More “Neil’s Decades” –7: 2006

Ten years ago seems rather a long time, so it it as well I blogged February 2006!

I who may well be…: Cartoons and Violence/ Dorothy’s Autobiography

08 Feb 2006

My friend Norrie from church has had a say on the topic of the day.

…The cartoonist’s vision is as God-given as Mohammed’s, however we mortals may wish to exult one of God’s children over another. None of us has the right to decide what God’s opinion is of others.

One of my earlier adult works was “The Continuing Adventures of God”, and while I was fairly agnostic at the time, I had confidence that if there was a sentient intelligence creating this world, it would obviously have a very good sense of humour. Now that I am more confident that my reality is not simply random and unconnected, I am more convinced that we have not only a right but a duty to express ourselves, whether others choose to be outraged by our opinion or even offer us violence for it. In the parable of the talents, the one who hid his talents out of fear had them taken away, and the one who risked most gained even more that his own profit…

And speaking of church, another friend’s autobiography is among my latest from Surry Hills Library: Memoirs of Moving On by Dorothy McRae-McMahon (Paddington, Jane Curry Publishing, 2004). This review by Carolyn Craig fits neatly with what Norrie says above:

One of Dorothy’s greatest gifts is to encourage those she ministers unto to embrace the reality of Christ, the Lord of failure and the champion of the oppressed. At the same time she encourages those who listen to her to transform pain into abundant hope. Her sense of the resurrection is that it is a living reality—there are many deaths and many resurrections. One of her endearing qualities is her sense of humour. She can be quite an irreverent Reverend. ‘I am sure that God has a sense of humour too, and would love my wind-up Jesus that glides across the floor lifting its arms up and down in a blessing!’ Nevertheless it takes a courageous person to bare their soul as Dorothy does in these memoirs.

I have only skimmed the book so far, but was struck by the last chapter.

At this moment in my life I know what I ultimately aspire to be is a truly human being. That might sound very ordinary, but in my view it is not — I believe that to dare to be human is, in itself, a religious act. As a truly human being, I know that I am not, and never will be, God. This is a critical safeguard in my life. It means that I must offer my idea of truth and listen to those offered by others with openness and humility, and see myself in perspective.

As a human being, I try to act like a little child who, in spite of tough experiences, trusts every relationship and is optimistic about what might be. When we lose that capacity, I believe we descend into cynicism and hopelessness. I believe in the paradigm lived out in Jesus that new and stronger life is discovered on the other side of tough, vulnerable and passionate journeys into the deathly parts of human life.

I aspire to hold onto all that was within me in my creation — the feeling of compassion, the awareness of pain in my own life and in others’, so that I can sustain the longing to respond to injustice, oppression and needs…

As a small speck in the universe, I laugh daily at the absurdity of life and myself. I am sure that God has a sense of humour too, and would love my wind-up Jesus that glides across the floor lifting its arms up and down in blessing! I rest and play, write poetry and listen to music because I know that life is far more than I will ever know and can only be glimpsed in the mystery and the magic of different art forms.

There may have been times in my life when I thought that to be human was not nearly grand enough, but I have changed my mind.

It has been my great privilege to get to know Dorothy (and Norrie) in the past six months since first going to South Sydney Uniting Church. The spirit you see in that short extract is very much the person I have got to know. Perhaps you can see why I like church.

12 Feb 2016: Norrie (and Sam) appeared on Episode 1 of Hatch, Match and Dispatch on ABC last night.

NSW Department of Education and Training Home Page

09 Feb 2006

So you search “retirement” and you find “11 Separation from the Service 1 11.1 Resignation or Retirement 1 11.1.1 Notice of Resignation or Retirement (Separation) 1 11.1.2 Effective Date of Resignation or Retirement 2 11.1.3 Resignation or Retirement During a Term 2 11.1.4 Vacation Pay 2 Election of Vacation Payment 2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Electing Lump Sum Payment 2 Vacation Payment Entitlement 3 11.1.5 Reason for Separation from the Service 3 11.1.6 Long Service Leave – Payment of Monetary …” And you find “Last modified: 2003/09/17 23:30:07”: and of course the document tells you that Casual Teacher Pay is in Blacktown, but it isn’t any more, because now it is in Wollongong. Well, you have sent your yellow retirement form to Wollongong. To the payroll office, and they send the separation certificate to the superannuation office, which is also in Wollongong. Except they haven’t.

So you ring the payroll office.

In Wollongong.

And the phone picks up and the computer voice says “Goodbye” and hangs up. So you ring the Head Office in Sydney, and they try Wollongong, with the same result.

Which they have been getting for several days now.

And you say “SHIT!” Not to the nice woman in Sydney who says she is embarrassed, or to the superannuation office who just want to pay me my money.

When they get a separation certificate, which they haven’t so far.

So you check your details in the Department Directory; but they have gone. Because you are retired, presumably. It says “If it’s not here, check the Directory.” So you do. Except the whole Directory has gone too.

So you will try again tomorrow. And then you will go to the Teachers’ Federation to see if they can sort it.

Sponsors save opera Butterfly – Arts – Entertainment –

12 Feb 2006


And I am glad they did. I saw Madama Butterfly not in the Park on January 28, to which this article refers, but in the Opera Theatre at Sydney Opera House last night, thanks to Marcel Proust who had a spare ticket. The staging and direction were absolutely first-rate, and the singing from some of the lesser-known principals of the Australian Opera was better than adequate. I thought the tenor (Rosario La Spina) good, though of distinctly Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern appearance…

We were seated right on top of the orchestra pit just behind the conductor, who was so close one could have tapped him on the shoulder. It was an ideal position to listen to the orchestra very much as the conductor himself would hear them. I was reminded yet again that no sound system on earth has yet been able to capture the sound of live music perfectly. It was a treat, and an unexpected one I could never otherwise have afforded.

NTDTV’s 2006 Chinese New Year Global Gala: The Classical and Beautiful State Theatre in Sydney

18 Feb 2006

Well, the Opera last Saturday, thanks to Marcel Proust, and this tonight, thanks to M.

The State Theatre is without doubt a truly magnificent and unique building. Its importance has been recognized by The National Trust of Australia that has classified it as “a building of great historical significance and high architectural quality, the preservation of which is regarded as essential to our heritage”…

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The State Theatre’s palatial interiors feature artworks and fixtures of rare significance. The Dress Circle gallery houses artworks by significant Australian artists including William Dobell and Charles Wheeler whilst located in auditorium the Koh-I-Nor cut crystal chandelier is the second largest on earth, weighing over four tonnes.

From the opening performance, the State Theatre has been an integral part of the social and cultural fabric of Sydney. Its unparalleled history is a reflection of a dynamic city’s changing face, acting like a mirror to nearly a century of progress.

It was created as the “Palace of Dreams” and through fun, laughter, music, drama, romance and art it will continue to reflect the dreams and hopes of all those who grace its doors.

Yes, I know who is sponsoring the gala, but it should be spectacular nonetheless.

Really hard to credit these are ten years memories now!