Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: Australia (page 1 of 3)

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!!!

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty (How I Got My Cat Mojo Back)

I’m not a cat person. And here are the sure-fire symptoms.  I’m not the one walking down the street like the pied piper having cats follow me.

When I walk up to cats and say hello they don’t say hello back. Quite the opposite. Tiger yawning

So it was with some reluctance that I let myself be talked into going to the Cat Cafe Melbourne. At that time, I thought it would be nice for my son to see something different about Melbourne. I didn’t think it would turn out for me at all.

The Cat Cafe. The name says it all : a place for coffee and a place where cats roam free.

We called ahead and booked for the late evening just for an hour.

We appeared at the appointed time.

Downstairs the Cat Cafe looks like a combined pet shop and cafe.

We went down the back and announced ourselves. I paid the money. Then we had to read the rules. Having had cats as pets before there were almost no surprises. Except for the ban on flash photography. I knew that. Having had cats I knew that no cat put up its paw when you went searching for them with a torch.

At the appointed hour a group of us were ushered upstairs to meet the cats. As it was late evening it was almost closing time for the resident cats. Surprisingly for a bunch of sleepy felines, there were no prima donna antics from them at all. They were serenity itself.

I didn’t go near them. Remember I’m not a cat person. My son showed no hesitation at all. Straight away he went over to the first cat. he introduced himself. He patted her head.

Only much later I realised we both had the same gap in cat years. When I moved and then  he and the rest of the family moved out one cat was let behind. There’s been no cat since.

Watching him with these cats brings to mind my recent cat encounter. There’s a cat who lives round the corner. A friendly one. When I walk past he goes out of his way to say hello. He would jump up on the fence and say hello. A quick pat and I was on my way.

When I remembered him, it all came flooding back. He's just around the corner

I still didn’t think I was a cat person.But as was said to me, it depends on the cat.

And the ones at the Cat Cafe reminded me of my favourites.

First was Benny who was a little kitten when we got him. I would pick him up and he would literally twirl himself around my arm like silk. Not long after that he would start purring. He was friendly and affectionate and quite personable. His favourite party trick was letting himself in to the house by opening the screen door. He would climb the door, jump onto the handle and pull it down. The door would swing out and open. He jumped to the ground and sidled in as if it was perfectly normal. Sadly one day he disappeared.  He was either catnapped being too friendly or worse.

But the original family cat was Whisky. She was a beautiful tortoiseshell cat. She who was born under the house we were living at the time. She was the only one of the litter who was kept. I don’t know what happened. As a child I came home and we went from four cats to one.

In time, she became the family cat and lived a long and affectionate life. She also was the only animal that seemed to like me. She would sleep on my bed of a night. She would come into my room and soften up my blankets by pushing her paws down. Sometimes she would get her claws out push down too hard and wake me up.

Remembering all that. I reached out to the cats. Nearly all were sleepy or fast asleep. A gentle touch was all that was required. To see a cat stir slightly before falling asleep after relaxing at your touch was quite therapeutic.

I wandered around the different rooms. Most of the cats were asleep and one had curled up in the top of a cat tree and couldn’t be easily found. I peeked in on him, smiled and marvelled to myself at his cleverness. Then I left him undisturbed.

I went into the last room. A cat was in a basket half deciding whether to go to sleep or to watch the fish on the TV screen. I sat with him and watched him peacefully drift off to sleep.

An hour had passed seeming like a few minutes. I think I might just be a cat person after all. But as said to me, I think it still depends on the cats.

 

 

 

Cory Bernardi and Freedom of Speech

Much has been made of the recent comments by Senator Cory Bernardi regarding his book the Conservative Revolution (see the reviews and Twitter). All I will say is that I disagree with him. Based on his expressed values I almost certainly won’t read his book. And like Bill Shorten I can give personal examples!

It won’t be long until comments are offered that Cory Bernardi is exercising his freedom of speech. It may look like I’m ghost writing for Andrew Bolt or Piers Ackerman. There may even be an appeal to the new Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom Tim Wilson.

And according to the framers of free speech (warning: Wikipedia reference!), he should express his opinion without fear of penalty.

Why? Implicit in the right to free speech is that it is a right for all. Freedom of speech is for everyone.

Which presents a problem for those like me who disagree strongly.

It’s way too easy to tell him to shut up or insult him. Some have already.

The problem with that is my explicit and implicit attitude : the only person who should exercise freedom of speech is me and me alone.

Which means I can enjoy my moment of free speech. And silence everyone else’s freedom of speech.

Which mean freedom of speech is lost in the long run for me and for everyone else.

Australian Institute of Sledging?

As a cricket lover I’m following the current Test series.

Cricket picture

Cricket picture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My hope is that one more Aussie win will return the Ashes to us.
Yet cricket is not a predictable game. And it can be overshadowed by outside issues. Such as sledging.
Sledging is sustained verbal banter (truthfully outright verbal abuse) designed to unsettle an opponent.
All players have encountered it. It is more pervasive than admitted. I rarely indulged in it. In all honesty I saw sledging as a waste of time.
Sledging is verbal abuse in cricket

Sledging is verbal abuse in cricket (Photo credit: absentbabinski)

Cricket is both physically and mentally adversarial. It was a complete surprise to hear opponents calling your names and saying they wanted you out. That’s why they did more than turn up for practice!
And most of the insults (sorry misdirected advice) were of a very poor standard indeed. Usually just silly sexist names and insults. Most (nearly all) weren’t funny.
So I rarely replied and only then to give coaching advice! “I’m just trying to keep him interested (after playing and missing at a wide ball)”. Apart from that I never really repeated much of what was said to me.
And I had an expectation that first grade, first class and international cricket would have a higher standard of verbal banter (sorry sledging). So with an hour to spare I quickly thumbed through Crickets Greatest Sledges. And finished it in 10 minutes.
Nope most of them I had heard before in under 16s and third and fourth grade. The best was a batsman telling a bowler to go fetch the ball after it was hit. I was told that at practice all the time !!
How disappointing !
And this highlights the problem with sledging. The standard just isn’t good enough. And it needs to be improved. In fact, Australia should aspire to be a world class country of sporting sledgers.
And starting with cricket, there should be more emphasis on improving this skill from junior cricket through first grade and into international cricket. A sporting program should be put together to train and educate cricketers to sledge better. An improvement in these skills would improve it as a spectacle.
But in my humble opinion, the best way to improve sledging is not for it to rely upon insults. There are only a limited number of insults (see above!).
The best way to improve sledging is to educate and train our sports people in the fine art of humourous verbal banter.
Why?
It’s obvious!
  1. Firstly, sportsmen and women will enjoy the game more and deal better with the games ups and downs!
  2. Secondly, their opponents will have to deal with the off putting effects of on field humour.
  3. Thirdly, all sportsmen and women will have a clear post game career path post sport as after dinner speakers, stand up comedians and authors.
  4. Fourthly and most importantly, the stump microphones can be left on ALL the time!

Abbott After 100 Days : Policies versus the Pamphlett

There has been much written about the Abbott Government and its achievements in its first 100 days.

They’ve even brought out a pamphlett of their achievements.

But if one had studied their election pamphlett, the clues to their performance were already there.

And the giveaway is mainly in the presentation and only some of the content! Which describes the last 100 days!

The introduction stated the election was still on September 14. Perhaps a government out-of-date with voter expectations. Or perhaps a government looking forward to an election after September 7.

The document uses quotes inconsistently. There are double quotes on page 4 and single quotes on page 8. Maybe they knew there would be problems remembering who said what and when.

The document also uses numbering inconsistently with a full stop after last point on page 9 but no full stops anywhere else. An omen that they would have some issues around policy prioritisation.

Use of semi colons at the end of bullet points and the use of commas elsewhere. A portent of a possible policy backflip perhaps.

Misspelling on page 5 Australian. The LNP perhaps are unsure about this country’s place in the world.

Yes it was all there in black and blue in the pamphlett.

To misquote Bob Hawke, if you can’t format your documents properly you can’t govern the country.

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