Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Category: Opinions-Editorial (page 1 of 12)

Bang! Crash! Wallop! The Real Game Of Cricket.

Bang! Crash! Wallop! Throbbing music and flashing lights. People stomping, clapping and shouting.

That was me last Friday night.

I wasn’t at the movies. Nor at a concert. Nor even a nightclub.

I was at the cricket. Namely the T20 womens’ cricket game between Australia and England. To decide the Ashes! Which we won.

Heat, light and smoke! And the cricket! Balls hit at speed. Stumps scattered. Wickets falling. Fours and sixes! Catches held and spilled.

For me, everything was happening too quickly. I was losing sight of the real game being played.

As marketed and frequently played, cricket, especially in the shorter formats appears to be a game of total firepower.

Bang! Crash! Wallop!

Any finesse and timing is rarely shown. Such attributes surely belong to a more sedate sport. Like Olympic Curling.

Or the Australia versus England Women’s Test the previous weekend.

The wicket was a friendly featherbed. No bounce, swing or turn on show here. Consequently the cricket displayed was defensive.

Bang! Fizzle?! Kapow! Ouch?!

Despite the non-spectacle, I counted myself perfectly fortunate. For  was witness to another game being played.

Yes there was physical strength and skill shown, Amanda Jade Wellington spinning the ball like a washing machine for one.

Finesse and timing too, seeing real late cuts elegantly played.

One where Ellyse Perry scored 213 and never ever looked like getting out. I suspected as much because she was ready before everyone else began. Or the two English batters who didn’t even reach Australia’s score until late in the day.

For me that’s where the real game of cricket showed up. Bang! Crash! Wallop! Except you can’t see the heat, light and smoke.

For the game is being played above the neck. The real game of cricket where resilience, determination and persistence prevail.  Continue reading

 

 

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Green is the new Red!

Apparently, being concerned about the environment and supporting Same Sex Marriage is red.

Communist red that is!

Wow!

Or rephrased as Green is the new Red!

Really?

Let’s look at the history then…

Caring for the environment was never a priority for any communist state. Name one. Certainly not China. Or the Soviet Union. Both countries are replete with environmental disasters.

As for same sex marriage and communism, they never walked down the same aisle. Name one. Chechyna is continuing that old tradition.

Maybe what was meant was…anything I don’t agree with is red/communist)…

So do you know what communism is?

Communism essentially puts the means of production in the hands of the workers. Name one state that does that. Anybody? Anybody?

The USSR tried. Then the state ran all production, much as any self serving totalitarian dictatorship would.

Even red wasn’t red!

And as for Green being red, it never was.

Next time research history so you can actually describe what you’re opposed to.  Otherwise it’s like saying beware of danger without saying what it actually is. Maybe it’s not dangerous at all!

Did You Know?

I knew not love,
Until it was called from me,
And named so by another.

I asked of love,
If love was called from me,
Then I was always a lover.

Love said to me
Living still and solitary 
Was nothing without another

You who knew love,
Once called out from you
Named love by a lover.

Did you ask love
Did love call to you
Or were you always a lover

Unless...you knew love
Was the only creator.

The 30 Day Creativity Challenge: Day 0

When I saw Michelle Ocker’s post on the 30 Day Creativity Challenge, I thought: “Let’s Do This.” Good enough for them, good enough for me.

Except for the fact that I rarely create a habit, I tic-tac back and forth until it sticks. 30 days may change that. Then the impostor says to me, you can’t be creative. You start and then stop. But being creative means anything goes. Besides it might be worthwhile to see what I can try. And I already have a few ideas. And if all fails, I can fold an origami crane.

And that hat will be my motivation. Curiosity!

 

Bullied into Silence aka the Bastard Problem

The phrase “being bullied into silence” has started occurring in the Same Sex Marriage debate, often emanating from the No camp.

Here is my response…

Only bullies complain about being bullied into silence because it’s the exact technique they use to bully others!

As soon as they are questioned or confronted they say they are being bullied. Their very actions are meant to provoke. So an angry response is what they want! But even a question or a rebuttal evokes the same response. Then they say they are being bullied.

Or as I call it: the bastard problem.

The bastard problem: assume everyone else is a bastard, treat them as such and keep them underfoot.  And when they resist or respond, they’re a bastard, they’ve proven themselves so. Substitute the word bully for bastard…

So ironic to see what happens in public replicate my own experience in private. As asked last week about how bullies start, I replied without thinking, “They practice first at home!!”

 

When the Rainbow Opened My Eyes

My niece got engaged yesterday to her partner. Now my brother has two daughters instead of one. I’m joyful for both as they’ve found that love is love is love. But it took me a while to understand…

For I must have lived in a sexual vacuum. Growing up I never even knew what homosexuality was. Then in my teenage years, the epithets cat and poofter were bandied around.

I still didn’t know what they were talking about.  It sounded bad so I wanted no part of it. I didn’t even know about heterosexual sex!!

Then later, at university, I discovered what homosexuality was. And decided it wasn’t for me. And paid no attention to it. Even in the Catholic Church it wasn’t mentioned at all.

And so I slumbered happy in my ignorance.

That was until I joined a Pentacostal church.

When it happened, I was working in Sydney, away from home. I working back as there was a huge amount of work to be done. But I couldn’t work more than forty hours so I finished early on a Friday. So when we had drinks of a Thursday, of course I would hang back.

And I started talking to one of my workmates. And he freely admitted that he was gay. And I was so confronted I kept talking to him!

And then he told me what he did in his spare time. He was counselling and assisting people with AIDS. Remember this was the nineties when the prognosis was almost always pessimistic. And my immediate thought was that’s where I’d find Jesus, ministering to the modern-day lepers.

For the established church has a poor record of ministering to minorities : women, homosexuals, sexually abused, etc, etc, yet it is those people to whom the gospel is preached. Sometimes I think they’ve missed their mission by the length of heaven!

That was Sydney. Then I went back to Brisbane. And listened to the worst sermon ever (See When Will There Be Rainbows in Church?)

And since then I’ve met others, a man who was a mentor to me, a lesbian couple who were like an old married couple, a man through university who had been  in a long-term relationship.

And I couldn’t tell the difference between their love for each other and my love for another.

And then my niece (now engaged) came out. Which was a joy and blessing to everyone, for she had found out who she was.

And surprisingly, they’re not pedophiles, nor totalitarians wishing to impose their values on others.

Just people living their lives, trying to find happiness, same as you and same as me.

And dear reader, before you condemn homosexuality and same sex marriage, follow my path, meet them for themselves.

And then make up your mind.

 

Political Insults? Been There Heard That!

As a writer who was in a verbally abusive relationship for many years, the current political climate is rather familiar.

Funnily enough my main reaction to both is the same. It’s not being offended at being insulted.  After the initial six weeks (in a relationship) or fifty years (in politics), I become bored…

  • Socialist
  • Communist
  • Stalinist
  • Marxist
  • Snowflake
  • Bed wetter
  • Leftist
  • Do-gooder
  • Social justice warrior
  • UnAustralian
  • Latte drinker, etc.

And much like being called a creep, bastard, wanker, an apostate (had to look that one up as I was not studying for the ministry), oversensitive, etc, I have the same sense.

That the standard of political sledging has slipped: to the same level experienced by those in abusive relationships!

Insults on repeat.

And similar to sport, my prescription is the same.  We need to raise the standard see Australian Institute of Sledging?

For I do prefer, the insult that make me laugh. The one that makes me think.

Not the one that makes me nod off. Been there, Heard that.

Horse and Carriage or Unfinished Symphony

I had to laugh (out loud on the train)! For My Dad, Kevin Whalan’s latest blog,opens with the same words as the following speech, written and delivered in 2001,  while I was going through…

“Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage “

Well, you don’t see that any more do you?

Do I mean horse and carriage or love and marriage?

There is a hidden pandemic of loneliness occurring right now.

It’s called second and third marriage or permanent singlehood.

Actually it’s really divorce.

Most marriages fail. Most second or third marriages fail. Most divorces fail too!

What is the triumph of hope over experience? A second marriage!

But all is not lost! Like flowers in the desert after a rain shower, a new industry has sprouted to upend this trend.

Books, radio shows, tapes, videos, courses, even laws and of course marriage counsellors are lining up to help you and your loved one out of your marriage! I have checked out some of these resources. Unfortunately, few have been helpful.

But I did find something. To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, when you take away what’s left, whatever remains, no matter how strange it is, is the answer.

Or what I might call Whalan’s law of failure, success is the path you take when all else has failed!

My neighbour loaned me a book. The basic idea of that book was that the man is the problem. And if he helped around the house a little bit more: let’s just set the scene…

The wife has gone out somewhere or is working and has come home late. The husband has just finished washing up and is putting away the dishes. He’s a bit bald, maybe a bit of a paunch, but tonight to the wife, he has never looked more attractive.  When she comes home, she is so glad to see him… scene cuts to the flames burning fiercely in the fireplace.

So you men, if you wash up marital bliss waits. Maybe even a second honeymoon. I wonder what do I get for doing the washing and my own ironing too?

One other book, which I bought and attracts dust, also says the man is the problem. If the man stopped going to the footy or cricket, stopped watching TV, didn’t go out with his friends, gave up his favourite hobbies then marital bliss awaits. Just spend more time with your wife and family.

But I ask you, what man has enough time to do all of this and the housework as well?

And suppose women are the problem.

Yet another book says the above. Laura Doyle’s “The Surrendered Wife: A Practical guide to finding intimacy, passion and peace with a man”. Luckily for me I haven’t read it even silently or aloud to my wife or coloured in the pictures.

For instance her advice is for the woman to stop nagging the man, even covering her mouth with duct tape to do so. She should say, “Whatever you say, dear? “ Talk about the inaudible language of love!

The woman should always say “Yes” and be available for the man. What does this mean? Maybe I should get the book…

The woman should never ever tell the man he is wrong. Does this mean that I’m always right! I can’t remember that time!

Or as I saw in a leaflet which prided itself as a prescription for marital bliss. It suggested that when the husband came home from work, the wife should have all the children lined up to greet him all squeaky clean and neatly dressed. The wife should be perfumed and also neatly dressed, made up etc. She should do all the cooking and housework and hang on every word the husband says.

Obviously, the wife does not work and the children are robotic. Not even in the Brady Bunch, could they make this happen. Even with Alice and Carol Brady slaving away…

It seems ridiculous that Ms Doyle can write a book saying the way to marital bliss is to let the husband do as he pleases.  Please no cheering men, for if what she says is true, men are Neanderthals with a no thickening veneer of civilisation and have to be appeased.

It always seems to me that its either the man is the Conqueror and the wife Surrendered. The women’s liberationists hate that and rightly so!

Or the other way around. The man is submissive and the woman a conqueror.

Maybe there’s a market for a book called the Surrendered Man. It would probably sell to the sensitive new age guys (you know, the ones with boyfriends) and I would have the other copy.

Maybe we should live like accountants, counting up and valuing every task and redeeming them for prizes. Like a game show.

Is there no common ground between men and women except mutual selfishness? Its that the answer?

Or is there not another way?

Maybe there’s a market for a book, video series, etc, called the Surrendered Spouse where both husband and wife promise to live for each other alone.

Maybe they could commit to mutual respect and work together and find that two people can do more together than each alone!

Maybe instead of trying to change each other for selfish gain, they could just change themselves one day at a time.

My point is that the only person you can change in your marriage or any part of your life is yourself. How is up to you !

That takes more courage than slavishly following a reverse tit for tat marriage manual.

Perhaps then marriage (And Life Itself) be an unfinished symphony!

I am Andrew and I am an OverResearcher : Writing Out Loud #2

Messy Desk

Messy Desk

You over-research too much,” she said to me.

I looked up from my desk, covered in academic papers. Then down at the floor, strewn with textbooks, references and more academic papers.

Do I? I suppose I do.” My wife shook her head at me.

My name is Andrew and I am an over researcher.

My affliction isn’t confined to my studies, now discontinued, it overflows into the workplace and most recently into my writing. I’m insatiably curious. My excuse, as was said to me is “But I want to know everything.”

What I don’t do is approach a topic seeking facts to satisfy a decided point of view. I can’t actually. I do have a question that needs answering. But I don’t know all the answers, even when I’m finished.

Which means the strangest things happen to me when I take this journey.

As happened when I entered the NYC Midnight Short Story competition. I was one of 3000 writers who compete in three rounds. Each writer is placed in a heat, allocated a  word limit, a period, a topic, a genre and a character. The first round required a 2500 word story in a week, then 2000 words in 3 days, then 1500 words in 24 hours. The winner was Sarah Martin’s The Undertaker. It is a gorgeous and touching story.

My first round genre was historical fiction, my character a Train Conductor and my topic was a Bushfire. I was daunted. I have never written historical fiction before. What I do know as described by Natasha Lester, author of A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald, was that it required immense and accurate research.

Not really knowing where to start, I choose an Australian angle. Surely, in a vast country, often riven with bushfires, spanned by an extensive rail network, surely there would be such a story. Surely the 1977 Blue Mountains bushfires would have such an incident. I found much about how bushfires are fought, how the technology has changed and how the railways do deal with bushfires. Surely not.

My searches kept turned up another disaster, the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894. I ignored that. I didn’t want to write about that. Meanwhile the days dripped away. But I found nothing that could start a story. My over research was now becoming an over reach.

With only a few days left, I surrendered. And found my story. In fact, two stories. One was the well-known one of  the Canadian engineer James Root and how he led a rescue train to safety. The conductor, I felt, only had a peripheral involvement. The second story is more obscure involving a rescue under the supervision of a train conductor named Powers.

Finally! I had found what I was looking for. But I had not yet completed my journey.

Then I became immersed in this story. The newspaper reports, several books and a chronicle written afterwards detailed an apocalyptic horror. The fire, or rather fires, were too extensive and fast to fight or flee. There are stories of impossible survival, people sheltering in ponds, creeks and cellars and pure tragedy where people standing side by side survived or died. Clearly, there are many, many stories that can be told of this event.

Mine went like this.

Hinckley in Minnesota was a logging town and the junction of  two railways. After two months of drought, September 1, 1894, was a hot and oppressive day. While fires were common due to thoughtless forestry practices,  a temperature inversion (cold air above hot air), resulted in two major fires becoming a firestorm. Ultimately, the town itself and a large area burnt until the fire stopped.

James Root’s train was approaching the town and had to turn back, picking up survivors until they reversed to safety. Unfortunately, not everyone survived. Powers, however, was the conductor of a train that was trapped in Hinckley when the fire struck. They couldn’t leave. Their route out was blocked by a recently arrived goods train. A decision was made to join the two trains together and flee the town. As they began, buildings and house started exploding around them. They waited, then took as many people as they could. They then backed the train at speed through the fire. They picked up survivors as they ultimately crossed a burning trestle bridge to safety.

The Suicide Express

The Suicide Express (from https://westerntrips.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/hinckley-minnesota-1894-fire-with-no.html)

That was my story. I detested it.  I had written a third-person newspaper report summary. This happened, then that happened, Powers did this, his crew did that and they made it to safety. Yes it was a story. But all the while another story was unfolding itself to me. I just was refusing to listen to it. The deadline drew nearer. I started to despair. It looked like the story would not be submitted.

I thought about my dilemma. I then looked for what surprised me. It was the incredibly strong religious beliefs of both the immigrants (mainly Scandinavian) and the first settlers. The Native Americans’ stories sadly weren’t chronicled in much detail. In recounting the disaster, every person described it in apocalyptic terms using Nordic or Christian metaphors. So often people described the fire as appearing from nowhere rather than approaching from any distance. My over-research was about to become useful.

For it was then that the story revealed itself to me. Through Power’s eyes, this would be the end of the world exactly as described from the pulpit and the Bible. And worse, he had delayed the departure of the train to gather more stragglers. And his point of decision was at the burning trestle bridge.  And it only had immediacy if I wrote it in first person.

Fifty minutes later it was written.

The story didn’t go beyond the first round. However, the judges’ feedback was deeply appreciated. And I had learnt immensely.

Here is the Great Blow.

My name is Andrew and I am an over-researcher. I’m also a curious and reflective one.

 

 

 

 

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