The past twelve months – 9 – May 2014

May was quite eventful. My one remaining uncle passed away and I went to Sutherland for the funeral. See Ian and I have just run out of uncles and Pause to remember, both 18 May. I suspended blogging until after the funeral.

Another gathering of the clan – and Sutherland draws me back… 1

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Neil

I am too tired to write up what happened today, except that it was really uplifting rather than depressing – for me at least. I love what I saw of the younger generation. But tonight this is all you are getting.


Sutherland sunset 21 May 2014 – Woronora Cemetery

See also Another gathering of the clan – and Sutherland draws me back… 2, Another gathering of the clan – and Sutherland draws me back… 3, Thinking over the past week, Sutherland revisited — 1, Sutherland revisited — 2.

Earlier in the month I went up to Surry Hills. See Monday 5 May’s Surry Hills excursion: 1 through to Monday 5 May’s Surry Hills excursion: 8 — and final in the set.

Light and shade: Devonshire and Holt Streets, Surry Hills

Followed up with Surry Hills May 2009 – recycled/nostalgic — 1 and Surry Hills May 2009 – recycled/nostalgic — 2.

Clarendon Hotel May 26, 2009 – now the Dove and Olive

Some reading/DVD/movies /TV entries: From Wollongong Library and TV can inspire.

Such was the case with ABC1 at the weekend: Richard Flanagan: On Writing – Love and War.

Richard Flanagan has written a book he’s called The Narrow Road to the Deep North. “It is”, he says, “the book I had to write if I was to keep on writing”.

In this conversation with Steven Gale, Flanagan is very open about what drove him to write this book. It’s just the sort of conversation you want to listen in on at a literary festival. Gale is a good interviewer and Flanagan a very willing interviewee.

The story is one of a young doctor and POW working on the notorious Thai Burmarailway during the Second World War. But it’s also the story of Richard Flanagan’s father and of all the men who lived and died in circumstances of extreme cruelty, where prisoners were viewed as less than human by their Japanese captors.

Flanagan verifies this with a trip to Japan and a conversation with one of the now elderly guards from the camps that built the railway. The prisoners were “less than men, less than human … and the rest of their lives was a search for the restoration of dignity.”

This session was recorded at this year’s Adelaide Writers Week.


Richard Flanagan: from the review by Peter Conrad in The Monthly.

I will be looking out for it at Wollongong Library…

The book has since gone on to win the Man Booker Prize and shared the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. No, I haven’t read it yet. I should also add that the cheese-paring at ABC means the Big Ideas series in which that inspiring interview was broadcast has had the chop in 2015.

A varied post on 17 May, part of which is about politics: Remember these things…. The Budget. Oh dear me, yes! And that story goes on, smearing a fair bit of faeces on the government’s public standing. Let me replay this:

Mr Rabbit reposted it, for which I am duly grateful.

On 29 May: Another of those teacher moments….

Today’s email delivered this from the University of Oxford:

I think you taught me English in 4th form at WHS in 1975; a long time has passed and all I remember about those lessons is Evelyn Waugh’s  ‘The Loved One’, a book which I didn’t much like at the time and still haven’t read properly to this day.  You did, however, encourage me to read books by serious authors and for that I’m very grateful; since then I’ve read many; Aldous Huxley’s are still my favourites.

I went on to do PhD in Maths, in Australia, take a post doc position in the Mathematical Institute  at the University of Oxford and then a lectureship there. I’m still at the University of Oxford.

How did I find your blog? It turned up after a Google search for Christopher Pyne; I regard Christopher Pyne with complete and utter contempt and I’m *very* angry about what he’s doing!!!

For example and for heaven’s sake, how can someone come out with “If an elderly person passes away with a HECS debt, they wouldn’t be able to say to the bank, ‘we’re not paying back our mortgage’”  and expect to be taken seriously! Dead people can’t talk and what has a mortgage got to do with HECS? Beyond belief.

I will forgive him about Evelyn Waugh: Year 10 may have been too soon for that, but  it being 1975 and my first year at Wollongong High I may have drawn the short straw in the textbook room!

So long ago!


Wollongong baths 1975 – linked to source