Just pucker and toot

dog 1

Three year old Petite Fille’s one ambition in life is to whistle. We spend quite a bit of time trying to whistle. I naturally amaze her with my whistling repotoire, especially my rendition of “Home on the Range.”

Being a Flamingo Dancer, a junior one perhaps, but one none the less, Petite Fille, does not allow a lack of technique to hold her back. Instead, she makes her own sound that registers more like a train toot which she follows with an announcement  that she is whistling to inform those within hearing know that they are being treated to a a musical wonderment.

Mostly, she whistles when she wants to call Augie Dog. So she toot toots and says “I am whistling”.

And Augie Dog comes.

That dog will leave his lying position; he does a lot of lying around, a bit like Mr FD his constant companion. Anyway, he actually gets up, the dog, not Mr FD, only food and the need to pee motivates MR FD to move. As I was saying, the dog will get up and join Petite Fille as if he really was called.

I suppose he is being called, just in toddler speak. I guess animals and children speak a language we adults have long forgotten – things don’t have to be perfect, to be perfect.

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ANZAC DAY

ANZAC DAY

UNTOLD STORIES : Today is ANZAC day and as a nation we celebrate all Diggers! But did you know that over 1000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders fought for Australia in World War 1 – even though they couldn’t vote and were not recognised as citizens in their own country? Many who tried to enlist were rejected on the grounds of race – but for those that slipped through the net – they rode in the Light Horse, they climbed the slopes of Gallipoli, they fought and died in the trenches on the Western Front. And they would not have thought their sacrifice more than that of any other Digger. They all volunteered to put their lives on the line for their country.

Once, a hundred years ago today…

poppy

Today, April 25th is ANZAC Day for Australians and New Zealanders – the day we celebrate a great defeat. A bloodbath at Gallipoli, in 1915. We became the canon fodder offered by the British.

I like that we celebrate failure; for it is by failing that we learn from our mistakes – usually. Since 1915, we, the Australian peoples, have been involved in World War II; The Korean War, Malaysia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and now I.S, which is not a state, but more a state of mind; a mindset.

The war to end all wars did none of that. Some might argue that the impact of World War 1 has shaped our societies, and certainly our capitalist economies ever since. A lot of people become very rich, though the needs that war creates.

Mr FD’s grandfather served on The Somme. He was shot, luckily not badly, and went AWOL for a day or two, probably over a lovely lady, but he carried the experience silently throughout his life.

My family, second generation Germans and Poles at that time, experienced the other side. Knocks on the door, questions as to why a picture of the Kaiser, a memory brought by an immigrant, was on an old lady’s wall. Not internment as so many other innocents, but suspicion.

Nothing is solved by violence, be it global or domestic. Yes, celebrate the failures of war, the loss of life, so that, maybe, one day, a generation will finally realise that nothing is worth war and destruction. No one ever wins… and it never ends.

Gallipoli. 25th April. 2015.

Gallipoli. 25th April. 2015.

climb, climb, climb the boat, and a corn cob pipe

I had barely opened the library when the Assistant Principal walked through the doors.

“Mrs FD, I am need of urgent support and assistance and I thought of you.”

“You are in trouble then!”

An hour later I was on a bus with 40 students heading out for a day’s field trip.

The History Class was visiting the Maritime Museum and the MacArthur Museum, and one of the teachers had called in sick. Who better to have on a museum field trip than a librarian!

The Maritime Museum had me, with my fear of heights and impaired depth perception,  climbing up and down narrow ladders between the decks of the Diamantina, following groups of students as they in turn followed a tour leader. We were climbing backwards, but the sailors would descend the stairs, front facing and often carrying their meal on a plate as well – there was no dining room for them!

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It was very hot below decks, and the ship is riddled with asbestos as was the fashion of the day, but the students appeared to find it very interesting.

It was interesting to see the hierarchy that was in place, with the captain’s room all beautiful crafted built in furniture including his own dining table, while the ordinary men had just a hammock to sling wherever there was a couple of free hooks. He had his own bathroom as well.

It was sad to see the condition of many of the displays, as they receive no government backing except for the occasional grant for specific tasks. It is staffed by volunteers, as is the  MacArthur Museum.

We walked through the old botanical gardens to the second venue, one teacher at the front of the group and I was rear guard to make sure no one decided to blend away into the shadows. We took the roll four times throughout the day, and delivered the same number back to the school as left in the morning.

The MacArthur Museum is interesting, because it is on the eight floor of what is now a hotel and apartment building. The floor that Douglas MacArthur used during the second world war is filled with replicas of his meeting tables, office furniture etc.  They even have a replica of his corn cob pipe, the craziest thing I have seen in a long time. I couldn’t get a full view of it, but if it is hollowed out through the entire length and then packed with tobacco, I can only guess he would have only needed to light it once a month and it would keep on puffing. How he ever thought it was “cool” surprises me!

A museum filled with replicas is a little odd, and led to a couple of odd exchanges between staff and students.

“This is the table that MacArthur and his staff sat at for meetings,” the tour guide declared.

“The actual, real table?” asked the girl.

“Well, not the actual table, but it was exactly like this…”

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MacArthur’s Brisbane Headquarters during World War II.

 

Because I had not had time to prepare a travel lunch, the other teacher covered the exit door, while I popped out and got a quick bite to eat. One benefit of being in the inner city meant that there were plenty to choose from! I had to ask the hotel receptionist to swipe me back into the elevator up to the museum, and just as the elevator doors swished shut, I glimpsed one of our recently retired famous football players, Darren Lockyer, walk into the lobby. He missed out on sharing the elevator with me, poor man.

Curse of the Turtle

It didn’t take long for the turtle curse to evolve. I awoke with back pain on Wednesday, struggled through the day at work, trying to access trigger points by angling my back against wall edges (you know, those sharp angles where two walls join; there is probably a name for them, but in my brain they are wall edges, the sharp end of the wall that hurts, except for when you want them to hurt and then they do nothing) but naught helped. I drove home and went to bed. I did not go to work Thursday, which is still technically today.

May I make note that on my drive home, I noted no evidence of dead turtle upon the road, which could mean several things. One, it was forever erased by the passing of many tyres. The most probable. Or it crept away to die in the great turtle dying lands. Or the version I prefer, it was okay and dandy and went on its way after a slight fright and bump from my car. The curse that befell me belies that though, if one is the believer of curses, as I was not, until I drove over a turtle and woke with a sore back.

Not that I haven’t had a sore back before. I have, many times. Perhaps it is better not to become to carried away with the metaphysics of it all, and just say that it was the day that was.

I spent a disconnected day lying in my bed, snoozing. I did watch a movie I had taped some time earlier, Ruby Sparks; selected for the only reason that I recognised it from a book title we have in the library and I thought therefore I should check it out. One of those improbably romantic movies where a writer’s character comes to life, then really comes to life to live happily ever after. I enjoyed it. It met all my requirements – a happy ending. My movies must have happy endings, or I spend days ruminating in gloom, even though I know it is, or was nothing but creative fiction. There is enough unhappiness in the real world, I don’t need it in my moments of escapism.

So, I watched the movie, ate the fish and chips that Mr FD sourced for us, and fell back to sleep. The television was on as I slept, and somehow it became intertwined with my sleep and I remember waking and thinking that was a great dream; I need to remember that dream, but full consciousness wiped it from my memory instantly. Maybe there never was anything to remember at all. Maybe it was Ruby Sparks.

anzac day

Tomorrow, Friday is ANZAC Day, which is our memorial day for all those lost in futile wars when we tell ourselves we must never forget, and yet we never stop going to war. Our government announced the purchase of new war planes this very day. Cut the pensions of the retired, make us all work until we are 70 or beyond, but spend billions on war planes. What a perfect world. And yet we lay wreaths of poppies every year and say “Lest we forget”.

My wing is starting to pain, so I shall cease my deep and meaningful and wish you all a good day. We are barbecuing with Daughter1, Mr Boy and Petite Fille, and my sister who I shall always adore. She is the good heart, I the evil. No doubt I shall sit back on my pillows and pontificate to them as well.

Adieu.

Australia Day

Today is Australia Day, and I guess I should write something about that.

Today is Australia Day. On Friday night, someone graffitied Captain Cook’s cottage that has been so painstakingly taken apart and transported from its original Yorkshire site in England to the city of Melbourne.  Saturday morning I woke to read a text message from a colleague that referred to Muslims. It linked Australia Day, Muslims, naked Australian women and beer drinking Australian males in a manner that was racist towards Muslims, but also, and perhaps this did not occur to my colleague, beautifully illustrated the “ugly” Australian image that so brings on more than just my cultural cringe.

Cooks' Cottage graffitied

I am not sure what either action means ultimately, but at the very least it shows that there is a lot of anger out there. Australia Day seems to bring that out in our hordes.

Australia Day when I was a child was largely ignored, except for a few communities where, if they had access to a beach, or a creek bank would dress up in replica British uniforms and before 1967 when we started thinking that hey, the indigenous actually do have some rights,  force some unlucky local indigenous to play startled and welcoming conscripts to the British Empire as Governor Phillip claimed the east coast of Australia for King and Country.

For a while after that, during the seventies and the division caused by the Vietnam War, I think we tried to forget Australia Day, except for the holiday part. Don’t ever try to part an Australian from their right to a public holiday. Not if you don’t want your kangaroo tied down, mate!

Then we wrestled the America’s Cup (yachting) from the Americans and somehow there was a gradual revival in the big day.

Every year, we are reminded by actions such as the graffiti that many indigenous people call our national day, a day of mourning, or for mourning. Who could blame them? The wide open country is yours, your culture is flourishing, your civilisation quite sophisticated, and along sails a flotilla of boats stacked with smelly, criminals, the great unwanted of the British elites, and illiterate soldiers to take away your world as you know it.  Disfranchised is the new black.

A couple of years ago, there were race riots, but not between white and indigenous, but with some of our more recently arrived immigrants, the newly disfranchised.  The news showed bare chested Aussie males wearing rubber thongs on tanned feet, Australian flags draped over their shoulders having a stoush with various ethnic groups on a city beach.  Add alcohol as it always is, and violence erupted.

What I remember most is feeling intensely ashamed of who and what, we as a nation are. We brand ourselves as multicultural, one of the “best experiments” in multicultural; as if we could return to “before” if the lab results weren’t favourable .  Or better still, develop one multicoloured pill and accept each other in the morning.

So, this Australia Day, as I wait to watch the evening news to see how it unfolded. I can only hope that this year the ugly Australian will not dominate. This year, I hope that we can progress in accepting each other, tolerating each other, learning about each other, and being a true multicultural nation. Though with Indonesia lining war ships up along their sovereign ocean borders to fend off those refugee boats that we Australians voted to turn back to Indonesia, where they also do not belong, I doubt that much will change.

And my colleague’s email? I would have hoped that they knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t find that so humorous. Obviously, they don’t, or they didn’t read the hate and the harm in the context.  My action has been to ignore it. No LOLs.  It is a response that ever since has left me feeling less like the good guy. Does my not saying something actually seem like a form of acceptance, or agreement? But then again, if I say something, I could harm a very important work relationship. It is like that story that goes something like, “they came for the village next to mine, and I did nothing, they came for my neighbour and I did nothing, and then they came for me…” Where do I draw my line – for me or the other guy?

Am I nothing but an ugly, or at the very least, a weak, Australian as well?