So here in lockdown June 2021 comes to an end…

A good month for the blog, better than May. I may add details below at the end of the day.

However I thought a peaceful photo post is what we need — particularly of old photos that have come my way via local history and nostalgia groups on Facebook. I have given them a touch of colour.

Lake Illawarra: Looking towards Merrigong (the Illawarra escarpment) or the Saddleback, and what looks like a coming storm. That last detail becomes more apparent with a touch of colour.
This is a scene my father would have recognised from his childhood, having been born in Shellharbour in 1911.
Some nice memories contributed by FB just now. I was rather intrigued by “Mount Keira seen from Gipps and Keira street intersection at Smiths Hill in 1940” so, despite the resolution not being the best, decided to give it a touch of colour. Looks as if Gipps was a dirt road then…
The year my grandfather Roy Hampton Christison began as headmaster at Shellharbour Public School — 1930. In 1935 my mother Jean Christison, and my father, Jeff Whitfield married. In October 1935 my brother Ian was born.

This is the Shellharbour of those years! So rural! So small!
Here is Shellharbour in 1936 when my brother Ian turned 1 year old! Small town, as I said the other day. I can see the Church of England, the school where Grandpa Christison was headmaster, Grandpa Tom Whitfield’s house where Mum, Dad and Ian would also have been living in 1936, and Uncle Ken’s place!

June stats

As at 9pm there were 1,400 views from 509 visitors. That is the second best this year, after March with 1,558 from 671 visitors. The average views per day was 46.

And the years remind me that I am of another time…

Willie again. My brother would have loved this, I suspect. Shocking really that I am new to this — I heard this song for the very first time just yesterday.

Indeed, with my laptop’s camera I captured myself in the very act of writing this post.

I had been reflecting lately on Facebook:

You may have observed that now and again here on FB in recent weeks I have shown my hand, you could say, rather more than I used to do. Observant ones will know what I mean, and I know some may not entirely like it. But expect this to continue, perhaps especially on the blog for which my posts here are sometimes drafts.

I am approaching 78 very soon. When my brother had passed his 78th (October 2013) a few months on, around Christmas, he commented in his dry way that he had outlived Dad. Yes, in 1989 Dad passed away — Boxing Day pretty much — just one month past his 78th. My brother made another 4 years. My mother went 7 years beyond hers — at least one year too long in my opinion as that year was pretty miserable.Just saying, folks. Not being morbid.But one effect is I don’t want to waste my time on bullshit. Know what I mean?

This song — brilliantly and subtly done by John Partridge — does apply, even if I have never been a drag queen….

Old comrade from teaching days back to the 1970s, Rowan Cahill, to my great pleasure commented, though we disagree on probably more than a few things, “Understood Neil…no problem with this.”

Typical of the kind of FB post I had alluded to is this one reflective of our current lockdown, and of much I had read on social media. I was commenting on this item:

The body of a man who died after testing positive for coronavirus lay in front of his house in North Jakarta for more than 12 hours before an ambulance responded.

A video of the 64-year-old’s dead body lying alone went viral on social media, raising alarm bells about the dire state of Indonesia’s healthcare system, which has been stretched to its limits by the pandemic.

Indonesian authorities reported a record daily increase in coronavirus cases on Saturday with 21,095 new infections and 358 new deaths.

More than 56,000 Indonesians have died from the disease….

My comment:

Yeah, lockdown does suck. In my case it removes most of my social interaction, which is a loss indeed. On the other hand I can bother people here on Facebook! But before we all start bitching, blaming and complaining, have another look at this story and be reminded what it is really all about….

And the Peruvian guy I spoke to a week or so ago at the club whose family in Peru had not been outside their house (essential shopping excepted) for over a year….

And I look at my blog post about our lockdown and there is Tikno in Indonesia giving me health advice!

I also rather pointedly posted this from Archbishop Desmond Tutu with the comment: “I hope this is a meme we all can share!”

I have more than once railed against what we might call the partisan bitching memes which even really intelligent people on social media fall back on too often. They are in many cases really crude sloganeering propaganda — true even if you agree with them. But not this one!

And even more pointedly perhaps I shared what really is one of my absolute favourite Billy Joel songs, saying “I have long loved this song — and can’t help thinking of it sometimes as I read social media… And that seems a good cue to tell you I am off to enjoy Jack Irish on ABC-TV. After which I will check State of Origin…” Which I did!

I believe I’ve passed the age
Of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight.
I once believed in causes too,
I had my pointless point of view,
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.

So here I am, like Gerontion:

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities.  Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving.  Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or is still believed,
In memory only, reconsidered passion.  Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear.  Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us.  Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism.  Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

Yes, possible anti-Semitism there, T S Eliot — but it is of its time, and the offensive phrase is in the company of magical evocations of a Europe between the two wars, an age of decaying narratives, which disturbed the increasingly conservative Eliot…

Echoes of which no-one of my age can escape finding at times in their own hearts…

I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.


From our Wollongong lockdown…

Hoping Willie was right — and anyway the song suits one of my advancing years…. Enjoy.

So, I am rather glad that I went to the Illawarra Leagues Club on Friday for a last meal for a while of their excellent fish and calamari special (@ $7.95!) Took this photo, which now sits at the top of my Facebook:

And I put in the latest footie tips — but I guess that is also now in limbo.

Remembering last year — search this blog for lockdown.

For example, 12 months on from when the pandemic shut down Wollongong. An extract:

So here we are in shutdown…

Posted on March 23, 2020 by Neil

And here, thanks to Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris in NZ, is one good reason:


And “At 8.00pm Sunday, there were 669 confirmed cases of coronavirus in NSW — an increase of 136 in 24 hours.”  And “A major crackdown on gatherings will see the closure of indoor venues, including pubs, clubs, sporting and religious venues from midday today in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

So this morning Wollongong City Diggers posted on Facebook:

Dear Members and Guests, due to an announcement overnight that Clubs will be shut from midday, we have decided not to trade for a short 2.5 hours and then close again. This means Bingo is off, cafe, bistro, bar and gaming are all closed. Anyone with functions still booked will be notified of cancellations. However we will be using this time to commence shutdown procedures and thoroughly cleaning all areas. Obviously, we are unsure when we will reopen, this will be up to the Government and health authorities. We apologise for any inconvenience

And Ziggy’s House of Nomms, to choose just one of the regular Friday lunch haunts of Chris T and myself.


Of course the fact it is now the Delta strain of the virus makes the situation scarier, as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says, (And by the way I am simply not going to play partisan politics. I am well used to the fact that fallible humans sit in our parliaments, not Batman, Captain America, or Wonder Woman.)

And let’s face it, we have been very lucky — almost 12 months of comparatively normal life, thanks to our being an island, and also thanks to governments and people doing at least quite a few things right.

Breaking news — lockdown

Current stay at home orders will be extended across all of Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong from 6pm today (June 26) until 11:59pm Friday July 9.

Everyone in these areas must stay home unless it is for an essential reason:-

-Shopping for food or other essential goods or services

– Medical care or compassionate needs (you may leave home for a covid-19 vaccination unless you have been identified as a close contact)

– Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer

– Essential work or education where you cannot work or study from home

Community sport will not be permitted during this time.

Weddings will not be permitted from 11:59pm Sunday June 27.

Funerals will be limited to 1 person per 4sqm with a cap of 100 people and masks must be worn indoors.

Nine years, Jim Belshaw? How can that be?

On Facebook Jim posted a memory, adding “Is it really nine years?!” This is the memory:

Jim Belshaw — Daceyville — 24 June 2012

It was indeed a lovely day, on which I did two blog posts: Sunday lunch in Daceyville and More pictures of Daceyville.

(L-R) Noric Dilanchian, Clare Belshaw, Neil Whitfield and Dennis Sligar.

Dennis turns out to have been just one year ahead of me as a student at Sydney Boys High in the 1950s and we reminisced ourselves silly.

He was also a Public Servant of note and gets mentioned in Kim Beazley’s autobiography. Noric is of Armenian background and among topics raised by him was the matter of history and perspective. Jim’s daughter Clare is also quite passionate about history, particularly about the Julio-Claudians it appears and has a perhaps not unrelated interest in zombies. I also learned for the first time – though I am sure most of you already knew – about Kickstarter,  a funding platform for creative projects. What a great thing it appears to be!

All that and roast lamb too.

Thanks, Jim.

And not least was Daceyville itself — on which see the two blog entries linked above.