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Retired carpenter..history buff, local and ancient..love stories of Italianate style, especially those village superstition stories..Very far left-wing.

The loneliness of the long-distance runner

That short story from 1959 by Alan Sillitoe, which gained fame through a film of the same name in the early sixties is still one of my favourite stories. The awakening of consciousness of class, the rebellious nature of the “anti-hero” and then that ending of the long distance race where Smith, the working-class lad who throws the race in the last few yards as a deliberate and brutal mockery and snub to the upwardly aware middle-class warden of the borstal where Smith was doing his time for petty crime, a most exquisite and obstinate passive resistance to that warden who wanted to “commodify” the running skills of the working-class youth as a badge of honour for his own aspiration with his own peers … and indeed to that whole class of degenerate opportunists … a most beautiful and fitting cut to the core of the middle-class commodifying of everything we deem most personal … from our social surroundings to our bodies to our very heart beat and soul.

“Sillitoe uses running in his story as a means of isolation. Running is a solitary action and therefore allows Smith to begin to understand and become aware of the class divisions in Britain. Smith, the narrator of the story, is also a writer and he is an allegoric version of Sillitoe and the isolation that all authors suffer from. Smith is a solitary runner who gets political clarity through running and isolation, just as an author writes alone and thinks alone. The long distance runner and the writer are both individualistic and isolated so that they are able to produce their commodities. The metaphor used to compare both the author and the runner is similar to the author losing his purity when he publishes a work just as Smith loses his purity when he enters the race” (The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, Wikipedia).

The hunger for possession that drives the psyche of the most rapacious of that class of humanity, has wrought fearful dispossession and destruction through their desire to both control and commodify without personal work or physical input of all that is necessity and valued by humanity.

From the time of the Oligarchs of ancient Greece to the Equestrian order speculators and capitalist traders of ancient Rome to the Captains of industrial revolution England and in our own day, the so-called “masters of the universe” traders in the stock exchanges of the world who constructed through ponzi-scheme creation a false boom-cycle that led to the most destructive collapse of the economies of many nations since the Great Depression of the 1930s … costing so many lives … all this damage and destruction while pleading an innocence of criminal intent. It can be deduced that the entrepreneurial/speculative middle-class is a most dangerous provocateur and saboteur of civilisation that culminates in their pièce de résistance of social control: Fascism!

There is also another short story that I treasure, and which I see as a fine, if somewhat more subtle condemnation of class distinction: “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” by James Joyce, where the young chap, a Mr O’Connor, down on his luck sits waiting in contemplation for some desperate pay to come from his employer, a scheming aspirant middle-class political wannabe. There is another player in the story who, I believe, represents the traitor to his class that can be found everywhere; the sycophantic Mr Henchy, who seeks to both appease those of his own class by siding with and slighting their employer and then beguiling his companions in an oleaginous way to embrace the coming to Ireland of the King of England … thereby betraying the revered memory of their late hero leader, Charles Stewart Parnell … betrayed, like the Irish people, by the priests and the Catholic political-class.

It has always been known that a traitor among one’s own class is the easiest of people for an opportunist to find. It is no more difficult to find the Judas here in our nation than in any other place. We are living in a time when our democracy has been sold to international corporations by one of our major political parties for no more than the legendary thirty pieces of silver. We see the nation being “governed” by a criminal gang with little more ethics than a collective Fagan, taking the wealth of the people and then denying them the services and opportunities for a decent and respectful life … the lot of a working person becoming nothing more than a beggar’s banquet of stingy wages and exhorbitant costs of living. The essential utilities; energy and water, the valuable raw materials sold-on at bargain basement prices to fellow corporate shareholders and the booty stashed, again Fagan like, in various tax havens while the citizens are made to go without because of a lack of fair-share tax collection from these high-profit, low-responsibility multi-nationals. “Just as rivers glisten in various colours, does a sewer look the same all over the world”.

What can we do?

Again, we can look to the past, since such avaricious behaviour is more a habit of a greedy mind than a genetic disposition, and we see the plebeians of ancient Rome walking away from the city in disgust at the lack of representation in a aristocratic government and threaten to start a new city over the other side of the Tiber River. We today cannot just up stakes and move to another location, so let us bring that location to us here … let us bring the mountain to Mohammed! Let us create a new society amongst the ruins of this capitalist disaster. Let us re-construct “Community” without the anal-retentive oversight of the money hungry middle-class. From small collectives, let us grow the food, make the products and educate the ones for our own needs, not for a “just in time” commodifying corporate body. We, in the working/producing body of citizens have all the skills required to re-make a society. Perhaps such a society removed from the waste of “profit motive production” can turn around the oncoming climate disaster that it seems this current collection of governing criothans has neither the capacity nor the inclination to do. Let them go to f#cking Mars, we are quite content with this paradise; Earth.

Certainly it will be an embracing of hard times … but has it ever been otherwise for the vast majority of us. Let there be a joining of the many multicultural peoples, the indigenous peoples, the unions and those of the middle-class who would join the “exodus” … let us place the first words on the page for a new story, Let us write; “In the beginning … “ for new hope, new life … and we could, perhaps, indeed demand that with the rejection of all that a degenerate profiteering-class stands for, we hereby proclaim ourselves with a collective of the many we become a union of one: one voice, one mind, one body, one goal; to proclaim independence from the non-producing, worthless bigots, racists and thieves … to proclaim that we are standing together against any storm that is thrown against us … for ours and our children’s future with not one … not two … but thrice cry of united defiance:

I STAND!
I STAND!
I STAND!

A quiet little corner of the world

A respectable tradesman I have known for many years told me of when he was a young blade, he and some friends rented a flat above a funeral director’s office and “workshop”. If they were busy and short-handed, they would call on him for some work. He didn’t mind as it helped pay the rent. In the early days the old hands would play jokes on him, with a sort of “black humour”. But sometimes he was roped into the more mundane activities of the industry. He told me of this little “event” … of course, I have taken the usual liberties with the story-line.

It went like this:

A Quiet Little Corner of the World

The van slowed momentarily in the driveway as Andy and Sam waited for the roller-door to open. A large sign embossed in black on the right hand side of the door said “TIMOTHY & SON Funeral Directors.” Sam pulled the van up inside the cavernous building. They had just opened the back door and were reaching in to take out the chipboard coffin when a voice called to them from the office.

“Hold it … leave it in there.” Andy and Sam straightened up and turned. “Leave it there”, the man repeated, “you’re going straight out again, to the cemetery”. Lanky Sam dropped his shoulders and slouched …

“Oh … right, tell me now … you could’a got me on the mobile … I went right past ‘Centennial’ on the way back here!”

“He’s not going to Centennial,” the man handed Sam a sheath of paperwork, threw in two thick boards and some rope then reached up to close the van door. Sam stepped to one side as he read the paper.

“Leighton Well!” he exclaimed. ”That’s an hour away … out in the sticks.”

“That’s right,” the man replied.

“Yeah … well,” Sam whined limply ”… and I gotta drive the Caddie’ this arvo for Mr Bannister’s funeral”.

“Right again,” the man agreed. ”So you better get a move on,” and he gently pushed a finger into Sam’s chest. ”Ay?”

Sam raised his hands pleading.

“But he’s only a ‘lossol’ … and there’s nothing but a cemetery at Leighton Well.”

”Three out of three! So you guessed right. He’s going to be interred at Leighton Well cemetery.”

“But they usually burn them when they got no rellies.”

“Well this one has rellies now and they want him buried A.S.A.P. So get a move on or you won’t be driving anything! Both of you.”

Sam sighed …

“C’mon, Andy, back on the road.” And he climbed in and started the engine. “Couldn’t it wait till tomorrow, John?” he called to the man.

“It could, but it won’t. The people want it done as soon as possible …. the council’s teed up an’ I’ve got the local backhoe out there already, working on the grave …  just get him in the ground so I can bill the rellies this afternoon an it’s all over and done with … alright?” and he turned away.

The shallow undulating mallee stretched away on both sides of the highway, the men spoke little, Sam, because he was piqued at the – to him – unnecessary burden of this unscheduled trip, and Andy because he was aware of Sam’s mood and being new to the job did not want to aggravate an old hand. But he was curious.

“What’s a ‘lossol’ and why do they usually burn them?” he inquired.

Sam turned a bored eye to Andy, sighed and spoke:

“A-Lost-Soul … lossol, get it … lost soul … a dead weight … a ward of the state … derelect, a retarded person, a nobody, no kin, no nobody … alone in the world … in this case” he jerked his head to the coffin in the back of the van, “Downs Syndrome.”

“And they burn them?”

“Costs less … much less … but I saw on the paper this one has a religion, or at least his kin have … don’t want a cremation? Next best thing: a cheap plot. And they don’t come any cheaper than Leighton Well.” Then there was silence.

“Poor bastard,” Andy muttered. Sam drove on in silence for a while, then, without turning his head spoke conciliatory to Andy:

“Some people are like that, more in the past than now you know, big family, well-heeled, well-respected in the district then along comes a misprint, so to speak … and, well, they don’t want to know about it, eh? Like I said, not so much now, but this fellah is an old one, I saw him last week … got run over on the road … I thought he was a ward of the state … rellies musta got in touch with John. Oh well.”

“But why so far out? I mean, nobody knows what a body’s like when it’s underground, if it’s a cripple or a dwarf or, or … or anything … it’s just a plot of ground with a tombstone on it.”

“The people who bury it know. The plots cost nothing out here. One thing you learn in this business, an that’s the family’s private opinion of those they bury. Too much pomp and ceremony, too little, too cheap, too garish you get to know the sincere ones just by their silences, their moods … their respect.” Sam changed back a gear to overtake a truck.

“Take Mr Bannister … big wheel in the district, big funeral, a whole heap of them coming down from town this afternoon.”

“Hey, a joke: Bannisters coming down … banister of a stair … ha ha! Coming down, get it … huh, huh?”

Sam looked to him and winced.

”Say, what’s it like driving the Cadillac?”

Sam snorted.

“As smooth as a silk shroud slipped over polished mahogany.”

Andy pursed his lips appreciatively and turned to gaze over the sun-drenched scrub.

The settlement of Leighton Well was one of those lost towns in the mallee. As many ruins as lived in houses, a service station cum general store and that was it … no church, no hotel, nothing. A sign on the far side of town pointed to the cemetery. The van turned down this road.

A man slouched against the wheel of a backhoe waved an arm to direct the van around to the plot. “Thought you’d never get here,” the backhoe driver complained.” Got a septic tank to put in this arvo,” he unnecessarily informed them.

Sam went to the hole and gazed in. He took a tape ruler from his pocket and lowered the end to the bottom.

“To the inch … eh?” the driver smirked. Sam turned a jaundiced eye to him and said nothing. The driver smiled.

“Get the boards and rope,” he ordered Andy. Once these were in place they went for the coffin.

“Pretty plain coffin,” the backhoe driver remarked.

They placed it on the boards. Sam straightened and looked around him.

“No-one to impress out here,” he remarked.

The driver moved to the side of the hole.

“Well, let’s get it over and done with … you two take the ropes and I’ll remove the boards,” the driver remarked impatiently.

Sam and Andy straddled the hole and lowered down the coffin. Their faces showed the strain of the job as they did so. The ropes were pulled out afterwards and taken to the van. The driver of the backhoe climbed up to the cabin and started the engine … he called out:

“If you want to say any last words now’s the time!” Sam winced at him.

“C’mon, Andy, let’s go.”

Andy paused, looked into the grave and then to the backhoe then to Sam …

“Hang on Sam, maybe we should say something.” He looked down to the coffin as he spoke, a sort of anxious mood about his words. Sam turned.

“Say what?”

“I don’t know, something. I’m new to this game … I don’t know … you must know some words,” he pleaded “It, it doesn’t seem right to just walk away.”

“There’s no words to say, is there?” Sam pinched the bridge of his nose; “He was a mongoloid, a nobody … people don’t speak to mongoloids, they speak at them … no-one loved him … he’s dead, he’s better off.”

The backhoe pushed some earth into the grave, Andy stepped back, looked to Sam in a astonished way then to the driver of the tractor.

“Hold it!” he cried. ”Wait … Sam … geeze, not like this … I mean well, God loved him, perhaps?”

Sam turned and winced.

“What-are-you f#ckin’ talkin’ about?” he approached Andy angrily, ”the poor prick’s born retarded, rejected by his kinfolk, grows up in an institution, gets run over by a … a f#ckin’dump-truck or somethin’ outside the sheltered workshop, is buried out in the sticks like a sick kangaroo and you tell me god loves him! Get in the van.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder and he strode away.

Andy lowered his head to gaze at the coffin and frowned, the backhoe driver made a questioning gesture with his face. Andy straightened his shoulders and closed his eyes. Sam sounded the horn from the van. Andy looked out over the mallee, the cemetery was on a gently sloping hillside and he could see the scrub run away to the horizon.

“Take the living humans away and this would be a pretty tranquil sort of place … a quiet place,” he thought to himself. He joined his hands clumsily, he wasn’t going to let this go without a little bit of respect.

“Dear God,” he tried to conjure up a picture of God but couldn’t … he let the God thing pass … all he was aware of was himself, the person in the newly-dug grave and the world around him, ”whoever you are, have pity on … on this person here … and … and may he rest in peace … in … in his own quiet little corner of the world.”

The Gender Contract

Let’s start by watching a short YouTube video; Semba Cesaria Evora.

Did you watch it? No? well go back and watch it … you have to so as to understand this post … says about it all when it comes to gender relations and without a word. Where have we gone wrong? What should be an equal distribution of respect of give and take has turned into an mostly male violent, free-for-all? Has it always been this way, that the alpha male has dominated the female in a no-choice oppression system of patriarchal rule?

Semba (masemba in plural) is a traditional music genre and dance genre from Angola that became popular in the 50’s. It is the product of an evolution as it was influenced by different ethno linguistic groups from Angola as well as several different African rythms. In the context of dancing, the word Semba means “the body of the man that comes in contact with the body of the woman at the level of the belly button”.

In one of the national Angolan languages called Kimbundu, Semba can also have the meaning of “Umbigada”. Umbigada describes also a dance movement when the contact between the two bodies is provoked by the man who suddenly takes the woman on the hip and brings her towards his belly button. The Umbigada movement is exactly what is still done today in the traditional dance from Angola called Rebita and other African dances. Before the arrival of the Portuguese the semba dance was part of traditional religion. Dancing accompanied the worship of the godess Kianda, in honour of whom food, clothing and other gifts were thrown into the sea.” (Quotes from various sources of general information on the internet).

I have to confess here and now, this gender topic is a very difficult theme for me to write upon … as a matter of fact, from a male point of view, it could be seen as one best avoided as it could bring the wrath of all things anti-male upon one. But f#ck it! I’ve not backed out of a good scrap yet and I’m not about to now! But there is also another reason why I find it rather traumatic … and the one is connected to the other..so to tackle one, I have to tackle the other because both are interconnected by what is now a national moral and ethical dilemma..

As an amateur writer of mostly emotive genre (if I can say it like that), I need to feel an emotional connect to both the story-line and the characters of which I write … and then, perhaps more importantly, I have to want to deliver those stories to my fellow country folk equal with my cultural sympathies … but lately, in perhaps the last few years, I have felt less and less connected to either of those two identities, ie, neither with characters now relevant in my community, nor with my fellow country people to whom I would wish to relate a story.

In the first instance, an attempted financial swindle perpetrated on me by a close kin relative shook my faith in that kinship connection. The attempt was made not out of disguised trickery, but up-front and with the open claim that it was quite legal to do so … never mind the moral or ethical or cultural betrayal of principle, just the fact that it was an available legal option was enough excuse to “try it on” seemed to legitimise it in their mind.

In the same vein, we saw a political example of this action with the by-election of New England, where the voters returned the late incumbent with an increased majority … overlooking the fact and indeed excusing the fact that he had predator’d and impregnated a young lady in an extra-marital fling, thereby betraying the trust of his spouse and family, his position of trust in his subordinate staff, betraying in turn that community trust of moral and ethical obligation expected in a government representative member of that constituency and claiming and expecting that “a person’s private life should be kept out of it” exemption … here again we have the apparent legal “termination of evidence” as it is not against the law to have an affair or deceive kin and community.

This crossing of legal, moral, ethical and with the increased awareness of sexual harassment of women in the workplace; social laws, we are come to a place where it is imperative that the lines between what is “right” as in law, and what is “decent” as in morals and ethics must be separated and adjudicated upon, lest we go too far down a road that has historically brought many societies totally undone.

And so we have to ask: Just where did all this need to dominate the female of the species go so wrong? Was it back in those days of tribal structures? If we look, as an example, to Tacitus’s records of behaviour of early Germanic peoples, which must have in some way reflected many tribal groups in Europe of those times:

The Germania of Tacitus

But the sharpest spur to their valour ( of the warriors ) is that each
separate squadron or column is not a mere casual aggre-
gation of chance-comers, but is composed of men of one
family and one kin ; and their households go with them
to the field, and the shrieks of their women and the
wailings of their children ring in their ears. Each

man feels bound to play the hero before such witnesses
and to earn their most coveted praise. To his mother and
to his wife he brings his wounds ; and they do not shrink
from counting them, nor from searching them, while they
carry food to the fighters and give them encouragement

VIII. Their traditions tell that more than once, when
a German line was wavering on the point of giving
way, the women rallied it, urgently entreating the
men to fight on, baring their breasts and crying out
that their captivity was at hand. Captivity for their
women is a thing the men abhor far more than for
themselves; so that, as a matter of fact, we always obtain
the firmest hold over those states which are compelled
to include amongst the hostages they send us some
maidens of noble birth. Nay, the Germans even ascribe
to women a certain inspiration and power of prophecy ;
they do not either despise the advice they give or
neglect their forecasts. Most of their tribes long gave
divine honours to Veleda, whom we saw as a prisoner
here in the days of the Emperor Vespasian, of blessed
memory; but there was also an Aurinia* in earlier
times, and many others likewise, whom they venerated
sincerely enough, though not with any idea of making
goddesses of them.”

Yet, when we look to Roman law of the times, we find the law of “Patria Potestas” enshrines dominance via a legal authority over a male’s family, property and kin. Is this the result of a “civilising” of the State, the inevitable result of the militarising of society so that those remnants of the tribal “warrior class” use a force of arms to seize not only political power, but also gender domination?:

“The Roman household was conceived of as an economic and juridical unit or estate: familia originally meant the group of the famuli (the servi or serfs and the slaves of a rural estate) living under the same roof. That meaning later expanded to indicate the familia as the basic Roman social unit, which might include the domus (house or home) but was legally distinct from it: a familia might own one or several homes. All members and properties of a familia were subject to the authority of a pater familias: his legal, social and religious position defined familia as a microcosm of the Roman state. In Roman law, the postestas of the pater familias was official but distinct from that of magistrates.

Only a Roman citizen held the status of pater familias, and there could be only one holder of that office within a household. He was responsible for its well-being, reputation and legal and moral propriety. The entire familia was expected to adhere to the core principles and laws of the Twelve Tables, which the pater familias had a duty to exemplify, enjoin and, if necessary, enforce, so within the familia Republican law and tradition (mos maiorum) allowed him powers of life and death (vitae necisque potestas)” (Pater familias).

We are a society that has come the full circle to a very dark place. We are at the crossroads of “which way do we proceed?”. We cannot oppress any one minority section of our multicultural society without elevating one ruling ethnicity to suppress them all … likewise, we cannot allow the male oppression of women without the condemning of us all to oblivion.

We cannot allow the overlooking of moral and ethical responsibilities to each other without brutalising each other … and in that at least, we do have a simple understanding of what social responsibility of the adult is; “room to move, room to grow, a right to decide.”

Now, if we can return to that dance: We see the complimentary movements of man and woman intertwined sylph like as two creatures of nature locked in ritual courtship. The woman enticing and alluring, the male encroaching and attempting to entrap and encompass … the woman then slipping from his grasp and out of his control, only to once again spin and twirl in voluptuous attraction to the man’s more brutish hunger … and if she decides to give herself to the male, it must be done on her own terms in her own good time … mesmerising!

Such should be the natural ebb and flow of man to woman relationships..indeed, I recall my own fragile youth when attempting to court young women, fraught with fumbling difficulty of trying to look and sound “cool” … just one wrong word or phrase … one “bad-hair” moment in style or dress could send a youth to “Coventry” for what seemed forever!

For those who read the article but didn’t click on the link to the video … here it is for your enjoyment:

Journo’s cameos

The sacred and inviolate institution of Australian mainstream journalism has been graced with many by-line geniuses for so long, it is difficult to imagine such icons of truth and courage in reporting in any other occupation other than what we have come to know and love them in!

Here, I offer some alternatives for your amusement … or whatever:

#1
When I try to imagine Mr Oakes in another occupation other than the one he is in now (just WHAT is he again?), I see him with one of those dull-blue, full length dust-coats on, the middle button is missing and the coat bulges there. There is some fidgety piece of something in his stumpy, work-stained hands and a vague questioning look on his face … it is obvious from residual crumbs on his cheek that he has just eaten. A self-employed service-mechanic … probably whitegoods, specialising in microwaves (he is recognised as a whiz at getting that ‘finish-bell’ to DING! just loud enough). His workshop is cluttered, the front counter greasy and it always takes three weeks to get anything fixed because “the part has to come from Melbourne”.

When you once again ring the desk bell with the little hand-written note next to it; “Ring Bell” that echos weakly in what must be a vast shed “out the back” to inquire on the progress of repair of an essential white-good, you get fronted with the once again dull surprise of said service-man holding an object in his hands and proclaiming in dull monotone that it is the “ffflllummmthing off the centrifugal drive-pump and it’s broke”. You are inclined in a moment of impish sardonic humour to inquire if it is those damn slithy-toves again … but you know it will be wasted, because he is just as likely to blithy say “no” and once again regret that it will take a while to repair because the part has to come from Melbourne … and you always leave cursing that he is the only service centre in the town and swearing you will get a new machine next time it breaks down, rather than darken his door again!

#2
Ms Grattan, on the other hand, could well fill the role of librarian … not in a state library, nor local council or university, but rather one of those ‘lost around the back-streets’ “Institute Library” of some anacronistic group like “The Ancient Order of Druids” or the “Oddfellows Society” or in her case; “The Steam Engines Assoc Institute”.

In her younger years, when she first started there, she was known as an innovator of style …she is recognised as the instigator of the “clutch ‘n’ carry method” for librarians carrying books … a colour-tinted photograph appeared in the “Woman’s Day” magazine of Feb 1953 demonstrating her unique grip on a large load of books … she has a copy archived at home and a cutting prominent on the wall behind her desk. She also gained a mention in “The Binder”, an inter-institute mag’, on her innovation of using different colour “tags-for-topics” on her Dewey-fileing system … that also is archived and a cutting etc.

She has no time for ‘untidy’, chatty people and denies she ever “encouraged” Mr Glanville Bartlett to propose and never regretted placing Sam “side-valve” Duggin’s donated, almost complete ‘Biggles’ collection on the “For sale – cheap” table by the front doors … citing one particular book; “Biggles Sees it Through” as rather too racy and suggestive a title for her library!

On one occasion and only the once was she asked at the desk by her old nemesis in literary knowledge; Gerry Dooge if she had any copies of “The Hite Report” on female sexuality, she haughtily replied; “What is THAT?”

She is still in situ.

#3
Fran’s tongue protruded slightly onto her lips as she placed the last stitches to tighten the “body-suit” of the doll she had just completed for the “West Wyalong Horticultural and Steam Engines Society extravaganza!” She sat the finished doll against the large, cross-stitched cellophane “trinket-box” she had entered in the 2001 show. The sorry memory of THAT moment brought a bitter twist to her lips … although she had gained the third place ribbon, it was a very distant third behind Lorna Roesler’s “Applique Autumn” tea-cosy and with it’s –just out of line-lid, it looked rather tawdry on the “winners circle” table next to Lorna’s entry. That cruel condescending smile from Lorna said it all.

To cap it off, at the end of the show, when all was being packed away, that crude and vulgar lump of “agro-culture” (as Fran describes him) Herman Saegenschnitter, picked her trinket box up in his big, dirty, clumsy hand, turned it over a couple of times, flipped the lid back and asked in his loud, vulgar voice:

“So what is it … a fart box?” … and he looked around to the others there and laughed and laughed … and then several others joined in. Not a memorable day at all.

Funny, ‘cos Fran used to enter and win many times in the cake section … that is until Annabel, that up-start “blow-in” from Woy Woy, with the Bondi Bouffant, pretentious foreign words and flamboyant dress-ups swept all before her with a new style and range of Italianate cup-cakes that made Fran’s Strawberry Lamingtons and Frog-cakes appear dowdy in comparison.

“Ahh … the world is a changed place”, she sighed.

Fran was talked into entering the “craft-doll section” by her old school chum; Michelle, now a Librarian in the big city. Michelle was entering too, she had made a replica “cabbage-patch” doll of unique expression … it reminded Fran of someone … but she just couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

Again she carefully perused her “Piglet” doll from “Winnie the Pooh” with her crafty eye for any defects of structure and character. All looked well … except … no, not really … but then perhaps … it was the mouth … that fine stitching that created the smile with the dimpled cheek … just there, on the right side … one stitch just a tad too tight had perhaps created a bit of a snarley look. And as she stared at the doll, she could not help but think of a picture she once saw of a Middle-Eastern king:

“Now who? Oh yes … Feisal … old King Feisal with his “curled lip” … oh dear!” she sighed. And she once again, just hoped they wouldn’t notice.

#4
Bazza swilled the ice-cube around the bottom of the tumbler in the dregs of the scotch whisky … he was a bit piqued that his favourite barman; Ron, wasn’t taking him seriously. “No-one takes me seriously anymore,” he thought.

“You see, Ron, I’ve thought about it … It’s the name: Bazza!” Ron was really too busy polishing glasses to be concerned … it was the latest ‘Barryism” in a long line.

“What’s wrong with Bazza?” he sighed. Barry continued:

“Well, it’s a “slogan name” isn’t it? You know, someone enters the room spots you, stops and in an exaggerated way “pistol-fingers” you with both hands and shouts so the whole room hears; “BAZZZAH!” like they’ve just had a eureka moment … how’s that make a bloke feel?” There was a depth of silence … “It’s like you gotta jump off your stool, face them arms and legs spread like a 96 lb weakling full-back trying to block a Jonah Lomu charge single-handed!”

In truth, Barry lamented his fate. He had the perfect situation, he had a captive audience, yet no matter how he pressed his point of view on a topical situation, they just didn’t seem to take any notice of him!

“I can’t understand it, Ron … the other day f’rinstance, I had Barnaby in the “big chair”, and I was asking him about all these Chinese buying our agricultural land and all he could do was to tell me Irish jokes! They just don’t take me seriously any more!”

Finally Ron had enough, he put the cloth down, the glass on the bar and looked Bazza direct in the eyes …

“Bazz … you’re a barber, not Parkinson. People come to you for a haircut, not a grilling on the economy … just do your job, charge your fee and be happy!”

Bazz blinked a couple of times, but Ron could see it was a wasted effort … the lights were on but nobody was home.

“Glad you reminded me, Ron. Quick, give us another shot of that scotch … I got Tony in the chair this afternoon for a short back and sides … I wanna have a steady hand with the cut-threat!”

The Pencil

With all these revelations of sexual harassment and workplace bullying, I thought I’d slip in a little anecdote that I heard on the job many years ago. Strange, the places life takes you …

In all the years I worked as a sub-contractor for the Greeks, I worked on my own. I found that it was the best way to have control of my time and workload. But every now and then, there would be a commercial building job that required another chippie to keep the schedule moving and up to date. On one of these jobs, an older carpenter was brought in to do some finishing work, while myself, being a young bloke then could do the ‘heavy lifting’ … we got to chatting at smoko after a couple of days on the job. His name was Mark, an older bloke, as near to retirement as I was far away from it. He’d be long gone by now so I’ll tell you what he told me.

I was not long married and we were expecting our first child, so was full of that “new parent keenness” sort of thing. I told him of our expectations.

“You got any kids?” I asked.

“Two, girls … by my second wife,” he replied.

“Oh … none from your first ?” I asked.

“No, we never got around to it … only married a few years,” he spoke as he shelled a boiled egg.

“That’s bad luck,” I offered.

“Not as bad as it would’ve been if we stuck together! She cleared off with my work-partner.”

“Christ! That’s a bit rich,” I said. Mark shrugged.

“A long time ago now.”

“I never had any work partner.” I reflected.

“Yeah? Good idea … but we’d known each other (the partner and myself) since our apprenticeship days … and when the big building companies folded back in the seventies, we formed a partnership … first fix roofing.”

He sat back with his legs crossed and sort of stared ahead in some thought while he ate the egg. Of course, being an inquisitive chap (I love a good gossipy story!), I was dying to hear some more … but there are times and there are times … I knew now was not the time to pry, so I left it to the next week at smoko. I then took up the story with him:

“That partner you had, was he a good tradie or the bludger type … I ask, since you say he took off with your wife …. I was wondering if you had to carry him on the job?”

“ No, no … he was a bloody good tradesman … knew the job inside out … much brighter than me. He used to do the quoting and setting out … that was probably my downfall.”

“How’s that?” I asked.

“Well, he would leave me with the cutting-list, say, and take off for a couple of hours to do a quote and I’d be there on the job cutting the timber and he’d come back and we’d get stuck into it.” He sat back and pondered a moment … ”You know … I probably would never have found out when I did except for that one small slip with the pencil.”

“What pencil?” I was now very curious.

“These pencils … you know; these thick carpenter’s pencils.” And he motioned to the one in the top pencil-pocket of his overalls. He took it out and turned it over to show me three little cuts near the top. “That’s my mark … I put it on all my tools and things … it’s a habit since my apprentice years … so you know your gear.“ Mark put the pencil back into the pocket and leant back against the wall, “I shoulda’ worked it out a bit sooner … like when my partner Dave’s wife bumped into me at the shops one day and asked me to join her in a coffee there …

She asked me then out of the blue if I thought Dave was having an affair. I was gobsmacked … ’Dave, I repeated … nah … can’t see it … he’s always on the job ’cept when he goes to do a quote, an’ then he’s usually only gone an hour or two. I had to think a bit … Nah! … Can’t see it.’ I said again’ …. but it did stick in my head for some reason.”

Mark leant to his lunch-box and took out a snack-bar … he continued:

“It was about a month or so after that chat that I was there on the job early, setting up … I was at my tool-box marking these six new pencils I had bought the night before from the hardware store … I sharpened one for myself and had just put the remaining five into the top drawer of my tool-box when Dave was at my shoulder … ’Ah!’ he said, ‘I’ll have one of those if you don’t mind, I’m all out of them.’ I gave him a new one.”

Mark again stopped as if in deep thought and stared ahead … he was like that … then he continued:

“It was that very night, actually. I was putting my slippers under the bed and when I lifted the valance there, I saw the pencil … it was one of my carpenter’s pencils with my mark on it … I picked it up and said my thought out loud:

“What’s this doing here?” … and the missus looks over her shoulder and mumbled something like:

”It must have dropped out of your pocket.” I just accepted that, shrugged and put it on the bedside table to take to work in the morning.

I never gave it a second thought, to be honest … and I never would have again except when I got to the job, Dave was already there, up on the roof doing some measuring. I went to my tool box, took out my nail-bag and remembered the pencil in my pocket from last night … I opened the top drawer and saw four new pencils there … I automatically put my hand into my nail-bag and felt and took out the new pencil I had put there yesterday …”

Mark stopped, frowned, like he was going through the moment all over again, recalling it step by step:

”I remember I was thinking to myself … I’m not a fast thinker y’know..an’ I’m not quite ‘with it’ sometimes, if you know what I mean … and I’m sort of confused trying to work this thing out. There’s the four pencils in the tray … there’s the one in my nailbag … five … an’ here’s the one I found under the bed last night … that makes six. Hang on, didn’t I give one to Dave yesterday before he went to do that quote and if so how come I have six again now? And then that meeting with Dave’s wife an her thinking of him having an affair and the pencil I gave him and him going for a quote … how come I have six now? And then the wife’s; “It must have fallen from your pocket” … all this sort of jumbled stuff. Of course the LAST THING on my mind was any idea of Dave … of Dave and my wife … and it might still have been explained away except at that moment, Dave calls out from the rafters; ’Mark! Can you throw me up another of those pencils … the other must have dropped from my pocket’ … but I was in the middle of this dammed awful thing and wasn’t hearing him properly till it all twigged with him bloody calling to me over and over:

“Mark … Mark … the pencil … the pencil …”

A Court of Public Sessions

I hereby propose that we, the people, institute on the internet via social media a new principle in the idea of Trial by Public. In short an online Court of Public Sessions … where a group or corporation or political party be assigned a generic nickname (to by-pass litigation) like for instance; The MSM (mainstream media) … or The Right-wing Govt’ … or The Banking Sector … or The Dog F#cker … or Planet Janet etc, and they be accused, charged, put on trial in a Public Court and evidence for and against taken directly off internet archives be placed open to you-us-we; The Public … A known legal or judicial person on the bench to control proceedings. And let the process of Public Judgement be done.

From Wikipedia, The Open Court Principle:

“The open court principle requires that court proceedings presumptively be open and accessible to the public and to the media.

In contrast, in camera describes court proceedings where the public and press are not allowed to observe the procedure or process.

Purpose

The virtues of openness were discussed by the Supreme Court of Canada in A.G. Nova Scotia v. MacIntyre which quoted eighteenth-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham:

In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. Where there is no publicity there is no justice. Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial.

As noted by the Supreme Court of Canada, the open court principle enhances the public’s confidence in the justice system:

Public access to the courts guarantees the integrity of judicial processes by demonstrating “that justice is administered in a non-arbitrary manner, according to the rule of law”. Openness is necessary to maintain the independence and impartiality of courts. It is integral to public confidence in the justice system and the public’s understanding of the administration of justice. Moreover, openness is a principal component of the legitimacy of the judicial process and why the parties and the public at large abide by the decisions of courts.

The open court principle is linked to the freedom of expression and freedom of the press which include the right of the public to receive information. The press plays a vital role as the conduit through which the public receives information regarding the operation of public institutions.”

Seeing as how there appears to be little or no oversight from the Fourth Estate (the mainstream media) or any capability of the judiciary or the Governor General to act to stall the apparently reckless rampage by this right-wing vandalism of our democracy and governance, I say that perhaps it is time the public took matters into its own hands and called to order its own Court of Public Trials and dragged those obvious criminals into the dock and make them plead their case before a “Public Beak” and face the judgement of the people for their delinquency!

There are many legal people on social media who may want to be a part of such raucus proceedings … indeed, it would be great if we could inject that touch of legalese into the process..and even better it would be if we could attract a real retired “beak” to sit “on the bench” to oversee the court proceedings.

Sure it will be a “Star Chamber” or a “Kangaroo Court” and an effing wild one at that with no holds barred! It is the very idea of dragging the bastards into the Public Square and making them plead their case … even if “in absentia” … we will use information and their own quoted words directly off their own interviews or articles from the internet … it is all out there! And their case will be held to public judgement “beneath the shadow of the guillotine”!

Perhaps if it got big enough to attract enough “views” and “hits”, a individual web-page replete with courthouse scene and side-panels for witness statements and “anonymous information drops” etc could be set up … turning it into a semi-legitimate public trial mechanism where the results could be sent to the appropriate authorities for follow-up proceedings.

I’d like to see the MSM brought to the bench, with reference to “Faux News” and “Aunty” being accused of deliberate disinformation and avoidance of reporting on the scurrilous activities of “one of the New England candidates” in the recent by-elections and how their actions betrayed and distorted the moral and ethical proprieties necessary to democratic governance … as an example.

I’d also like to see “certain political parties in a position of power” using public funds for their own political electioneering by bribing and corrupting voters in certain by-elections to distort the moral and ethical proprieties necessary etc, etc.

I can visualise the court’s proceedings being promoted and reported on in Twitter and Facebook and other instant delivery media to attract attention to the site. It could be a bloody good thing! And to finish with a quote from that most wise advocate, Clarence Darrow:

“The audience that storms the box-office of the theater to gain entrance to a sensational show is small and sleepy compared with the throng that crashes the courthouse door when something concerning real life and death is to be laid bare to the public.
Everyone knows that the best portrayals of life are tame and sickly when matched with the realities. For this reason, the sophisticated Romans were wont to gather at the Colosseum to feast their eyes on fountains of real blood and await breathlessly the final thrust. The courtroom is a modern arena in which the greatest thrills follow closely on each other. If the combat concerns human life, it presents an atmosphere and setting not unlike those cruel and bloody scenes of ancient Rome.” (Clarence Darrow: “How to pick a jury”).

The court is now in session!

From Authority to Power

From privilege to command to expectation to demand.

How many of us ever obtain an edge of authority? Of course, as a citizen in a perceived democracy, we each of us have a certain amount of “authority” to demand our rights as a citizen … but in no way do we have authority to command. Yet there are those among us who through one set of circumstances or another see themselves as having that expectation to demand certain beliefs, rules, actions and cultural principles from those around us.

Once, Christian religion would claim it had “Authority from God” to proselytise, but that was when it didn’t want to be seen competing with vain Emperors for divine power. Once it was adopted (after much political lobbying) as the State religion supplanting Paganism, it suddenly claimed that it now had the “Power of God” to demand certain behaviours from the brethren … and anyone else that could be forced or coerced to “believe” or suffer the pain of death upon refusal.

Likewise in our democracy, we, the people, have seen those we have voted to Parliament morph’ from being “humbled beyond measure” to be granted the authority to serve “this great country” and everybody in “this great country” for the good of all” … and after all, isn’t that what democracy is all about?” … To using false data, false flag events, contrived terrorism scares to now “demand” by the power of the State  invested in me” … and so on and so forth … to inflict the most restrictive and oppressive burdens on the most vulnerable. We have gone from Authority to Power without any sort of oversight or sunset clause. From a granted privilege to command to a perceived right to demand!

How does authority segue from rule of law provisions to dictatorship by decree? Where does this self-proclaimed tyranny arise from? Not surely from a doting parent’s spoiling of the child, for that would only go so far in any company … Not from one’s workmates in the field, for that would only meet with derision and ultimately a kick up the arse. So it must come from another source that can educate into a child’s mind all the nuances of expectation of a certain class of society … and that would have to be where many of those receiving similar indoctrination would not feel out of place believing and indeed, practicing a form of “rule by tyranny” on those beneath both their contempt or seniority.

The private/elite school education system … Where the wealthy and the many wannabe hopefuls send their children to obtain instruction in the gentle arts of bastardry: Supercilious authority, sneering condescension, vainglorious belief in self, total respect for the rule of capital over the rule of law. And entrance into a vast network of like-minded, small-minded middle-class wankers unfit for most useful though complex activities like the boiling of water and best slotted into positions of authority where such concentrated psychosis is put to the worst use … perhaps to even become a LNP Prime Minister … like Malcolm Fraser (traitor to our democracy) … the wannabe; Alexander Downer (career wanker) … John Howard (crimes against humanity) … Tony Abbott (trousers man), and finally now the creme-della-crème of shit for brains – jelly for backbone Malcolm Turnbull ( … what!?). And remember, these are the finest representatives of such concentrated psychosis … the worst has been spared this nation (so far) and inflicted upon America!

These “Great Colleges” have been spewing out the most gormless (by percentage) “consciousness of kind” arseholes for more years than there are excuses for their incompetent behaviour. These “Great Colleges” have been taking public monies of more billions than the tax-breaks for the parents of the kids who attend their privileged halls. But what have they really given the nation in return? If we were to go by the above list of LNP Prime Ministers … and that is the usual channel that those hungry for power row their canoe down … then we can claim to have been seriously dudded. If we look to the majority of LNP ministers currently in the House of Reps, then we have been taken for absolute fools! If we look to the “leaders of industry”, then you need look no further than the list of court proceedings and current and future goal inmates.

Time to be rid of this pestilence … I call on a future Labor government to seriously restrict Private School funding to no more than “pencils and ink” support … and direct public monies into public education. I call on a future Labor government to stop giving tax exemption to the religions and to investigate the networks that fast-track “old school tie” graduates into positions of authority. I call on us citizens to isolate those graduates from such elite institutions we meet in our lives that demand the rest of us follow their every diction and “informed” direction in both our opinions and lifestyle.

I have noticed that this segue from a position of authority to a attitude of power has even infiltrated onto social media … where we are slowly being restricted to blogs, commentary and views of the educated elite … their “in-house opinions” gaining ascendancy over the more “aggressive radical ”, the more “difficult” and the more “ intuitive” of those from working-class environs. One can pick the “set pieces” that allow a “safe” letting off of steam but never go too far to demand total radicalism or far-left change. One can often find the “tch tch” of the waving finger of self-proclaimed authority reprimanding those running too close to stepping over the imaginary boundary of middle-class cultural decencies … To the ultimate castigation that casts one into the wilderness of “not-amused” silence … That supreme weapon of dis-approval inflicted almost as a unanimous and instant mutual agreeance “murmuration” that has been educated into those minds by their tutors as “not deserving of comment” by a “better class citizen such as yourself ” … well suck eggs! Social media now has a reach open to every individual with many free blogs where one can voice one’s opinions and a twitterverse where one can promote one’s blogs with a freedom of speech never more available to everyperson. If one “cannot stand the heat, best stay out of the kitchen”, because with elections coming up this year, it is going to boil over very soon! I am ready for it. ARE YOU?

I call for a revolution against upper middle-class tyranny!

I call for political governance by the educated working classes!

“Away with all pests!”

Rome must fall …

I am unsure if I have posted this here before or on my own blog … but I have in any case up-graded it and present it here for your perusal.

You have to read this cameo of historical example first:

“The Visigoths, severed from their brethren but saved from the brunt of the Mongol assault by the mere fact that they lived further west than the Ostrogoths, desperately sought protection by appealing to Rome for asylum. There, they ran up against an impermeable shield of customs stations at the Roman border, a veritable wall of imperial disdain which was by then standard policy when barbarians began wailing and waving their hands. Thus squeezed between scorn and the spear, the Visigoths panicked and not a few tried to push their way into Roman territory. Facing a surge of frantic immigrants, the Roman Emperor Valens had little choice but to relent and let them in.

Once inside the boundaries of Rome, the Visigoths found safety but at the same time a new and in many ways more dangerous foe. As new-comers to Roman civilization, they were ill-equipped to live in a state run on taxes and mired in the complex language of legalities, and thus made easy prey for unscrupulous, greedy imperial bureaucrats who cheated and abused them. Very quickly, the Visigoths found themselves bound in something heavier and more constricting than chains—the gruesome coils of red tape—and they responded as any reasonable barbarian would: they demanded fair treatment and, when their pleas went unheard, they embarked upon a rampage.

Valens called out his army, a threat meant to intimate the Visigoths into returning to their designated territory and tithe. But like the truant step-children they were, the barbarians remained disobedient. Left with no other recourse but corporal punishment, Valens met the Visigoths in combat at the Battle of Adrianople (378 CE) in northeastern Greece, and what happened was not only unexpected but unthinkable to any Roman living then, or dead. Primed by the insults to their pride—or because they were simply scared out of their minds—the Visigoths defeated and massacred the Roman legions sent to keep them in their room. Worse yet, Valens himself was killed in the course of the conflict” (The Fall of Rome: Facts and Fictions).

The desperation of the Goths is reflected in this day and age by the mass of refugees fleeing several conflicts and disasters and trying to come to Australia. There is a series of circumstances afoot, both political and climate that is urging the one against the other to move whole peoples in an unstoppable surge of desperation for safety and refuge. The blunt refusal to take any “boat people” may not be the best solution for the Australian government. Also risky of course is any uncontrolled “open border” policy that creates an expectation of a surge of refugees to Australia’s shores. There has to be a regional solution. The Anglo/European governing class is in the process of hauling up the draw-bridge in the hope of maintaining a kind of purity of rule of both blood-line and class … as the above example demonstrates, it will fail and fail badly and brutally.

If history tells us anything, it is that once an idea of social direction whose time has come is blocked or deliberately stalled, the society explodes and civil destruction follows … Just as the western Roman Empire had to fall, so perhaps must we here adjust ourselves to the idea that we need to change the make-up of both houses of parliament to allow for the inevitability of a change of cultural expectations in the next several decades that truthfully reflect our geographic location and by consequence the political inevitability in the world.

The notion that a middle-class majority of Anglo/Euro members of parliament is de rigueur to govern our fast rising multi-cultural population is short-sighted. We can choose to secede power in a regulated way, adjust politely to a confederacy of mutual understanding or stubbornly refuse to admit what is fast becoming the bleedin’ obvious of Asian influence and needs of majority population.

The above quote is part of a broader study in why the Roman Empire in the West had to fall so Europe could arise. The Roman Empire was a colonizing state that controlled with arms, ruled with fear and milked with impunity via a capitalist system of the wealthy controlling production and distribution. The 1-3% that held the greatest wealth also held the greatest influence over political policy and ruled the masses with disdain that eventually destroyed itself in the most dramatic way.

Divide and rule was perfected in the Roman strategy … populations would be shunted from one side of the empire to the other so there would be little sympathy to local customs and mores, thereby polarizing those groups of peoples to compete against each other. Likewise, soldiers from western provinces of Gaul were sent to hold the eastern provinces of Palestine … and vise versa. Rule and profit by division worked well while these 3% held absolute control of the military. Once those trained, foreign generals like Alaric became isolated, they gathered their loyal soldiers about themselves and using their trained skills, turned them against the empire itself.

Australia is itself a colony, with all the states separate colonial developments before federation. The nation still shows signs of that early colonial independence and attitude, with some states threatening succession even now! The colonial mentality and its governance by an elite is in evidence still. The divide and rule program very much in practice still … The use and abuse of cheap immigration labour a desire if not also a common practice. The playing of ethnic groups against each other for political purpose still in operation.

We are continuing the practice that failed the Roman Empire so spectacularly and only insanity could desire a success where they failed so miserably! Australia has to develop a new way, a better way to confront this twenty-first century phenomenon of the surge of asylum seekers that have swept across the globe from east to west and west to east. If we continue to believe and practice a “raise the drawbridge” policy, we will be open to the legitimate criticism of demanding an unrealistic isolationist existence in a region of realistic inclusion. The added reality of climate change with rising sea levels and drying cropping areas in the delta regions of Sth East Asia could bring a avalanche of climate refugees who have little sympathy with a resource rich, land rich, population poor nation just over that stretch of water.

Military arms alone will not, as the above historical example shows, stop the surge of desperate people who may not have anything left to lose.

Australia needs to engage much, much more cooperatively and socially with our northern neighbours to create a regional safety net for any temporary shifts of population as required after any disasters , natural or sociological, to allow a safety-valve result rather than an uncontrolled explosive conflagration. To consolidate our “authority” over the land of this continent, we also need to very quickly complete a treaty with the Indigenous peoples and to bring those peoples completely into the political process and policy making of this nation. For they are the measure of integrity of antiquity of ownership of the nation and for us who migrated here from everywhere else, to claim a right of rule over the land, we have to allow equal partnership with an agreed treaty with the original inhabitants of this land … it only stands to reason.

Rome had to fall so that a democratic Europe could arise … We here in Australia must learn from the hard experience of Europe and begin to implement attitude and social change to create a more homogeneous governance with this multicultural population, or risk the result foreseen in history of the demise of our ideal of social order and civil governance.

“Dead souls”

The title of this piece is from the Russian novelist Nikolai Gogol.

“The purpose of the novel was to demonstrate the flaws and faults of the Russian mentality and moral character. Gogol portrayed those defects through Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov and the people whom he encounters in his endeavours. These people are typical of the Russian middle-class of the time” (Wikipedia).

I believe we have reached a nationalist age level (if not yet an adult one) of maturity where we will have to confront the moral and ethical vacuum resident in our national communities. The decline of moral and ethical politics over the last few decades is a reflection of deep-seated flaws in the social contract between the structural/social classes in the community. The lack of interest in examining the moral and ethical standards of those members that have been elected to Parliament in the last few elections demonstrates a set of principles of integrity sadly lacking in the electorate.

The emphasis by those candidates on economic reward for choosing them over their opposition even after accusations of scurrilous moral or ethical behaviour shows a keenness in the communities more for financial blackmail than for social good – in short, it demonstrates that the voter base can be bought – and once an object is bought, it is “owned” by the purchaser.

“In the Russian Empire, before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, landowners had the right to own serfs to farm their land. Serfs were for most purposes considered the property of the landowner, who could buy, sell or mortgage them, as any other chattel. To count serfs (and people in general), the measure word “soul” was used: e.g., “six souls of serfs”. The plot of the novel relies on “dead souls” (i.e., “dead serfs”) which are still accounted for in property registers. On another level, the title refers to the “dead souls” of Gogol’s characters, all of which represent different aspects of poshlost (a Russian noun rendered as “commonplace, vulgarity”, moral and spiritual, with overtones of middle-class pretentiousness, fake significance and philistinism)” (Wikipedia).

Hence we have a governing class of politicians who juggle their policy mandates to suit their class economics, with little consideration for those from the working classes who suffer grievously from such decisions. We saw tens of thousands of household incomes lost through the cancelling of subsidies for the car industry, while billionaires in the mining sector were granted personal tax relief. We saw other tens of thousands of household incomes lost through outsourcing to overseas interests those jobs in IT, banking, airlines servicing, telecommunications, manufacturing and energy while stripping away funding from higher education and trade training here at home … purely to satisfy the barefaced lie that it would “save the bottom line in the budget”. We see hundreds of thousands of workers on cheap labour wages brought into the country on temporary visas to satisfy dis-loyal employers hunger for cheap labour.

The people who are “managing” this chaos of class-warfare, are of the same pedigree who sent us in the space of one hundred years into two World Wars, a depression in between in the 1930s, stultifying conservatism of the Menzies era culminating in the gross destruction of a war in Vietnam, the betrayal of the National Political Trust with the Whitlam Dismissal, an unlimited farrago of credit driven by a shonky stock market surge in the 90s (“go on, have a go … it’s going gangbusters!”) , followed by the inevitable Global Financial Crisis of the 2000s and now another blundering about with absolutely no idea of direction by another conservative government as we head to a crisis of Global Warming and yet they STILL spruik the benefits of burning coal over renewables. These people who are managing us are the private school, elite university trained bozos of the upper-middle class who talk like they have both descriptive nouns and money to burn but in reality do not know shit from clay … their arsehole from their elbow.

Seriously … they do – not – know – shit – from – clay … but they do know which side of the bread the butter is on and by Christ they spread it thickly when it suits themselves! This clueless class has had its moment in the sun. “MOMENT!” did I say … they are baked f#ckin’ dry! … They are already struggling to lie their way into the next election and only a lack of clear choice will give them a chance. There needs to be an indelible line drawn under the rule of middle-class politics … they are finished … they have proven over time that they cannot govern, only rule, they cannot manage, only demand and they cannot advance into the future, only retreat into a fantasy world of their own delusional past.

There needs to be secession from middle-class-capitalist politics to more equitable management of social contract of working-class politics. The trade unions and representatives of the indigenous peoples along with honest representatives of commerce and industry (cough! cough!) need to be brought into the inner circle of governance … no longer a single Head of State, but rather a “Tetrarchy” head of four to divide the nation into four governing quarters combining with State Governments.

With this form of governance, there is more chance for those of the educated working-class to step-up to positions of responsibility through Local or State Authorities via Union activity or Indigenous or cultural serving abilities. This will also put an end to “charismatic leadership”, where the oleaginous main-stream media can promote an individual from the LNP of doubtful moral and ethical quality to rule the nation … as the only way to the top will be through channels of merit, a path more than not denied by intellect and ability to those from the private school system.

The time of sole middle-class politics is ended, the chaotic voting patterns seen in recent elections of both Houses has left us with a host of wannabe crazies with no hope of redemption and less of usefulness cogitating on bills and laws totally beyond their limited imagination.

There is only one class of citizen with the experience and life-skills inherent in their workaday lives to understand truly what depth and responsibility a social contract requires..that is the working-class..pure and simple … time to reject the failed idiot sons and daughters of the wealthy and bring in new blood and hope to the chaos of Australian politics.

“The institution of a leisure class is found in its best development at the higher stages of the barbarian culture; as, for instance, in feudal Europe or feudal Japan. In such communities the distinction between classes is very rigorously observed; and the feature of most striking economic significance in these class differences is the distinction maintained between the employments proper to the several classes…” (Thorsten Veblen; The Theory of the Leisure class).

To the Lighthouse

A new year’s reflection …

“One must forgive the young their foolishness, for without them, there would not seem so much wisdom in old age” (Socrates).

Ah! … Friday nights, didn’t we look forward to them. But we were young and carefree in those days. A group of us young bucks would meet after work at the Seacliff Hotel on Fridays and imbibe of the amber fluid and see what came of the evening. We were mostly working lads, so our thirsts were dry and encouraging.

I happened to be the first there that night, so I’d only taken my first drought of beer and settled back one-arm-on-the-bar surveying the scene, when in walks Mark. Mark was a big stocky fellow then, before the years and a beer-gut increased accordingly.

“Another schooner please, Noela.” I said to the barmaid before Mark reached me.

“G’day, Mark. How’s the land lie?” I greeted him.

‘Hrmph! Not much better than yesterday … ta, Noela.”

“Why the long face? Say … I heard you bought yourself a car!”

“HAD, you mean … past tense … an’ I only had it three days!”

“Righto then,” I turned and put both my forearms on the bar-top …. ”out with it … what’s the dirt?”

“Bloody Mick!” Mark spat the words out.

“More!” I demanded.

“Last night we were in here having a drink,” he started … (I motioned to Noela for a beer for myself and nudged the coins on the bar and gave her the wink and a sign to keep refilling them). ”You know then that car I got from one of Mick’s mates who was going back to Sydney or somewhere and it had a “yellow canary” on it for bald back tyres? Well, Mick suggested I buy the car ’cause I could get it for a song.” Mark paused for a drink and a sigh, then continued …

”But I haven’t even got a licence … I said to him … ’You’ll get one one day,’ said Mick ‘and until then I can drive you around, since I don’t have a car.’ Mark rolled his eyes … “Say! Have you heard about Mick’s car?”

“I have not” I replied.

“Ah! … it’s another story. I’ll tell you later … he smashed it anyhow … again!” Mark waved his hand as if to erase the thought from his mind.

“Well,” he continued “I’d had enough beer by then to be a little bit foolish, so between one thing and another, I bought the car … ‘64 Falcon … green … I think!”

Mark sighed and plonked his hand down on a packet of smokes which he flung the lid off in an angry gesture and lit one up ecstatically.

“A man’s a fool!” he philosophised.

“Well, we were in here last night, me, Mick and Jim … You know Jim … the bullshit-artist? Yeah, that’s him! Me and Jim and Mick, just where we’re sitting now … and the car’s there outside the window in the street and I was feeling a little proud, I admit it, I’d never owned a car before, you see?”

“Anyway … (yes thanks, Noela) … we’re sitting here an’ Mick leans over to Jim and me and whispers like it was a national secret: ‘I know where I can get a good “deal” tonight’ ”

“Oh yeah!” I said “Where; The Brighton?”

“Yeah … good heads … good price too!” Mick was keen. Suddenly, there was “Brain’s” face hanging over my shoulder..”How much?” Brain asks.

I tell you, if there’s even a sniff of dope within half a mile of Brain, he’s on to it. And God! Doesn’t it look like he’s full of it! If it can be smoked, drank chewed or injected … but then I ‘spose that’s why he’s called “Brain” … Oh God! … His eyes!”

“How much?” Brain repeats himself. He’s standing there trembling like a distempered dog … anyway, between the long and short of it, we scrape our money together … I lent Brain his share … and we send Mick to buy a bag.”

“He gets back about an hour later lookin’ like he’s smoked half of it away. He gave us the nod from the door and we all finished our beers and went out to the car. He showed us the “deal”.

“And the rest, Mick!” Jim said. He knew Mick like he knows himself, eh? After a good deal of threatening from us he handed over some more he’d kept ‘ for commission’ he said.”

“Well, we decided to got up to the lighthouse and have a couple of joints. Mick’s driving like he usually does, so he does a few ‘ring-a-rounds’ on the grass and we park and smoke away. When we decided to go, Mick does another bunch of 360s just to make an idiot of himself and then goes and slides the car into a ditch on the slope and gets stuck … of course, you know Mick; plants his foot till smoke’s pouring off the tyres!”

” ‘Hold on dickhead!’ I shouted, ‘we’re not going anywhere like this … we’ll have to get out and push’ … we were standing at the boot, all off our faces as it was … ’No, Mick … YOU … stay in the car and steer … OK? Yeah, right ‘ ”

Well, there we were, an the stars were shinin’ … shinin’ an’ the lighthouse light is goin’ blink … blink … FLASH! … jeez, y’know..it was a beautiful night … so it took us a little while to notice the grass had caught on fire under the car..probably off the muffler up it went! WHOOSH!

’Mick, Mick,’ we yelled (shoulda’ kept our mouths shut!) an he got out just in time.

Man … we were panicking. Brain was freaking out, he just stood there moaning, ‘Oh man, oh man’ … and staring.”

“I’ ll go to a house’, I shouted, ‘and call the fire brigade’.

I tell you I went to four houses over the other side of that gully before someone would listen to me. I don’t blame them on reflection, I dunno what I was sayin’ … and the people in the forth house could see the problem without me babbling a word. He just looked over my shoulder and the grass on the whole side of the hill was on fire. I heard the sirens then and it was all over bar the shouting. When I got back to the fenceline, Jim, Mick and Brain were standing there silhouetted against the flames. Jim went into bullshit mode and started to detail about how it reminded him of “when he used to burn the sugar-cane crops up in Bundaberg” … I told him to ‘shuddup, Jim … just shuddup!’

“Well, that was last night. This morning, I wasn’t feeling too good, but around comes Mick to pick up me an’ Jim an’ we drive up to the lighthouse to see the damage. The car’s a write-off, gutted except the rear-end and the boot … you know those new tyres I put on to get the coppers to wipe off the “yellow canary”? … Well, someone stole both wheels … must’av been the only thing on the whole car worth saving … and to add insult to injury, I’m standing there, really depressed an’ thinkin’; ‘ well … at least I owned a car for three days! ‘ … suddenly Mick makes this gasping sound, like a sharp intake of breath, leaps to the passenger-side door, throws it open and flips open what remained of the glovebox.”

“Oh SHIT!” Mick cried painfully … ”There was a whole “deal” in that glovebox!”

“Man … I coulda’ wept. ”Mark shook his head disbelievingly. His hand plopped down again on his smokes.

“Two pints this time thanks, Noela”. He sighed.

A work of art … or … the art of work?

The motivation for this piece came from four flat-box displays of ladies embroidered cotton/lace handkerchiefs. I had purchased them some years before at a garage sale for the pitiful sum of fifty cents each box … one from Nth Ireland, two from Switzerland and the other from China. Looking at them in their tissued, flat boxes, with the delicate lace-edges folded into diamonds or squares, the brilliant white contrasted with the small embroidered flowers and sundry delicate patterns, I thought them too, too beautiful to be used other than as a display. So I made four frames and placed those “works of art” behind glass to be admired rather than soiled. I could imagine the girls or women hard-at-work, worrying over those pieces of cloth. Pieces of work became pieces of art … hence the title of this article!

I am an artisan (tradesman) … my father was an artisan (stone-mason) … the people who made those hankies were artisans, a multitude of people producing, constructing, moulding, knitting and on and on are artisans … coming from the French; “without art”.

Getting back to my father – the stone-mason – in his employment around Adelaide he built many stone walls and such. He built that curving weather wall along the Glenelg foreshore … by the sideshows (it is gone now). He told me years later that if I was to go to one particular place along that wall, I could see, shaped within the stone work, a map of Italy, with all the provinces in varying shades of stone, built cunningly into the wall! Indeed; a cunning stunt! Artisan becomes artist!

So perhaps it could be proposed: Who stationed “artists” and “artisans” in their prospective environs? What are the boundaries of these environs, ie; when does artisan become artist and vice-versa? Can art be interpreted as the “one-off” piece of deliberate intent? If an artisan uses his craft skills to produce a “one-off” article for decoration or beauty, does that one piece become a work of art? Likewise, if the artist takes a “one-off” work and by reproductive prints, mass-produces many images, does that work then become craft?

Are there then any boundaries to “art”? Does art exist in itself? Or is it an adjunct to physical existence … and not a separate construction of the imagination? And if it was, then surely every wicked creation, every insidious act could also be construed as a “work of art” alongside sublime desire! For wasn’t it Alexander the Great who volunteered that “war, is the greatest art”?

Perhaps the boundary between Art and the Artisan can be adjudged as; Artisan being a measure of one’s craft skills, whereas art; the measured, skillful baring of one’s soul! While there is chance of ridicule in the former, there is every chance of absolute condemnation in the latter. How deeply we choose to express one or the other is perhaps a judgement on one’s personal strength of character.

Recently, I was told an anecdote by an acquaintance at a familial gathering where he inadvertently revealed the true story of the deliberate killing of a pet dog … a terrier belonging to one of the members of that gathering when he was a young man who left home to go overseas and left his pet terrier in the care of his father. Here is the gist of the email exchange (I have removed names):

To ‘B’

“What a fuckin’ great story there is in there about the terrier … oh, fuck!, ’B’, you could place it just as you tell it; in the closed environment of a parlour (not the balcony … too casual) replete with a tad of your “tee hee-ing” … but not cruelly, rather as innocently unaware … until … until the sudden realisation … oh … the sublime sorrow of it all … you have to do it, ‘B’. It almost writes itself! ‘J’ “

(Reply from ‘B’)

“Ummm …er! I thought that’s what I have done … written the story! The balcony was where it happened, we were all around a table, it stopped being casual when the story sank in. Why would I change anything?”

To ‘B’

“To me it was an anecdote … sure, it has the ingredients of a story … it has the characters and the core ingredient of the emotion for a story … but told in such a banal way … such things are but the peripherals of what creates a “hunger” for a reader seeking insight into the feelings of both (in this case) the perpetrator of the core cruelty, the sudden awareness of the victim whose dog it was … and … most importantly … for “he” (in this case being you: the teller) who inadvertently blurts out in all innocence, the act of brutality against not just the dog, but vicariously, against the man’s own son in which it now becomes obvious (at least to a sensitive reader) that the killing of the poor terrier was the father’s “killing” of any feelings for the homosexual son … and here was “you”, in an age far removed from the act, delivering that final death-blow that perhaps and I suspect the father had calculated long ago you would one day do … a cowardly act from “beyond the grave” on the father’s part.

I remember being told of an act of cruelty against animals by this gross workman on a building site, that I can never forget … but the extra cruelty that he inflicted with his wanton act is that I feel I cannot tell of his brutality to any other person, lest I too in cruelty then deliver that horror of imagination of witnessing the distress of the animal. The bastard has inadvertently gathered me into his confederacy of cruel secrecy.

To me, the “telling” of a yarn is, if it is done properly, like delivering a singular present into the hands of the reader or listener … and as we know, sometimes the best, most valuable presents come in the smallest of packages.

Sure, you have told one story … but to me the “real” story lurks underneath the familial gathering there on the balcony … Reg’s … Joe.”

Can everybody be an artist … or is there art for everybody? I’m certain the answer is “yes” to both … although there may not be a market for everybody’s “art”! There is a risk of mockery in too much display and, I’m sure many of us are aware that the road between flattery and mockery is very short and very straight! But here again, the depth of soul-baring would, I’m sure, lift that sublime piece towering above the dross, such is the power of sincerity and in the end, there being so many avenues of material, visual or musical expression these days, the Andy Warhol claim of 15 minutes of fame may just be around the corner for all of us. The big question is: Would you want it?

A process of recovery

Having been in the building trade for most of my working life, I have had several experiences of being called in by a agitated home owner to redeem or recover a job gone bad after the sacking of the original building contractor. I’m not talking multi-storey here, just your average housing extension or renovation. There is a process to this recovery that is much the same as the approach to many like scenarios of, say, failed health, failed business model, even or perhaps in this analogy most especially; failed politics.

The first thing to do is to make an assessment on the customer who called you in … you have to ascertain if the failure is perhaps a fault of the client interfering too much in the structure or the materials quality … this can sometimes happen where a client tries to get the builder to stretch spans between structural supports to gain more open space, thereby weakening the support loads of trusses or beams. Sometimes a customer will “have a mate in the game” when it comes to getting materials … and that could be structural timber with no or lower grade structural quality … things like that, where a good builder or trades-person will pull the client up and refuse to do such things … but in the case of the dodgy builder, sometimes anything goes and the job becomes a nightmare of dodgy work, chaotic coordination of trades and a general trash-site of rubbish and bits and pieces. I’m sure many of you have seen such in your travels … in short; managerial failure.

Once you have satisfied yourself with the clients credibility, you close the site while you do a thorough stock-take of: status of work completed, structural quality of work done, in hand materials stock-take and site tidiness and access for bobcats and any trenching work first needed … you then get hold of your own reliable subbies and set to work drawing up schedules and timelines … and you are then on the road to recovery … some of these measures can involve sacrificing off-cut materials left around and while useful, only congest the site and make it dangerous for clear procedure and they have to go into the big, blue-bin. A small loss for the greater gain.

Australian politics is now at the “failed dodgy builder” stage. We have the LNP in government which has to be the equivalent of the “Dodgy Bros’ Constructions” in every sense of word and deed. If they were in charge of building (which they are!), if they were in charge of contracting out (which they are!), if they were in charge of organising, timetabling, costing and supplying for basic infrastructure (which they have been!), the nation would be the equivalent of your average basket-case building site chaos (which it is!), where not only has the owner been trying to cut corners with materials, cut costs with dodgy contractors, but also giving the builders carte-blanch with the credit card which has been used to fleece the account to purchase holidays in the Cayman Islands, apartments on the Gold Coast and buy bling jewellery in Harrods Department Store! (Which they have!)

The road to recovery would demand the above standard response: first, sack the builder!, second, remove costing and quality and structural control from the builder’s jurisdiction, and third, set the building inspectors onto the builder and financier and seek legal redress!

This mob of LNP ministers and government would have to be the most corrupt and incompetent collection of useless good-for-nothings ever brought in to run any sort of project. There is not one area of expertise where you could point to and say that there is a competent minister doing a good job. Not one! Not from the Prime Minister or his department, neither Foreign Affairs, Treasury, Defence, Communications, Health, Education, Employment, Environment … and the list goes on and on … not one competent minister, nor one moral or ethical standout in the entire government. And don’t give me those who pushed for the SSM vote … that was just a one-off and they read the public mood … or else they would have buckled as they have done so many times before.

No … we now have a “rubbish builder” Government, who has made a hash of the job and needs to be sacked, removed and audited for charges to be brought against it. We have the equivalent of the builder who is unlicensed, unqualified and incompetent to do the job. Just like we had Attorney General Brandis who hid his incompetence behind reams of legal jargon, Minister Hunt who sheltered under his deceit of environmental sympathy and Senator Cash who has charge of job skilling, but who has not done a honest days work in her life and then we come to the Foreign Minister who just isn’t and we must conclude with Minister Pyne who always works best playing the “straight man” to his leader; Turnbull’s buffoonery!

Writing as a tradesman witnessing such mind-numbing political stupidity when it comes to doing the job right, I have come to both disrespect and resent that class of person who, coming from tertiary education into politics as a lawyer, accountant, business manager or as some other vague qualification not in the least useful to the everyday world of the common citizenry, yet are seemingly chosen from their peers, holding high that slip of paper stating manner of tertiary degree, PhD or Managerial Certificate that appears to be enough to give them almost ecclesiastical status in the public eye … while we of the working classes had to stitch and slave and study our way to education via the late-night glow of the desk lamp after both a day’s hard physical work and getting the children to bed. And even then, when we do obtain at least enough proficiency of language to make our tumbling thoughts plain and concise, we get picked up mockingly on our grammatical mistakes that are made to seem equal to a crime of capital proportions … when in reality … in real reality … those members of the Government (and, sadly, some even of our own representative side of politics) most praised by a sycophantic media and positioned cheerfully on our screens to lie and deceive at every opportunity, in truth they really wouldn’t know shit from clay … S-H-I-T from clay.

Time for the educated working class to take command and start the process of recovery of this nation … truly … sincerely!

I’ll give the last word (not that he deserves it, but because he says it best) to that old bluffer, Malcolm Muggeridge:

“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down … Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over – aweary, battered old brontosaurus – and became extinct.”

Destiny’s crook’d finger

After 20 years of work, Gibbon finally completed his history of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776. The final paragraph of that monumental work reads as follows:

“… every reader(’s) … attention will be excited by an History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: the greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene in the history of mankind. The various causes and progressive effects are connected with many of the events most interesting in human annals …”

There is another, perhaps, more awful scenario being played out on this most post-modern of ages. While one cannot, without access to intimate details of a nation’s military tactics, report accurately on the strategies of foreign military policy, one can see certain organic scenarios being acted out by our government, albeit with the most ham-fisted clumsiness of a disorganised acting troupe, those anti this or that ethnic group that is perceived as the current threat da jour of our right-wing leadership … so infused with a sweaty paranoia that it can only be a matter of time before the local Mah-jong clubs will be forced to integrate with the bridge or euchre clubs in their area or risk being “cleansed” of Chinese sentiment … such is the pathetic political excuses directed in so obvious accusations to so many red herring victims.

But it’s from another source that we see destiny crooking it’s beckoning finger to the West and its failing leadership. It is the corruption of the democratic system and its Houses of Parliament by right-wing politics. Right-wing politics is so corrupting that it turns citizen against citizen, for while it was true in those ancient dictatorships that with a corrupt emperor, the social rot starts from the top and works down. But with our modern democracies, we have to concede that by voting in a corrupt prime minister and his corrupt party, we; the People, are the element of corruption that has chosen and backed the rotting that starts from the voter base and works it way to the top … we are to blame for the government we have chosen.

“Which resulted from that corruption which the party of Marius had spread among the people, at the head of which was Caesar, who was able so to blind the multitude that they did not recognize the yoke which they themselves were placing on their necks.

And although this example of Rome is to be preferred to any other example, none the less on this proposition I want to refer to people known before our times. I say, therefore, that no incident (although grave and violent) can ever restore Milan or Naples to freedom, because those people are entirely corrupt. Which was seen after the death of Filippo Visconti, who, wanting to restore liberty to Milan, did not know how and could not maintain it.” (Machiavelli: Discourses).

What we saw recorded in the history of the decline and fall of Rome, was rotting of a civilisation from within, first the ruling Houses of the prominent families, then the corruption of the armies and finally the complete decadence of the citizens themselves until there was no moral justification for the State to stand. The system became terminal, the rest is history.

What we are witnessing on our media in this very epoch is the visible, unabashed and seemingly uncontrollable corruption of both the governing body AND through selected pork-barrelling; the citizen body of politically favoured demographics. The recent by-elections of New England and Bennelong demonstrated that the electorates of those communities were more interested in a party that would, as promised, pour money and infrastructure into those favoured communities, and so they returned the sitting incumbent without regard for the broader interests of “the State”. In one case returning a person so decadent that he ought to have been rejected from the citizen body on immoral behaviour alone! … showing a callous disregard of that man’s spouse and family within their very community … they can now no longer claim moral propriety as a ruling condition of their lives … their community … that particular community can be called “decadent”.

“Perhaps in a democracy the distinctive feature of decadence is not debauchery but terminal self-absorption — the loss of the capacity for collective action, the belief in common purpose, even the acceptance of a common form of reasoning. We listen to necromancers who prophesy great things while they lead us into disaster. We sneer at the idea of a “public” and hold our fellow citizens in contempt. We think anyone who doesn’t pursue self-interest is a fool.

We cannot blame everything on Donald Trump, much though we might want to. In the decadent stage of the Roman Empire, or of Louis XVI’s France, or the dying days of the Habsburg Empire so brilliantly captured in Robert Musil’s “The Man Without Qualities”, decadence seeped downward from the rulers to the ruled. But in a democracy, the process operates reciprocally. A decadent elite licenses degraded behavior, and a debased public chooses its worst leaders. Then our Nero panders to our worst attributes — and we reward him for doing so.

“Decadence,” in short, describes a cultural, moral, and spiritual disorder — the Donald Trump in us. It is the right, of course, that first introduced the language of civilizational decay to American political discourse. A quarter of a century ago, Patrick Buchanan bellowed at the Republican National Convention that the two parties were fighting “a religious war … for the soul of America.” (James Traub: Foreign Policy Centre, The United States of America is Decadent and Depraved).

The final stage of the corruption of empire was the corruption of the armies of Rome … where the Praetorian Guard even took the Empire hostage and in an act of the most vile cynicism, put the position of Emperor up for sale by auction to the highest bidder. It was purchased by Didius Julianus, who was overthrown by the armies of the Danube who chose their own man; Septimius Severus.

A time will come when our armed forces will be politicised and used not solely for the defence of our nation, but, like that Praetorian Guard, as a political tool to be used against their own citizens or for corporate gain against weaker States. The USA already uses its military for expansion of empire and will arm those despotic states most sympathetic to furthering its corporate doctrine.

With the election of a corrupt government here in Australia, the electorate has given a mandate to those unscrupulous lobbyists and “right-wing think-tanks” to push policies most suited to a favoured few and by that consensus of electorate choice, the voting public can no longer claim that the voting majority have been “hard done by” when they are duded … more the fool they … more the victim the rest of us.

Is the electorate now decadent? You bet it is!

Is all this going to end well? You bet it isn’t! … You bloody well bet it isn’t!

A Box of Spoons

Here is a “story” to tide you over for Chrissy.I hope you enjoy it … ‘aveagoodone!

There is innocence in childhood that has the capacity to reduce a complex situation to the simplest of solutions. It has its own shining beauty in that it need not be corrected, nor adjudicated upon … just to be sure that such innocence will be perhaps, irretrievably lost once past the “coming of age”. But then, surely, each age has its attractions … even old age can offer a “safe harbour” for memories of the child we all once were.

At my mother’s passing last year, I came into possession of all her archived household accounts and diaries. They were meticulously kept, from 1962 – 2014 … right down to the last cent. Her correspondence, however was not so conscientiously maintained … they were bundled or loose, in no discernable order of from any particular author … and all in a big box along with pamphlets and postcards. So it was no surprise to me when I came across one envelope that had written in one corner in her perfect script; “Keepsakes”.

Upon examination of the contents, among snippets from Aunt Lou of South Africa, or some distant relatives (on my father’s side) in America, there was a small cut square of wrapping paper … a faded yellow in colour with the print of two bells tied with a flourished ribbon and the script; “Your Wedding Bells” half circled above them.

This piece of paper ‘rang some bells’, if you’ll excuse the pun … and begging your indulgence, I’ll tell you the story. “How do I know the story so well?” you’ll ask after it has been told. You see, like all those childish adventures and miss-adventures that come to the attention of parents, they are told and re-told and repeated with some embarrassed amusement, right into our adult lives at every Christmas or family gathering … but then, one has to fill in the subtle details from memory of one’s own actions in the “adventure”!

It went like this:

A Box of Spoons

It’s a curious cycle that has parents giving their offspring Christian names that would elevate them, if only in nomenclature, above their poverty-enriched status. So was the only child of Ruth Hogben given the name “Alistair” at birth with a surety of decision that stopped short any debate on other possible names for her child. “He is to be named Alistair” she spoke wearily after the birth, then lay silently to feed the child. Ruth Hogben was a single parent in a “Trust” house on the fringe of the southern suburbs of Adelaide. How and why she was without a male companion shall remain a mystery … that is not our story.

“Damn poverty!” she would grumble to no-one in particular, “Oh to have a little extra money … even to buy some decent cutlery rather than this mish-mash of rubbish!” And she cast a plain steel knife into the dishwater.

Alistair heard this complaint many times as he grew up to his six years of age, so it formed an impression on his gentle child-mind that associated knives and forks and spoons with a degree of wealth. When his mother went shopping at Tommy Johnson’s 4 Square grocery store, he would wander out the front of the market to gaze into the plate glass window of the jeweler next door. But not at the expensive, glittering baubles of diamonds and emerald rings and bracelets, nor at the expensive timepieces. No, he stared hungrily with sweaty hands flat pressed against the glass at a set of glowing silver cutlery all embossed on their handles with delicate textures that mesmerised the tender-mind of the boy. And the fact that they were embedded in a rich, red plush of crushed velvet that itself seemed to shimmer was an added bonus. Oh how he would love to be able to make a gift of that set to his mother! If he stood there too long staring, a frowning face would inevitably appear above the cutlery set and a hand would make shoo!, shoo! away motions that would send Alistair backing slowly away over to the store door to wait for his mother.

There were two major events that affected Alistair’s life, both to the frustration of his mother, one was his susceptibility to asthmatic or bronchitis attacks, which with the croup in his lungs and the fits of coughing would keep him home from school for days at a time. It had even put him in hospital overnight a couple of times so that now, when he had an attack, a district nurse dropped in to check on him. The other event, one that brought rapture to Alistair’s heart was the opening, in a nearby gully of a mega council rubbish dump. Alistair became, to his mothers concern an inveterate “tip-fly”. He would descend onto that refuse heap every spare moment that the council men weren’t there (for it was “forbidden to scavenge”) to pluck little treasures from that miasma of debris. He would come home with a box full of trinkets and toys and, of course, always a little “something for Mum!” And! … and, despite her distaste for the subject, a certain curiosity would compel her to look into his “treasure chest” of swag.

“What have you got this time?” she’d ask as her eyes scanned the collection of knick-knacks. And Alistair would rummage expertly amongst them hummingly to produce a little treasure for her … for her he found it, a piece of colourful patterned china? A bauble of a cut glass vase perhaps? a book of verse (she loved verse, he knew). And his mother would smooth his hair with her hand and plant a kiss on the top of his head in thank you and place the trinket or whatever up on the “special shelf”.

Ally would smile happily, but always at the back of his mind was that lingering awareness of his mother’s concern for what she called “their poverty” and that elusive set of cutlery, one day he would bring her a set of cutlery, he was sure he would, for in his child mind, there was nothing to distinguish this throw-away society from all that in the shops on the high-street. The measure of wealth was to him nothing more than the collection of material things … of trinkets … of glitter and shine.

Come one winters day when the rain rattled on the glass of the window next to Alistair’s bed fit to drive even the hardiest birds to cover, Alistair gazed up from the picture book that was to amuse him as he lay resting from the latest attack of croup. He coughed a hacking, phlegmy cough that bought his mother in from the kitchen.

“Ah, dear, dear,” she fussed with the crumpled bed clothes and placed a warm moist hand on his forehead. “How’s my little chap then?” she cooed automatically. Alistair shrugged. “I’ve got the nurse coming today to look at you,” she consoled, “you just lie down and rest till she comes” and with one last smoothing down of the blankets she left the room.

Rest? Rest? Tell a six year old boy to lay and rest when, if not for the blasted coughing, he could be out in the wild … rest! From out of his window Alistair could at any time see down across the open sweep of paddocks to the gully that was the dump. Hardy scavenging seagulls would on most days circle like vultures then settle on the heaps of domestic garbage to feed. The site drew Alistair’s attention like iron to a magnet.

“It doesn’t look like the men are working now it’s raining,” he thought, “I might be able to sneak down for a look.”

This logic resolved his boredom and he quietly slipped out of bed and dressed for adventure. He opened his window carefully and climbed through into a bush of pelargoniums, the boy was free! His many trips to that El Dorado had worn a track through the grass and around the sparse, wild-olive trees that dotted the paddocks. As he got closer to the tip, each olive tree had a clear patch around its base furthest away from the cyclone-wire fence of the tip. Here he’d spy out the ground. The way was clear, the men were not working with the steady rain, they would be in the shed. Raindrops dripped from the dark leaves of the olive tree down Alistair’s back, he shivered in reaction, but he didn’t really notice the wet; he had other distractions! He crept to the fence and along to the large corrugated iron shed that housed the bulldozer. There were a lot of old nail holes in the sheeting, to one of these Alistair put his eye as he had done on many occasion. Two men sat at an old table in the shed, they were playing cards. Alistair listened:

“Where’d you get these cards from?” one man asked mockingly.

There was a moments silence.

“Found ’em t’ other day,” the other grumbled while in deep concentration on his cards. After a few cards were thrown down and others picked up, one threw his cards triumphantly on the table.

“Full house,” he boastfully cried, “Kings high!” and he smiled. The other frowned quizzically then nodded. ‘

“Not bad,” he said “I’ve only got five aces!”

“What!!” the first man exclaimed in disbelief.

Alistair left them at this point to argue the toss and seeing that they were involved in other duties, he made for his goal through the steady rain. He had gathered a few little ‘lovelies’ in his swag when he came across a jumble of wrapping papers and discarded ribbons amid confetti and used papers plates. The whole lot was next to a pile of rancid domestic waste. He poked about amongst the wedding debris (for that is what it was) with his seasoned eyes searching for booty. Then, all at once, amongst the scrap paper wrapping, he plucked out a small box, a card-board box about six inches square and one inch thick, it had a buffed crimson lid. He shook it, it rattled dully, he pondered on its’ contents and tried to guess, he played this game often, coins? buttons? No, too solid, nails? No too few! give up … carefully he eased the crimson lid off and gazed into the container.

Gosh! His eyes glowed with delight. He quickly closed the lid and slipped the box under his shirt less it become more rain speckled in his box of loot. His box! No, mustn’t forget that and he picked it up, he’d got enough now, yes! Oh how wonderful! he turned to sneak back home, gloriously happy, wait; paper! Wrapping paper everywhere!, he snatched up a piece that had “Your Wedding Bells” scripted over it, along with a length of white ribbon and he ran over to his spot at the fence which he crawled under to make for home … home, there past the shed with the huge silent bulldozer smelling of dust and diesel and the two men laughing inside, home, past the dark olive trees and across the grassy paddock home, home, and how he ran, the grey clouds tumbled and the rain streaked in silvered incline toward his house … home!

The district nurse had arrived, Ruth showed her in and led her down to Alistair’s room. He wasn’t there! And his window was ajar!

“Oh lord! Where can he be?” Ruth exclaimed, but she had a pretty good idea. “Boys, they’re the hardest things in the world to keep in one place!” and she moved to gaze out the window. She couldn’t see him, but she knew he wouldn’t be long.

“He … he must have gone to look at something,” she explained weakly, “I’m sure he’ll be back in a minute … would you like a cup of tea while you wait?” The nurse looked at her watch and remarked that yes it was near lunch time anyway. and yes a cuppa would be nice..ta! so they both adjourned to the kitchen.

Alistair crept up to his window and climbed through … he coughed harshly … his mother heard and excusing herself went to investigate. She found him standing at his dresser wrapping a package, drops of water fell onto the rug under his shoes.

“Ally … Ally … where have you been? Why, you’re soaked! And … and … your shoes, they’re filthy!” Alistair gave scant attention to his mother’s angry remarks, but thrust out a small, hastily wrapped package toward her. Ruth was taken aback by the tactic, she gazed dumbly down at the package that had “Your Wedding Bells” emblazoned on the wrapper.

“It’s for you Mum,” Alistair quietly but eagerly offered. He stood there soaked to the skin with the length of white ribbon he had no time to use, dangling loosely in his hand.

“It’s … it’s a … ” But no! … He wouldn’t tell her what it was, though one look at his wide-eyed expression and you could see he was dying to tell, he bit his bottom lip to stop himself and handed his mother the package, then clasped his hands together eagerly.

As Ruth took the clumsily wrapped package, the paper unfolded itself like petals of a flower to reveal a small box about six inches square and one inch thick, its’ lid was a crimson wash, speckled with rain-drops that raised welts on the smooth surface. She gazed wonderingly down at the box.

“Open it Mum, it’s for you. I found it for you.” Ruth gently praised open the lid and her mouth formed a little “o” with an accompanied sigh. Alistair crowded next to her and peeked into the box also. There, embedded in a plush of rich, red crushed velvet lay six bright, shiny silver tea-spoons, all embossed on their stems with delicate textured patterns that mesmerized mother and son, a soft glow from the single filament light in the ceiling reflected spangles up into their eyes.

“It’s a box of spoons Mum.” Alistair whispered, “a box of spoons for you to have so now we won’t be so poor,” he said keenly.

Ruth looked to her son standing there all a tremble and took him into her arms. She smoothed and kissed the top of his head and murmured more to herself than to him.

“I never knew how rich we were.” The nurse called down the corridor, Ruth quickly stashed the spoons. They put Alistair back into bed and the nurse attended to his needs. He was ordered to stay put in his bed. Alistair snuggled down into the depths of his blankets and smiled contentedly at the thought of his days glory. He listened to the hum of conversation between his mother and the nurse in the kitchen, the chiming of the spoons against the side of the tea-cups as they stirred their brew rang an angelus in his heart.

“Oh, what lovely spoons” the nurse cooed syrupy, “where did you get them?”

“Oh these?” Ruth replied nonchalantly, “Why, they were a … a gift, from someone … someone very special to me.” Alistair pulled his knees up to his chest, he coughed several times. His mother listened to the nurses chatter and cocked one ear to listen to her child’s coughing she nodded big-eyed at something the nurse had said, but at the same time sighed comfortably, for those coughs had a particular sound, the croup was easing,

Alistair was on the mend.

The Leopard is dead

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change” says Tancredi, the young nephew of Fabrizio, the Sicilian prince and central character of “The Leopard” … a very influential book by Giuseppe de Lampedusa.

Tancredi is an opportunist who understands what he needs to do to climb the social ladder in modern Italy. As he tells his uncle, the Prince; “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”. In other words, if the upper-class wants to keep living a rich lifestyle, they’ll need to adapt to the changing world. The story unfolds toward the ending of aristocratic rule in that part of the world in the time of the Risogimento in Italy as Garibaldi’s troops swoop into Sicily to complete the unification of that nation and marking the beginning of the end of many if not all aristocratic rule throughout Europe.

“Most of the novel is set during the time of the Risorgimento specifically during the period of history as Giuseppe Garibaldi, the hero of Italian unification, swept through Sicily with his forces, known as The Thousand. The plot focuses upon the aristocratic Salina family, which is headed by the stoic Prince Fabrizio, a consummate womanizer who foresees the upcoming downfall of his family and the nobility in Italy as a whole but finds himself unable to change the course of history.” (Wikipedia)

And indeed, history has recorded that change from aristocratic rule to upper middle-class domination … one could rightfully call it a tyranny of banker’s economic slavery … that has grown from an ideology steeped in the almost hard-core blue-print of genetic greed stamped on some of the most flawed elements of human evolution … a class evolved from a malevolent hunger to have and have and have more than their fellow people for but one vicious end … to dominate through a system of ”reward/punishment” the political and economic powerhouses of the western world.

They have conquered. But they hold power by a thread … a pernicious contract. The power of the upper middle-class resides in capital and only capital..it is a bluff of the most extraordinary reach, encompassing personal domestic finances of the home, local business exchange activity, states, territory and national treasury economic policy … each morning we wake to the financial reports and stock market fluctuations, as if they were the life-blood of our very existence … and with the control of money reaching so far into the personal well-being of our lives, perhaps they now are! I see my children as young adults now … struggling with home ownership, credit debt for what my generation would see as trivialities (communications/entertainments, holiday travel etc), lured deeper and deeper into a world of easy credit exchange and banker’s spiel so that their now fragile employment opportunities are too valuable to risk with reckless protest against the very swindle of wages reductions and casualisation of job opportunity.

Consider carefully the subtle intrigue of the advice of Maecenas, one of those original constructors of this malignant middle-class power base..in his counsel to the new Emperor Augustus:

“And do not, I beg you, be afraid of the magnitude of the empire. For the greater its extent, the more numerous are the salutary elements it possesses; also, to guard anything is far easier than to acquire it. Toils and dangers are needed to win over what belongs to others, but a little care suffices to retain what is already yours. Moreover, you need not be afraid, either, that you will not live quite safely in that office and enjoy all the blessings which men know, provided that you will consent to administer it as I shall advise you. And do not think that I am shifting the discussion from the subject in hand if I speak to you at considerable length about the office. For of course my purpose in doing this will be, not to hear myself talk, but that you may learn by a strict demonstration that it is both possible and easy, for a man of sense at least, to rule well and without danger.

“I maintain, therefore, that you ought first and foremost to choose and select with discrimination the entire senatorial body, inasmuch as some who have not been fit have, on account of our dissensions, become senators. Such of them as possess any excellence you ought to retain, but the rest you should erase from the roll. Do not, however, get rid of any good man because of his poverty, but even give him the money he requires. In the place of those who have been dropped introduce the noblest, the best, and the richest men obtainable, selecting them not only from Italy but also from the allies and the subject nations. In this way you will have many assistants for yourself and will have in safe keeping the leading men from all the provinces; thus the provinces, having no leaders of established repute, will not begin rebellions, and their prominent men will regard you with affection because they have been made sharers in your empire.” (Cassius Dio: The Roman Histories, Maecenus’ advice to Augustus).

Such “advice” has been the hallmark of the process of selection of those sympathetic to the aspirations of that class of economic tyrants in seeking the “consciousness of kind” down through the ages … and if they cannot skim them from the lowest filth of society, they will “manufacture” them in the private schools and colleges of the nations, turning the heads of the young and gullible toward a world of promised riches, bling and cruelty … maintained by a servitude of henchmen hopelessly and futilely aspiring to become themselves, one of the “elite” order of absolute bastardry of the upper middle-classes.

We have but one cause to devote ourselves to if we wish to redeem this planet’s environment, this planet’s sustainability, this nation’s dignity and this people’s honour … and that is to remove the entrepreneurial/speculative middle-class from holding total power in our democracy. Their ideology of economic command has led them to use the monetary system, a system constructed initially for nothing more than convenience of exchange of goods and commodities for an accepted value in currency (gold or silver etc) and by their greed of accumulation and political control along with the now domination of ability to appoint and direct officials of bureaucratic oversight of excess of power, they have totally corrupted that very democracy that has with tolerance, allowed them to wheedle, bribe and brutally take command of governance where they can. They have over-reached their acceptable influence.

With the many examples of financial chicanery being exposed not by the oligarchic mogul controlled mainstream media, but by social media and courageous whistle-blowers, we now see just how far property and monetary possession has corrupted that class so that there is deliberate action to limit inquiry and investigation and ability to collect taxation and remuneration to the State. There is an action in operation by some of these people that could equate to treason by the now members of the very senators and ministers that hold government. The wealthy are writing the laws that restrict inquiry into the habits of the wealthy:

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change” …

If we want things to change, things cannot stay as they are. The upper middle-class has to be torn down from their positions of power before that power corrupts completely, our nation.

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