Compare and contrast

As Michael Fullilove said:  “I have spent a great deal of time in archives reading presidential correspondence. I have never seen anything like this.”  And: “I actually thought it was a prank, a joke, that it couldn’t possibly come from the Oval Office,” the Democratic congressman Mike Quigley said to CNN. “It sounds all the world like the president of the United States, in some sort of momentary lapse, just dictated angrily whatever was on the top of his head.” See also Jim Belshaw last Friday: Trying to understand foreign policy in a Trumpian and febrile environment.

But, without further comment:


By way of contrast:


Hmm! Just compare the signatures!


My October 2008 photo blog — nostalgia now!

See it’s original home. Here are some faves:

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Hay Street, Chinatown

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Sirdan in the fondly remembered Chinese Whispers, Crown Street Surry Hills

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Down in the Surry Hills “lowlands” around the area of Elizabeth, Albion and Campbell Streets

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Sydney Boys High, Moore Park

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Ward Park, Surry Hills

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East Redfern


There are good things on TV…

Yes, there are so many cringeworthy shows, some of them unaccountably popular too. Can’t be bothered naming them! You know what I mean. But there are so many gems too. For example, I have lately caught up with replays of The Recording Studio on ABC. And last night SBS offered an absolute treasure: Struggle Street Season 3.

The controversial SBS documentary, which was criticised and labelled “poverty porn” when it first premiered in 2015 documenting the lives of people living in the western Sydney suburb of Mount Druitt, returned for a third season on Wednesday night.

This time it explores the lives of individuals living in Ashmont and towns across the Riverina region — an area distinctly affected by the ongoing NSW drought.

“It’s absolutely gutting watching this,” one viewer wrote on Twitter.

“This should be mandatory viewing by everyone in government. My heart breaks for our country,” another said.


See Meet the participants of season 3 of ‘Struggle Street’.

Last night we met:

Barry and Rosey

Barry’s family have been dairy farmers for a century and a half. Barry, 54 and his wife Rosey, 49, with their two young children, Annabella, two, and Lincoln, five, live in Deniliquin in the southern Riverina. As the drought stretches on relentlessly, their farm is on its knees. A lack of government-allocated water, escalating costs and the fixed price of milk have culminated in desperate times for Barry and Rosey. Rain is their only chance of salvation. Can they stay afloat long enough to save their farm?


For over four decades, 72-year-old Robert, known as Bob, has lived on the road, cycling to jobs from rural town to rural town, mostly living in a tent or makeshift lean-to. But since sustaining injuries when he came off his bike, he’s been forced to stay put. When we meet him, he’s living in a caravan on the edge of North Wagga Wagga and dealing with ongoing medical conditions. Facing the prospect of having to stay put, Bob is not taking well to the idea of giving up his itinerant lifestyle.

Mason and Katherine

Mason and Katherine live in Tolland, five kilometres from downtown Wagga Wagga. The suburb has developed a bad reputation due to its high unemployment rate and growing crime. Mason is looking for work and Katherine is stay-at-home mum to two-year-old daughter, Suzianna. Their home is a drop-in centre of sorts. Katherine’s taken in two pregnant teenagers and also helps Mason’s partially blind best mate, Ethan. When their home is broken into and ransacked, Katherine questions the environment in which she’s raising her child.

This is truly REALITY TV — a very healthy dose of reality it is too. A must watch.

On my brother — some images reconsidered

See Ian Jeffrey Whitfield 3/10/1935 – 5/4/2017.  Last Friday on Facebook I posted a photo from c.1940 of Ian at 61 Auburn Street Sutherland, where I also lived 1943-1952. My niece Maree (with whom I have only recently renewed contact) commented that she had never seen it before.

That took me back to the image I used in the post linked above. I cropped it in order to think more about exactly when it was taken. It also shows my sister Jeanette (19 March 1940- 15 January 1952).  My father was in the RAAF from 8 April 1940 to 23 November 1945. The following photo was taken probably in 1944. It shows the family grouped in the yard at 61 Auburn Street.  It is possible my father took the photo before he was sent to Port Moresby, where he served in the last year of the war. Reflecting on the fact that these are wartime photos has been part of my revisiting them.warfamily

Left to right: back row: my aunt Ruth Christison, my uncle Neil Christison (in RAAF uniform), my aunt Beth Christison. Front row: me, my mother Jean Whitfield, my sister Jeanette, my brother Ian. The photo is creased so much because my father took this copy with him to Port Moresby.

Now the cropped photo, which may even date from the same day. If so, Ian would have been eight or nine years old.


Just over ten years later, Ian (right) on his wedding day at 1 Vermont Street Sutherland, 1955:


Some images of my part of the world

… and a recommendation. Following my last post, I must recommend A History of Aboriginal People of the Illawarra 1770 to 1970 (2005) and Murni, Dhungang, Jirrar: Living in the Illawarra (2009), both free to download from NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

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And here are some evocative images. The first is based on “Native Encampment Illawarra 1843”, a painting by John Skinner Prout. The second is “Entrance to Illawarra Lake from the sea” (1840-46) by Robert March Westmacott. The third is self-explanatory, from the book above.

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