Back in time: posts from November 2000 and November 2001

It is a long time since I looked at that trove of ancient posts; the last entry brought them to mind as I sought to confirm the date of the Christmas Day bushfires in Wollongong and NSW more generally. (I see Jim Belshaw has been drawn back to his own archive for similar reasons. Good to see. But I fear I have become even more intolerant of self-styled “climate change skepticism” in recent times. I cannot even imagine why anyone in the light of so much evidence can even contemplate such an idea! But of course people are entitled to their opinions… Jim, I hasten to add, is very judicious with his.)

So time to board the Tardis. The posts were made here:

redfern

2000:

Wednesday, November 1

November began nicely, despite not sleeping too well last night because I was up too late fiddling with this! One of my favourite people (one of the highlights of my year 2000) came over for lunch, and I cooked some Chinese food rather successfully: I’m getting more proficient. 🙂 Since my friend was about to face an ordeal, he left better able to handle it I hope. I’ll find out later how he went.

He handled it.

And my flatmate came home later on and served up barbecue duck, rice, and lots of vegetables…

Wednesday, November 8

It’s one of those days when I have felt better—I put it down to an urge to have a frozen meat pie with my veggies last night. Always knew Australian food was dangerous! Fortunately it is my day off anyway.

Comments on the American election will have to wait until it is absolutely clear who has won—unlike yesterday’s Melbourne Cup!

I have been reading a fairly ordinary but diverting (if repetitious) mystery story, J Wallis Martin, A Likeness in Stone. Fairly clumsy structuring of the threads of narrative. Also from the local library and lined up to read are: Brian Masters, The Evil that Men Do, not a feminist work but a perhaps superficial look at notable instances of evil; Lisa Appignanesi, A Good Woman; Russell Banks, Continental Drift . Finally, from the library, is semi-professional reading in the form of Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, A Place in the Sun: re-creating the Australian Way of Life, Harper Collins, 2000. I have heard Mary Kalantzis speak at a TESOL conference, and read quite a bit of her work; it should be highly relevant. I am still browsing The Battle for God, and probably will be for some time. It adds enormously to my knowledge of the religion and politics of the major faiths, and is far from a superficial rehearsal of cliches about fundamentalism. It is historically rich, well researched, and carefully nuanced; fundamentalists would probably not read it, but maybe they should….

7.30 pm So, it is George W Bush. Let’s hope he gets a good team around him. It strikes me, as an outsider, to be a victory for down-home folksiness and money, an odd combination; certainly the Bible Believers will be happier–more “relaxed and comfortable”, to quote an Australian Prime Minister. Foreign policy could prove interesting, and it is certainly no step forward for social policy. Gays, even though there are gay Republicans, could well be weeping; it will be interesting following the comment on Talk City Chat, Planet Out, Gaywired, and other American gay sites. Gays in the military–and of course there are such, just as here–have suffered a big step backwards. Incarceration rates will be worth watching.

Given the significance of the US for all of us, let’s hope Bush rises to the task. He may well.

8.30 pm Well, that may have been premature! I suggest you click on the ABC link for the latest state of the Union!

Thursday, November 9

So–we still don’t know. Contemplate the following in the meantime, which I published earlier this year in my ESL Newsletter at school:

If George W. Bush gets up as President of the U.S.A. we can look forward to some interesting English. Professor Robert J. Fouser of Gakuen University in Japan gives the following examples as perhaps some consolation to Koreans and Japanese trying to learn English; George W is, after all, a native speaker. (SOURCE: The Korea Herald, 1 March 2000.)

 The question we need to ask: Is our children learning?
 There is madmen in the world and there are terror.
 We also know, and you know if you’ve got a relative who wear the uniform, or you got a friend who does so or a neighbour, the morale is low in the United States military today.
 If terriers and barrifs are torn down, the economy will grow. (i.e., “barriers and tariffs?
 ?a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses (i.e., “missile launches?.

2001:

November 16: An ex-student in UNHCR

I had a delightful lunch yesterday with an ex-student who was recently working in Pakistan with UNHCR among the Afghan refugees. What he said did not change my views on the subject; rather the reverse.

We also talked a lot about school issues and gay issues….

November 17: As time goes by…for us ancient queens

Not that I am a queen really; HRH in London is the only one I really acknowledge, and that as Head of the Commonwealth and a symbol of continuity rather than as for-all-time Head of Australia. Furthermore she is more ancient than I…

That lunch on Thursday (see the previous entry) also showed clearly how time passes. There was this young man across the table from me, with all his experience of the wilder places of the world, and there was I whose world has rarely extended physically beyond the outer suburbs of Sydney and Wollongong. Mind you, the travels of mind and spirit have been considerable.

I suspect that some of my impatience and despair about John Howard (as symbol rather than person) derives from the fact that I am actually of the same generation as he, and from a very similar background. But whereas sometime around the late 1960s and early 70s (perhaps it was seeing the truth about the Vietnam War that did it) I began to feel that morally and spiritually Australia was beginning to progress, to grow up, to be able to cope with diversity, to lift itself out of a regime of dull conformity and mass hypocrisy… So my path and John’s began to diverge.

Of course in real-world terms he is Prime Minister and I’m not 😉

Yes, my lunch guest is now the same age I was in 1975. John Howard, he tells me, is his parents’ hero. He is not my guest’s hero, although he also said that he feels increasingly less connection to Australia as such. In fact, so far from what we tend to see as the centre that he was actually surprised to find he had arrived back in time for an election! It was interesting that he referred to England as “home”.

When I told him a bit about the people in my life now, he said that it was good to hear of someone with the good taste not to really like gay bars. Thought I’d just mention that….

November 19: Life changes for some…and another web page

You may recall my nephew, Warren, who is an “exhibit” at the State Library of NSW as part of the Flinders Exhibition; he is there in virtual form as a lineal descendent of the family of Bungaree, the Guringai Aborigine who sailed with Flinders in his voyages of exploration about 200 years ago. I had a call from Warren at the weekend.

He has moved, with his partner, down to the Sydney region from Queensland and is now living on Guringai traditional land, as his mother’s family has continuously since settlement. Since it is Warren’s historical research that demonstrated the previously unacknowledged continuity of the descendents of the Guringai in that area, he is about to play a rather significant political role. There is a chance you may read about him in next weekend’s Australian. You can certainly see a lot of him now in the Cadigal Room at the Museum of Sydney.

I wonder if he would like yum cha….

November 25: Suddenly it’s summer… and time to free the slave

After a week when it rained a lot of the time and we had record low temperatures for November, suddenly today it has decided to be hot and cloudless. (If you don’t, remember I do live in the Southern Hemisphere.)

I haven’t smoked since last night and yes I am wearing a patch.

Aside from being conscious of the fact that I and the apartment both smell really off, I have felt tired frequently of late. I know that advanced age may account for this, but I am sure constant poisoning with carbon monoxide (among other chemicals) is not helping. And who can afford to pay $8 to $20 a day for a drug habit? I can’t, and I don’t want to join the street people who spend all day wandering up and down asking passers-by for cigarettes or money.

Yes I know I have done it before. Why have I been such a slave to this drug?

My system is quietly screaming at the moment,even with the patches.

I’ll keep you posted, but not too often… Just don’t get into cigarettes yourself; it’s not worth it….

Well, it wasn’t until March 2011 that I finally quit smoking, thanks to a stay in Wollongong Hospital’s cardiac ward. Nice to read in those posts about my nephew Warren, these days back in North Queensland and one of my most diligent Facebook friends! And finally, the mysterious ex-student in the 2000 posts can variously be found in Europe or Hong Kong, but principally in England nowadays. And of course on Facebook. Evan, I wonder if you will read this post?