment block on the Gaza Strip. They were balancing on crumbling pieces of concrete blocks about two storeys above ground level.
No one seemed to be taking much notice.
It was not a scene unfamiliar to TV viewers and it is certainly not only on the Gaza Strip that children are seen trying to live in the wreckage of buildings - or on bare earth.
In some war-torn countries children have little food or water, let alone toys or equipment for playing.
Some of them even have no parents.
The divide between our children and children in ‘other places’ is HUGE.
It is unfair and it is unacceptable.
But what can we do?
To Put an End to War?
¯ “Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before; I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war…” ¯
What I thought was a children’s song from the 1980s, I now discover was written, not for children, but as a ‘peace movement’ song, written in 1950 by American song writer, Ed McCurdy.
I first found it in a children’s song book and taught it to nearly 100 small children in the school where I was teaching in the late 1980s.
I had not heard it sung before and so put my interpretation to the music.
It is only recently that I have heard it (via YouTube), sung by the likes of Pete Seeger, Simon and Garfunkel and Johnny Cash.
Although the same song, it sounds a little different from the one the children sang and (especially Pete Seeger’s version) is sometimes in an almost rollicking, hillbilly style and sounds even a bit ‘twee’.
I have to say that I preferred the way my choir of children sang it many years ago.
But I am getting off the track of what I wished to say, which was that the song needs reviving - and reviving in a BIG way.
When it was first written, World War 2 had only ended five years before. When the likes of Johnny Cash performed it, it was as comment on the state of the awful Vietnam war of the 1960s and 70s.
And, here we are now with the most horrendous wars and terrorism known to man proliferating across the globe.
We are in the throes of anger and hate overload, but it seems that, as long as humans are on Earth, they (we?) will never learn that war is pointless.
I’m convinced that the majority of people agree with the sentiments portrayed in the little song and I (and most others) know that the way to live in harmony is not to fight but to submerge ourselves in kindness towards others.
LOVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS.
When will we learn?
‘Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.’
(Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953)
Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
I dreamed I saw a mighty room
The room was filled with men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again.
And when the papers all were signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands end bowed their heads
And grateful prayers were prayed.
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing round and round
And guns and swords and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground.
Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
Ed McCurdy. (1950)
September 09th, 2014
Here’s a true story:
A friend of mine (a 70+ year-old grandmother – whom I’ll call Mary) corresponded for a while with an asylum seeker (whom I’ll refer to as Dishi) and was finally permitted to visit him in a detention centre – after she had ‘been approved’, and her identity proven.
Mary arrived at the detention centre in her small car and, after consulting with officials, she met Dishi, the young man she had come to see; discovering a friendly, warm and intelligent young man who was still able to smile despite his predicament.
Mary inquired of detention centre staff if she could take Dishi out for a short drive. The answer was ‘No’ but if she allows a (later) more extensive ‘interview’ where officials can verify Mary’s identity further and check her credentials, she may be allowed (one day) to take Dishi out of the detention centre for a short drive BUT she (they) must also take a detention centre officer with them.
If Mary’s interviewer is not perfectly satisfied with her motives and character, but almost satisfied, she will be allowed to take Dishi out, BUT will have to include TWO officers on the drive.
(Mary drives a small car).
This poor man, Dishi, who came to Australia FIVE YEARS AGO is a genuine refugee who has done nothing wrong. He was fleeing chaos and hoping to find a job in Australia to enable him to subsequently bring his parents here to live safely. So far, Dishi has lived (half-lived) in HUTS, behind wire, in detention centres on Christmas Island and in three different states in mainland Australia.
The processing of Dishi's refugee application - and of so many other asylum seekers - does not seem to be happening.
How much is the housing (HOUSING? they’re not houses!), feeding and transporting of these poor people costing the government?
I may be naïve, but surely it would be more economical to resolve how to effectively process applications and sort out the (so called) non-genuine from the genuine refugees and put a stop to what in my mind is the torturing of our fellow human beings.
Asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are neither engaging in illegal activity, nor are they immigrants
The UN Refugee Convention (to which Australia is a signatory) recognises that refugees have a right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they hold valid travel or identity documents.
My husband wished to deposit some money in the bank today. The Automatic Teller Machine could only deal with withdrawals, so he walked into the bank building proper. He was 17th in line waiting….. 17th!
Half an hour later, he emerged. The actual transaction had taken less than a minute.
Last week I was waiting in line at the Post Office to post a package. I was lucky and only had 11 people who had to be served before me.
Several days ago, I popped into the supermarket for four items. There was one checkout open, with a queue of people, all with full trolleys waiting their turn.
I glanced at the ‘8 items or less’ counter; Closed. (And it should read ‘8 items or fewer’ I fumed, in my pedantic grammar mood!)
My only option was the ‘self serve’ checkout thing.
Partly because I was in a hurry, partly because I was cross and partly because I have a problem with arthritic fingers, I let all four items slip to the floor before I could scan them.
“What happened here, Love?” said the store helper, as she assisted in retrieving my purchases from the floor. I hate being called “Love”, and my grumpy self really took over.
“This is an appalling system,” I commented. To which she replied, “You could have gone to the counter.”
There was no use pointing out that there was no one manning that counter and the only other checkout had a hundred people with a million items in their trolleys.
I grumbled, paid and exited.
On Tuesday we were on our way for a great night out for dinner and the Ballet.
Deciding to catch the train into the city instead of the tedious and stressful drive, we arrived at the railway station to be confronted by a closed ticket window and an automated ticket machine that would not take coins and would not accept anything small than a $10 note. And, no, we couldn’t ‘top up’ both our cards with the $10, but had to put in $10 for each separate ticket. So, an unexpected $20 was added to our outing.
As the train sailed in and out of stations along the way, we saw queues of passengers at each automated ‘gate’ , pressing cards and sometimes faltering and trying a second time, before the desired effect of causing the weird contraption to open.
And throughout that hour long train trip, I mused on the News item of the previous day, which announced the dire straits of our young people who are unable to find employment.
‘It’s a real problem’, we’re told. ‘It’s a tragedy’, say some.
I say: Where are the young bank tellers? Where are young staff members manning the Post Offices? Where are the young people on the supermarket checkouts? (Or, for that matter, working as shop assistants?) Where are the Station Masters and young railway ‘porters’?
Where are the factory jobs for the young and willing in a no-longer-manufacturing Australia?
All gone in the pursuit of money for investors and “Big End Of Town”.
Yes, It’s a real problem AND a tragedy.
Sorry for the whinge.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.