Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: Australia (page 1 of 3)

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

Roadside : Saturday Afternoon Tragedy

Mid Saturday afternoon. All of us, Mum, me, two children in the car. Hot, not yet humid but dusty. We had driven from our place into town for shopping, I don’t recall exactly. What happened afterward didn’t much matter.
We saw it right after we’d driven over the level crossing. A group of people, seventy metres ahead. A four wheel drive was parked half on the road, half off it.
We saw what they were looking at, a grey torso on the ground. I would’ve passed it by. But two weeks’ vet nurse experience and a love of animals chose differently. She stopped the car. We both got out, left the doors open and told the children to wait. We joined the group of waiting adults. Nobody spoke.
A female kangaroo had been knocked down. One of the big hind legs was twisted and broken. With all her strength she tried to move the other. All she could do was kick. Then I heard her breathing. Each breath was her last but one. She must have had internal injuries after being run down.
Mistakenly somebody reached into her pouch. She gently pulled out a wet shiny grey joey. The retrieved joey was breathing too but with difficulty. It was better to leave the joey in the pouch later, I learnt. Instantly the mother sought and held her baby’s eyes. She found more strength even though breathing became even more of an effort. But it was all too late. Two more breaths was all it took. The joey exhaled then folded in on itself. The mother saw her joey and gave out too.

Everyone Failed Social Media : Except Mark Colvin

I knew Mark Colvin (and his kidney!) purely through Twitter! And sad at his loss.

I did read some of his interview transcripts: a gentle questioner able to get a better answer! But in the maelstrom that is Twitter, he came across as funny, intelligent, curious, never ever patronising, clever and subtle, a joy to read.

And his last tweet!!

I think every one failed social media except for Mark Colvin.

The Happiest Dental Patient Ever

Was this the last one? I went to the surgery door and called his name.

He looked up at once. And his eyes twinkled at me. And he smiled as if he had been in last week! 

He walked in arms swinging by his sides as if it was too easy. Tall, thin and vaguely familiar. But he wasn’t on my books at all. He couldn’t be. He was a walk-in as far as I was concerned. 

I didn’t know him from elsewhere in this town. Today was just my second day. I still was remembering more important matters. Such as which room was mine, the name of the receptionists, where the autoclave was, in case my assistant forgot to bring in the instrument tray. Which saving my anxiety, she did.

But this guy! He swings into the chair like a test pilot promoted to astronaut! And I think to myself, is he another one too? Another professional? If he is he’s pretty confident in what we all do!

Unlike me. I make a bad patient. And I’m even worse, now that I lecture. And  worst of all, provide expert advice when things go badly. If it was me, I’d be jelly.

And I ask,”What can I do for you?”

He says, “Just a check-up, ma’am.”

And I laugh, and ask, “ma’am. No one says that anymore!”

He says as unbidden, he swallows, swishes and spits, “The school librarian made us say it.

And while he’s drawling, he puts on a posh accent, “Don’t call wimmen Miss, Ms, Mrs unless you know if they’re married or not. And she said never call them Madame. And never said why. Reckoned I worked out that one!  But our French teacher wouldn’t answer to anything else! Reckoned ma’am is the least worst thing to say. Yeah. no. It’s okay most times except when I say it to the really young girls. They hate it. They scowl at me and swear under their breath while they’re texting!!”

Between us the ice is broken. And it seems familiar somehow. I laugh, and ask, “What do you do?”

He said leaning back and opening wide, still talking like a Northern Texan, “Professional bludger. Tell people stuff they don’t need.Write documents no one ever reads. Better get started, eh?”

And that’s the giveaway. He’s from the deep north of Queensland like me. Even with his mouth wide open, he still makes each word twice as long like a native. And that “eh!” That’s a deadset giveaway right there! And then I laugh to myself. Sometimes I still lapse back, I think. Just because I shifted states.  Another lapse now too.

Meantime, the work begins. I peer into his mouth with my mirror and sickle probe. I check and call the numbers and state to my assistant who scribbles dutifully. He’s as patient as Job. Except a lot more silent!

I say, “There’s a small hole in your back molar. We could leave it for another appointment. Or we could whiz through it now. It will only take another half hour.”

It didn’t matter, I thought. He was my last patient for the day and I was running half an hour early. My husband still had his lectures tonight so time didn’t matter.

He nods me through.

Drill, chip, wash, clamp, check, double check, tighten the clamp, fill, let set, wash and clean. It’s like doing dentistry on the Dalai Lama, I suppose. He’s so composed and relaxed. Simple and straightforward. By the book, I thought, the textbook. Which made a refreshing change from the day I had. 

And then a memory returns to me. “Didn’t I do a root canal on you?”

He just laughs, “Yep you sure did, wasn’t the once-off either, took a couple of goes, if I rightly reckon.”

And I remember, he didn’t flinch an inch that time either. That’s why I know him but he’s not on my books. 

I say, “You would have been my easiest patient.”

As the filling sets, he laughs and tells me why (out of the corner of his mouth of course). 

“It was easy,” he says, “I had the full metal jacket as a kid, a couple of teeth removed, wired up, that mouth guard thing and braces. Thought it would never end. Always knew this would!”

Never Unknown Again

You know I'm staring at you
Though you won't look at me
Your head is bowed low
Over Candy Crush or TV

I can wait with my empty cup
You'll remember, you'll see
You'll bob your head up
And stare full back at me

And when our eyes meet yet again
We'll create our own serenity
Only for another three seconds
That last another eternity

Never unknown again.


The Bitter Sea

Mine is a lost soul that swims in a bitter sea
Overlayed and swamped by waves of jealousy
Caught and held under by a rising tide of night
At the mercy of winds of animosity

Until I lose my strength  and drown ashore
Foundered now ocean’s false martyr
Suns may rise, storms may  fall
A light shower  washes my tears away

I Grew Up A NewspaperMan

I grew up a newspaperman. My dad was the editor of the Canowindra Star, the local paper in Canowindra New South Wales.  He wasn’t the grizzled editor from central casting : think of Perry White in Superman or Benjamin Bradlee in All the Presidents Men. No, he was my Dad (Kevin Whalan) : as he describes he was subeditor, editor, journalist, photographer, advertiser and publisher as well.

And my brothers and sisters were newspapermen and women too. For Dad, unusually and non-traditionally, took his family with him when he worked. I can recall seeing Rugby Union matches, the Friday night trots, and even the occasional council meeting (almost certainly I slept through that).

He would take the photos with a Brownie box camera. He would then put the paper together in his office during the week. I can recall visiting him after school as the office was next to the local barber (the one that wasn’t cranky).  Later when he worked from home, I saw him write, rewrite, subedit and then dictate copy over the phone.

On Tuesdays, Dad would drive to Cowra where the paper was printed at the Cowra Guardian for distribution on Wednesdays. He would take my brother and I (as far as I can recall) with him and we would go into the printery.

256px-Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F011578-0010,_Boppard,_DruckereiWe’d first enter the linotype room. It was a confusion of activity. Men were running everywhere. Linotypes are smelly, loud and dirty. And overwhelming at first. And messy. I still can see in my mind’s eye the texture of metal filings in oil on the floor.  Much like shiny black sandpaper.  Men would sit on a steel chair and type at a keyboard with copy clipped to the machine. I could hear the roar of the motors and the clatter and rattle of the typing. Every so often metal would issue forth and be added to a metal square (the form).

It obviously was not a safe environment for children. Especially as one of the children (me!) was somewhat accident-prone. But nothing happened to me at all.

When the form was complete and cooled a roller was dipped into ink and spread over it. Then paper would be added and rolled over again. Then the result would be proof-read. I too can recall reading the proof.  I don’t recall making any corrections or being responsible for any misprints fortunately.  Once proofread the form and paper would be sent away.

Then later in the day, almost as a separate process, we’d see the printing press in action. It too was loud but fast.  It would produce the papers as one and then deposit them to be retrieved. It was then  we saw the paper come together and quickly!

Then Dad would load up the car and take the early editions back home to Canowindra. The rest of the issues were distributed the following day. He would take a rather circuitous route dropping issues off  as twos or threes or sometimes half a dozen at some of the small stops. I can recall too that the papers were never ever bound together : they were loose.

And that detail stayed with me. And was recalled by a conversation with a friend who was working for one of the local Melbourne papers. She was saying how she delivered the papers to the shops all bound and tied. And sometimes they would stay that way. And in the middle of that conversation,  I nearly said, “Untie them when you deliver them!” I didn’t realise why until later.

Even in Year 9, I didn’t know how much stayed with me.  Edmund Rice College were looking for  volunteers to edit the school magazine. My brother David and I stepped forward (or were nominated!). And the school got two newspapermen for free! Except we didn’t realise it at the time.  But somehow we knew what to do as well as what to change! We had a page on Anzac Day featuring the Ode of Remembrance.   I lobbied successfully for more of the poem to be published. It was then I realised that putting together a paper was hard work. But Dad did it every week! The strangest part was putting it together and then sending off the draft to the offset printers. It was surreal to send it away and have it reappear in another format without seeing it typed, set and printed for real.

Even, in the workforce, I didn’t realise how much Dad’s work had stayed with me. As a software developer and system manager, I would often rewrite procedures, correspondence and emails  as they were unreadable. What I found was that I could  summarise quite complex writing briefly and succinctly.  But all I was doing was what Dad did : sub editing his own copy. Perhaps somehow I had learned his art by osmosis. Ultimately I ended up writing training and technical documentation.

But I didn’t realise how much it stayed with me until the conversation with my friend. Which of itself led to a recollection of what my brother and I remembered from our childhood.

The irony was that this newspaperman wanted to become a journalist. But due to various circumstances I didn’t have that opportunity. In truth, I don’t know what sort of journalist I would’ve made. But somehow it has led to this blog…

The Reverse Golden Rule

Somewhere in Australia, someone is gloating over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was fuming over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

Somewhere in Australia, someone is fuming over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was gloating over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

If it sounds like the reverse Golden Rule, it is. Hate others before they hate you.

These haters will never convince us not to attempt to live in harmony.

And we who attempt to live in harmony regardless of race, sex, creed, etc, etc, are the majority.

An opportunity to do unto others.

An opportunity to do unto others.

For we who attempt to live in harmony have bent ourselves towards the whispered breeze of love that calls us toward the Golden Rule.

Love others as they love you: before, during and after.

Continue reading

The Reverse Golden Rule

Somewhere in Australia, someone is gloating over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was fuming over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

Somewhere in Australia, someone is fuming over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was gloating over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

If it sounds like the reverse Golden Rule, it is. Hate others before they hate you.

These haters will never convince us not to attempt to live in harmony.

And we who attempt to live in harmony regardless of race, sex, creed, etc, etc, are the majority.

An opportunity to do unto others.

An opportunity to do unto others.

For we who attempt to live in harmony have bent ourselves towards the whispered breeze of love that calls us toward the Golden Rule.

Love others as they love you: before, during and after.

Continue reading

My Boxing Day Surprise

Without thinking too much about it, I woke up on Boxing Day and decided to see a movie. My choice was (this is a few years ago) , was Return of the King, the final instalment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I just thought I could turn up and get a ticket to the first session of a box office smash without booking ahead. Little did I know.

So I strolled down from where I was living in South Brisbane, to the Southbank cinemas to press my luck.

When I entered, it wasn’t crowded, it was a crush. If I knew then that all of these people wanted to see Return of the King, I would have turned around and gone straight home. Still I joined the queue and waited my turn.Movie Ticket

I slowly wended my way to the top of the queue. Just before I was to be served, I received some bad news. Unfortunately the couple just before me wanted tickets to the first session and hadn’t booked. The attendant said she couldn’t help them as there were no seats left and booked them in the evening session.

I stepped forward, took a deep breath said, ” Can I have a single ticket for Return of the King and if you haven’t got any seats for this session I’m okay for the last session tonight if that’s okay with you.”

Surprisingly, the attendant understood what I said. She looked at me, paused and said just a second. She went away, checked and then said to me, we’ve just had a cancellation.

I paid for my ticket and enjoyed the first session of a brilliant movie. Yeees!!!

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