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An Elephant, a Duck, and a Community

June 20, 2010

asimplerlife.jpgWhen is a book launch not a book launch? When the author writes about his family and his upbringing then invites all those, and some, over to lunch to celebrate his parents, their love and tuition, the memory of them and all those (immediate family and others) who had some part in creating his story. Not the written one that is, but the knitted one. The one that binds everyone in a community together. I was very privileged today to have lunch on the family farm of Peter Fitzsimons (here listening to his uncle) and to meet not only family but to chat with people from the Peats Ridge area, be served a cup of tea by a lady wearing a CWA apron (when was the last time that happened? When I was fighting bush fires in Bamawm I think, in 1980!) and to have earnest conversation with old friends I had only just met. As only country folk seem to be able to do.  When Peter spoke to the throng (using the elephant as a pulpit) he spoke about family and community and of bonds that sadly we let fray and separate too quickly in our city lives. There was a book signing too but that was not really the gift of this afternoon. Or the point I suspect. Rather, it was about a community fabric that allowed a perfect (actually not so perfect) stranger to be woven into it and to enjoy some of its warmth and love. The duck snuggles in at the foot of the elephant. Fitting somehow.

Kebab Book review

March 19, 2010

chicken-kebab.jpgBB King is twanging in the ceiling, largely drowned out by the chatter of customers, the clatter of the kitchen, and the hum of extractor fans over the ovens. The hooting laughter from an elderly couple in the corner, lubricated by a bottle of red and another of white, punctuate the din. Chairs scrape. A Lebanese behind the counter shouts in good humour to a man who struggles with his English too – he has been here eight weeks, fled from a Swedish winter. They both struggle with their English and shout in increasingly loud tones to make each other understand – it is a common mistake. Read more

Neanderthals are Your Neighbours

April 5, 2007

They might even be you!! If you think that is going too far think about this. In an upmarket suburb of Sydney, in which the residents no doubt view themselves as having arrived – at least in society, wealth, education and status terms – she sat down to have lunch. After a little while the cafe owners sidled up to her and asked her to remove her scarf from off her head, there were some other patrons who felt the headwear inappropriate in their polite cafe. After complying to this odd request (count me strange, but these days I thought a scarf on ones head would be fair and reasonable basis for assuming an illness) she revealed her hairless scalp, the symptom of various cancer therapies. That was too much and shortly thereafter those same patrons asked her to cover up her head, her baldness was too affronting. She left without combating them, but also without telling the patrons she was grabbing a bite to eat after coming from the funeral of a friend who had succumbed to cancer.

Ecoli noted injustices to the handicapped make him wild. I have the patience of Job (a “flat liner”) but this sort of unenlightened small mindedness and sheer, unadulterated selfishness makes me wild. The same response is evoked when I hear someone in the street tell me my daughter should be locked up. Enough to have me secretly wish a retarded kid on their own families. The behaviour in the cafe recounted above would be enough to have me wish the same illness on those smug apes who found her baldness too confronting. And the cafe owners should not get off blameless either. Just as well I am not God or there would be some smoking patches of cinder around Sydney right now – blasted to oblivion with not a scrap of remorse.

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