He is the same age as the Queen and Sir David Attenborough, and in his own right just as remarkable. I mentioned him in my post Clubs the other day:
Lately I have found a group of regulars with whom I can always find companionship and a chat. None of them was ever a teacher. (Chris T at Steelers was for a while, but has also been a forester and is currently a chef.) They range from retired builder – as was my father and is my brother – to another chef to retired biochemist to former Lord Mayor….
City Diggers, Wollongong
He is the retired biochemist. I feel I can give you more of an introduction to Neville as he has done so himself on ABC Open. His conversation is just like those admirable 500 word entries. Here is a sample from August 2014. I doubt I will be writing like this at 88!
Heaven out of Hell
By Neville P · 2 min read · From 500 Words: Right here, Right now
Right here and now there are a few things that require attention: that squawling infant needs to be consoled; it’s time to make another coffee; and that annoying doorbell needs to be answered.
All well and good, except for the one thing that’s always eating into me – the feeling that we all need to belong, to be part of a group and to be satisfied with whatever we need to contribute.
Do we automatically find our place in such groups? Not necessarily. In childhood we may have loving parents and one or more siblings. We’re in a group, like it or not.
Then at school we are thrown into a mob of other children who may be both welcoming or frightening. Somehow, we adapt and may make lifelong attachments.
Right here and now I’m at this meeting with a bunch of accomplished writers and Len is sounding off on the need to start the next revolution. I tell him, yeah, from midnight tonight he’ll be in charge of the guillotine, responsible for counting the severed heads and bagging them up. For some reason, the need for a revolution suddenly loses its urgency.
Sean from our national broadcaster, casts a jaundiced eye over his bunch of unruly disciples, probably wondering what trick of fate landed him with this lot. If he asked me, I’d tell him that Fate is both unpredictable and irresponsible.
As far as I know, I’m the only declared atheist in the crew. If any are religious then at least they have the good manners not to proselytise.
Let’s face it: people like me with no faith in the supernatural and magic risk being excluded from quite a few social groups. That’s part of the territory that comes with atheism.
Okay, but there’s still this gnawing sensation in the gut that speaks to me of something that has to be resolved.
A lot of things were better when I was living with my wife and three children. Then, back in the dim, dark ages of the year 1970, in Canada, my wife suddenly pulled up stakes, splits, and she’s off to join that scarey mob, the New Agers.
I was left with the young children and we simply got on with our lives, at a level of satisfaction less than what we had before. We didn’t need any sympathy, we just managed as best we could.
Right here and now in the year 2014 I live alone and have a good friend out in Thirroul who I see regularly. She and I are an odd couple and we stick together because of our intellectual interests.
Having written this, I’m beginning to see that the dissatisfaction that sometimes overwhelms me is of my own making. After all, I’m active in U3A Wollongong and get on well with most of those people.
And, I’m in frequent contact with my daughter in Brisbane who I love dearly.
Why should I expect things to be any better?
I’m reminded that one of England’s great poets, John Milton, once said the following: The mind is its own place and can make a Heaven out of Hell.
There is a Gallipoli connection too, which Neville has mentioned.