August 2005 revisited ten years on

And now he’s 70! Internal links below may or may not work.

Happy Birthday Sirdan

06 AUG 2005

Yes, Sirdan came into the world just as they were letting loose over Hiroshima!

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Quirk’s Grocery & Gourmet Cafe in Redfern, Sydney

08 AUG 2005

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAccompanied The Rabbit here this morning from The Coffee Roaster where I ran into him on my way to check out the new doctor. He decided to buy some of the excellent fruit buns from Quirk’s, a place he and I have become very fond of; unfortunately they had not baked them yet today.

I am very glad to have found a sensible doctor at last close to home, and just over the road from Quirk’s. He seems nice, and alert, and he bulk bills. The latter is a rarity these days. I got more bloody antibiotics for the latest tooth bloody saga (bloody!): bad gingivitis — I knew that — and maybe a fungal thing too — I didn’t know that. So the dentist will be next.

But I bored you with teeth far too much three to six months back. I will try not to this time.

Bloody! Add further expletives according to your background and taste.


No Sunday lunch

14 AUG 2005

Which is not to say I am not eating, but the regular Sunday lunch seems to be off today, but then I am not drinking alcohol either at the moment because I am still on the megadoses of penicillin. I suspect Lord Malcolm and Sirdan blew their entertainment budgets last week at the Bondi Icebergs where Sirdan had his birthday lunch. Or so Sirdan tells me.

I did get to church this morning though and am glad of it. South Sydney Uniting Church is proving very congenial.

Just had a free lunch

25 AUG 2005

The Rabbit and friend took me to Johnnie’s Fish Cafe in Fitzroy Street. The owner recovered from seeing me out of the Sunday Lunch context, and the resulting meal was much appreciated by all.

I worked at The Mine in the morning.

The Patagonian toothfish

29 AUG 2005

The new fish cafe near the corner of Redfern Street and Chalmers Street is open on Sunday and is BYO (no corkage). There is a Mediterranean feel to the menu — grilled seafood mix ($18) looks tempting. They have oysters too, but I am not an oyster person (snot wrapped in plastic?): I believe Sirdan and Lord Malcolm love them, however.

I’m so Aussie I reckon all the rest of you should leave right now!

26 AUG 2005

The editorial in today’s Daily Telegraph.

FEDERAL Education Minister Brendan Nelson’s suggestion that the story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick – who became known as “the Man with the Donkey” for his heroic rescue work at Gallipoli – was emblematic of Australian values and worthy of being told in Islamic schools, gave rise yesterday to the usual and predictably snide commentary.

Smug commentators motivated by a desire to attack Dr Nelson were quick to point out that Simpson was in fact British, that he had deserted from the merchant navy, and that he had probably enlisted because he thought it might be a way to get back to England.

Well, touche to Dr Nelson’s learned critics. It’s just a pity they seem so comprehensively to have missed the point – which is that Simpson’s example of courage and bravery, and even his casual disregard for pompous authority [like Brendan?], are very much representative of the some of the values we Australians admire and aspire to. Simpson – who was killed four weeks after he landed at Gallipoli – was proudly independent; he knew about mateship; he knew about sacrifice and selflessness. We admired his example in 1915, we we admire it to this day.

So it’s a good story for school children – not just Islamic school children, but all of them. It’s a story which encapsulates some of our most important values – standing up for our friends, courage, independence of spirit, resourcefulness – and it’s a part of the broader story of our development as a nation. It’s a story of which we should all have some knowledge.

Add to Simpson, stories of the likes of Weary Dunlop, and Sir Roden Cutler VC, and Howard Florey; women such as Nancy Bird Walton and Jessie Street – and even our sporting greats such as the Bradmans and the Freemans. They’re our stories of the people who stand for Australia, for what it means to be Australian.

So that our national identity is understood, so that our values may thrive, those stories should be kept alive. And the best way to do that is to give them to all our children.

You’ll have noticed in my “snide” entry on this yesterday that I linked to Bundeena Public School; indeed I suspect that Simpson and his donkey really do get a run in most schools come Anzac Day, if not at other times, along with a good many other things. I myself have an item on Roden Cutler, as you can see on the link in the editorial above, partly because he went to The Mine. It is very nice to see life-long Communist Jessie Street gets a guernsey in the above list of cultural icons. She was an ardent advocate of a whole lot of causes the current Australian government does not believe in. I met Nancy Bird Walton back in the 60s: great character!

But what a lot of insecure twaddle is being let loose by this whole “I’m more Aussie than you, mate” thing at the moment. The louder the twaddler the less handle they have on history and historiography, it seems. Truth is beside the point. It is the Lei Feng factor (see yesterday’s entries) that counts, it appears. I sometimes suspect that the jingoists in our midst really are the descendents of D H Lawrence’s Ben Cooley in Kangaroo.

And I’m a guy who always, even in the most multicultural classroom, taught things like “The Man from Snowy River” and showed Peter Weir and David Williamson’s Gallipoli. But I also showed Breaker Morant and read stories like Lawson’s “The Union Buries Its Dead” and poems like “Faces in the Street”.

I wonder would the apathy of wealthy men endure
Were all their windows level with the faces of the Poor?
Ah! Mammon’s slaves, your knees shall knock, your hearts in terror beat,
When God demands a reason for the sorrows of the street,
The wrong things and the bad things
And the sad things that we meet
In the filthy lane and alley, and the cruel, heartless street.

That genius Ray Chesterton burbles on elsewhere in today’s Tele about desecrating war memorials: I thoroughly disapprove of that, and also of desecrating mosques, churches, synagogues, and Aboriginal sacred sites, not to mention bus shelters. This desecration, he opines, must have something to do with not knowing about Simpson and his donkey, and multiculturalism. And possibly gays, though he does not actually say that. Apparently a pissed law student recently urinated in the El Alamein Fountain in King’s Cross. Sadly, desecration of war memorials, as in pissing on and worse, has been happening from time to time in Sydney for the past forty years, sometimes deliberate desecration for a whole range of motives, sometimes just mindless vandalism (see below.) But Ray is not the most subtle of thinkers. He is good at fomenting hate though, even if he thinks he is doing something different.

Not many of these jingoistic effusions seem big on the Eureka Stockade. Of course John Howard snubbed its 150th anniversary, as you’d expect. Not his idea of Aussie values.

Oh, in case you wondered. Yes, I would tell kids the story of Simpson and his donkey(s); it is a good story. I would try to keep him within the realms of the human, however, as I think that detracts from his deeds not one iota.