The past twelve months – 8 – April 2014

Anzac Day, World War One

25 April: Anzac Day, 27 April: More on Anzac Day, and other TV.

I watched proceedings on ABC. I thought the telecast of the Sydney march was very well done – nice to see that large Sydney Boys High band marching too. It was bigger than this one, but on the other hand this was also rather special – 2010:


Anzac Day Commemorations held at Bullecourt France on 25th April 2010

I preferred the dawn service at Villers Bretonneux to the one at Gallipoli, I have to say – though it is interesting to reflect on the fact that New Zealand has a Maori Governor-General and to note the place Maori language had in the order of service.

See also 24 April, We called him “Mumbles”….

M C I Levy, that’s who. Our French teacher in Year 8, as we would call it now. 2B French, that is. We called him “Mumbles” because he always spoke not much above a whisper, and compared with the other French teachers he had an atrocious accent. His lessons, for want of a better word, consisted largely of reminiscences of Paris some time in the Neolithic – or so it seemed to us. And the unfunniest funny stories we had ever heard. I seem to recall him reading a “Father Brown” story to us as well. Much of the lesson was occupied by him sending talkers – whether or not they were actually talking – to the Deputy Head to get caned; apparently – hearsay because I avoided this by sitting in front and, probably, talking to my neighbour – the Deputy would send them straight back uncaned when he heard Mr Levy had sent them. So we thought him a fossil and a fool, and we learned, I suspect, very little French that year.

And yet, if you go into the Great Hall these days, you will find on the World War One honour roll a name clearly added fairly recently: M C I Levy. I am not sure why he was omitted at the time. You can find him too in Parramatta:


He was an ex-student of Sydney High, and already a teacher aged 25 in 1914. Michael Charles Ivan Levy…

Memory and the past catches up

22 April: Canberra sixty years ago

Easter 2014 reminds me that Easter 1954 was my first visit to Canberra. The family camped at Cotter River.  We visited again in 1955, so some of these photos may in fact be just 59 years old.


That may be me on the right… The arch is for the 1954 Royal Visit

12 April: Email from Jersey, snail mail from Surry Hills, West Wollongong.

This morning I had an email from Jersey, one of those nice teacher moments…


Jersey: St Helier

A long way from West Wollongong.

Hey Mr Whitfield , hopefully the English teacher I had at TIGS 1974 !? Glad to see you are still about, you popped into my thoughts yesterday, searched Google and chanced on this site. I still remember your teaching  and kindness all that time ago ! Living in Jersey (Channel Islands off the French coast ) 20 years now but  little contact with ex school mates although dropped in there 8 years ago and stunned to see Mrs Hales still there ! I do hope you are in good health and had a great career.

Yes, Stephen, I and West Wollongong are both still here. You have done well! Am I right in thinking you originally are from Dapto, or did I imagine/misremember that?…

In the snail mail yesterday – though Facebook had had a hand in it – I received something from an old friend…

It was a copy of Fixing the Broken Nightingale, Richard James Allen’s recent book.

Fixing the Broken Nightingale contains poems of paradox, cynicism, tenderness, outrage and resignation, fleeting lust and enduring love, observation, invention and glimpses of enlightenment written by this widely published and charismatic author, whose earlier books include the critically lauded The Kamikaze Mind (Brandl & Schlesinger) and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award-nominated Thursday’s Fictions (Five Island Press), and whose previous work also includes multi-award-winning creativity for the screen, the stage and new media platforms.

Sourced that from, which is interesting in itself.

I will have more to say later, but I can say I had a good time reading the book in Diggers yesterday, and some poems immediately invited longer reading.

I have known Richard since Neos days. See Twenty years ago Neos came to an end…, except that as of next year it will be thirty! See highlights from Neos 1 and 2.


28 April: Return of the Yum Yum Cafe.

You may have gathered, if you are a regular, that one of my haunts is the Yum Yum Cafe in West Wollongong – a nice morning walk for coffee and the newspapers. Alas, it was closed from Good Friday (18 April) through to this morning. They were doing some painting and other stuff down there.