On Facebook I posted in relation to this, the worst industrial disaster in Australian history, and was surprised that one of my Aussie friends had never heard of it before — and he is a real history buff too!
I had posted about it back in 2010 when my friend Sirdan (now in NZ) and I visited the Mount Kembla pub — in the building/repair of which my grandfather Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield had a hand in the late 19th century.
An explosion at 2pm on July 31, 1902, at Mt. Kembla colliery killed 96 men and boys. The sound of the explosion could be heard in Wollongong, some 7 miles away. At the end of the day 33 women were widows and 120 children were fatherless.
The hundreds of rescuers were headed by former Keira Mine manager and ex-mayor of Wollongong, Major Henry MacCabe who had played a vital part in rescue efforts at the Bulli Mine disaster in 1887 which killed 81 miners.
MacCabe and Nightshift Deputy, William McMurray were to lose their own lives during the rescue effort to the effect of “overpowering fumes”, adding 2 more deaths to the 94 miners…
I refer there to yesterday, which was quite productive in my Facebook world of real-life friends, relations and ex-students, as well as what in pre-internet days we might have called pen-pals. The next entry of two will catch up on more of that.
But first the good news: my toothache seems to have gone.
And then the bad news: NSW (Greater Sydney in particular) is far from out of the woods when it comes to the Delta strain.
And in The Gong:
Finally, a photo of Sydney in 1901 from the National Library Archives was posted in the Old Sydney Album on Facebook. “George Street, near the corner of Market Street, Sydney 1901. Federation Celebrations.” I gave it a modest colouring:
My note on that:
I remember around 1953-1955 my grandfather Roy Christison telling me about being in the city during these 1901 celebrations, when the country Australia formally came into being. Indeed I think he was in Centennial Park for the great proclamation.
To me then that seemed SO long ago — but now I reflect that 1970 is back in time from now a similar distance — or the election of Gough Whitlam, for example! Yes, I am my own grandpa!
And this was back in 1971 — not that I was in this place, but the vibe I recall from FIFTY years ago. Went to a folk concert at the Jamberoo pub sometime around then though.
And followings, you could say. But this series is looking like it could go on forever here in The Gong, and Greater Sydney of course. And I have had toothache and am contemplating what to do about it, given the circumstances. Meanwhile parts of Sydney are to see the ADF (our military) on the streets, as indeed happened during last year’s lockdown. A rare event in our country — well, since convict days anyway… Oh, and the Eureka Stockade…
The military will join NSW police in the areas worst hit by Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak to ensure two million residents are complying with tough NSW government lockdown restrictions.
But people shouldn’t be intimidated by the presence of 300 Australian Defence Force personnel in the streets of western and southwest Sydney, Defence Minister Peter Dutton says.
“I want it to be a message of reassurance that they are helping NSW Police,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Friday.
“We can get ourselves through COVID even more quickly if we’ve got the defence force personnel there helping.”
As NSW braces for new case numbers to top Thursday’s high-water mark of 239, police will begin knocking on doors looking for people in homes other than their own in eight local government areas in the west.
Meanwhile, let’s pause for some fun, thanks to two things I have shared lately here and on Facebook. First that amazing Marsh family in England and their COVID lockdown song parodies. This one I just saw for the first time. I love it!
Then there is that pianist, who happens to be younger than my blogging habit — being born in 2001! He is also on Facebook and Instagram of course. Michael Andreas Haeringer was born on September 26, 2001 in Barcelona. From an early age he developed a great in interest in music. So not yet 20. His parents are German originally, and he is indeed descended from the great Franz Liszt.
In June 2014 he won the first prize of the music competition in Braunschweig, Jugendmusiziert Bundeswettbewerb. He also won the special prize; Europa prize!! and the first prize of piano competition of the Conservatory of Barcelona with receiving the honorary prize on June 27. Michael managed to finish the six year Conservatory course in only four years. In 2016 he received the “Young Virtuoso Award” at the Manhattan Music Competition. In 2018 Michael was the finalist of Got Talent Spain, with his own compositions of soundtracks. Michael has won the Silver Medal at the Berliner International Music Competition 2018, being the youngest pianist of this edition “at the Manhattan Music Competition”. In 2018 Michael was the finalist of Got Talent Spain, with his own movie soundtracks. Michael has won the Silver Medal at the Berliner International Music Competition 2018, being the youngest pianist of this edition.
He’s on OK pianist too!
And here something completely different!
He also posts his own compositions under the name DJ MAH. This one is from January 2021: “I made Not Really Livin ‘ in lockdown. I dedicate my new song to everyone affected by the Coronavirus.”
It would, finally, be remiss of me not to share this one which he posted on Facebook.
You’ve got to laugh, or at least smile. Well, perhaps so — whatever, that is the emphasis today. Again pretty much things I have floated/shared on Facebook.
I had on FB just now a video “suggested” on how I should join a “freedom rally” ASAP — as in Sydney last Saturday. This of course is the last thing any sane person would want, and I noted the video was made by/came from the Bonkers Twit Lizard itself, David Sicko. (I am sure you will guess.) I promptly reported the video to Facebook for its false health information and blocked further “suggestions” from Sicko. He has the right to free speech, as long as he confines it to his own shower or toilet.
On Monday I introduced you not only to the beautiful young pianist I shared more of yesterday, but to the most amazing English family you will ever see, who have been chronicling COVID lockdown — and lately its easing — from their home. They are so clever, the relationships in the family are so genuine and warm, and they all, from the youngest up through the constantly growing teenage son to the parents, know exactly what they are are doing.
I see they have even made the New York Times! But I will share this from the Watford Football Club, 10 May 2020.
Professional football might be suspended due to the ongoing national lockdown, but the exploits of one family of Hornets supporters meant more than 10 million people still turned on their screens to see the yellow flash of a Watford shirt last month….
The Marsh family live in Kent, with Ben and Danielle both working at Kent University, meaning it’s quite the round trip for the four season-ticket holders in the household. But their deep-rooted connection to the club stems from Ben’s father, who used to go to even greater lengths to watch the team under Graham Taylor….
Ben’s parents are also the reason for the family’s music connection, and this wasn’t the first production they’ve recorded together in the household.
“My Mum and Dad are both music teachers so on my side of the family there has always been loads of music around,” Ben explained. “We’ve never done anything professional, we’ve never had training, but there’s always been plenty of music in our lives because of my family background, so the kids have probably got more confidence than they would have had, but they’ve never been to stage school or anything like that.
“We’ve recorded videos for two or three years, since Tess was able to sing or play an instrument, and we’ve tended to do things for Christmas or the grandparents’ birthdays. We definitely try to use the music to try to keep them occupied, keep them going and keep everyone smiling as a family. We always try to pick songs the kids know and like, because there’s no point trying to make them do something they’re not interested in. It didn’t feel like there was any pressure at all, and we could just have a laugh with it and make fools of ourselves, not realising that 10 million people were about to see it!”….
In response to the overwhelming messages we received after our “One Day More” parody going viral (03/2020), we stuck up some of the family antics and music videos we made on this channel, charting our musical journey through the pandemic, here in Kent, in the UK.
From our original song, any revenue or appearance fees we donated to the W.H.O. COVID-19 Solidarity Fund. In February 2021, we supported Save the Children, with huge thanks to those who were able to chip in. In March 2021, we supported the wonderful efforts of Comic Relief and Red Nose Day, with thanks to those who contributed to our JustGiving page total which (with gift aid) generated more than £15,000, contributing to the national campaign’s incredible £55m.
Thanks for your lovely comments in recent weeks and months, and we’re really glad that we seem to be bringing a smile to quite a few people who need it.”Wishing you all a safe path through the pandemic, and speedy recoveries on the other side.
The Marsh Family
As an Australian I was particularly struck by their version of Gotye’s wonderful “Someone That I Used To Know.” Remember it?
Here is what the Marsh family did with it on 6 June 2021t:
Their latest is about the current easing of lockdown in Britain.
And something completely different, and beautiful — as memories, but also present comfort. I happened on this from 2016, having been unaware until now that it had happened. But first just one past blog entry among many I might have chosen:
Trinity Sunday in South Sydney Uniting Church — 3 June 2007
Dorothy McRae-McMahon’s blessing for Malcolm came back home today and sat on the communion table throughout the service. Dorothy had, as you may remember, visited Malcolm on a number of occasions and the visits and the blessing were much appreciated. Today his own life summary was read at the start of the service. While Malcolm was not himself especially religious, he knew of and welcomed the interest from the people of South Sydney, which also had its practical side. For example, the South Sydney Herald, the church paper, stood ready to go into bat if necessary when Housing were being problematic, though that did not have to come to pass thanks to this blog, Clover Moore, and Jim Belshaw and, of course, others in the NSW Housing Department.
Malcolm enjoyed Dorothy’s profile of Bob Gould in the May 2007 edition too.
I was given a card and a plant today, which I very much appreciate. It has helped to have the church folk behind me in the past year.
I added: Privileged to have known Dorothy! See the comment for just one instance, but a powerful one, from 2007. It is very likely one of the most beautiful things you will ever read, and full of the spirit of Dorothy. See this item from the 21 July 2021 Launceston Examiner. This is what I referenced in the comment section, the service Dorothy wrote and conducted for Malcolm’s Memorial Service at St Vincent’s Hospital 29 June 2007. An extract, showing the spirit of both:
I only met Malcolm Gleeson three times in the days towards the end of his life. It says something about him that those three visits are ones which I will never forget. It was not that we talked much, although we did have some conversation on living and dying and how I perceived that.
There was something about this man which told me that I was in the presence of a special human being. I can’t even describe what it was. I loved his beautiful face and told him that – even when it had lost its normal fullness which I saw later in an early photograph, it was still beautiful. I like his quirky sense of humour and his directness – an extraordinary mixture of unusual strength and yet vulnerability.
As I tried to get some insight into what had formed his life, I could see that to soar into the skies or spread your life across the oceans was part of him. Still I puzzled about sensing something much more in this person – an indefinable depth of being.
Last Sunday, his friend Neil gave me a loan of a little notebook in which there were a few pages of quotations which were precious to Malcolm. He had written them in tiny handwriting, some of them in other languages. He noted that the black pen quotes were about love “following Williams’ precedent”.
There were quotes from Dante, Hegel, Kant, Karl Marx, Kierkegaard, Wordsworth, Nietzsche, Foucault, Freud and others whom I didn’t even recognise. Many of the quotes were so profound that it took me some time to reflect on what they might mean. I have photocopied them all so that I can go more deeply into them with my philosopher daughter.
A couple I liked and understood were both by Kierkegaard:
“At first sight, I perceived that he was a poet – if for no other reason I saw it in the fact that a situation that would have been taken easily in stride by a lesser mortal expanded into a world event for him”
“I know that what I have hitherto understood is very little, so there will always be enough left behind, hiding in the shadows of the soul’s vaguer intimations”
His last entry was by John Barth:
“Things must be wept for.”
Yes, they must, Malcolm and we weep for you.
The quotes which I read helped me to understand the instinct which I had about Malcolm – that the fragile body I saw before me was holding a deep and complex person. It also explains why I immediately wanted to write a blessing for him, which he framed and kept beside him.
As beautiful now as it was at the time — and let it be noted that Malcolm was taken by the late stage of another pandemic, one that motivates the pronouncements on the present one by one of the heroes of that struggle, Bill Bowtell.
But back to Dorothy: I commented further:
Dorothy! And South Sydney Uniting Church… Such a positive, amazing person, and so humble in the right way. What you see is what you get with Dorothy. I knew her late partner too, though not as well. She was a photographer, and once accompanied me on one of my junior reporter gigs for the South Sydney Herald.
Now a recent example of fandom, innocent of course. I do find myself rather attracted by the talents of that young pianist I introduced you to the day before yesterday. Now why should that be? Let is look into it further:
#Strongwomen. "I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful - for all of it." Kristin Armstrong