What a perceptive person that UK ambassador is!

Sorry, I just can’t let this go through to the keeper. What a twerp Donald Trump really is, that self-styled “stable genius”! I allude of course to the Hans Andersen tale, as did this cartoonist a while back:bs-ed-op-0724-horsey-emperor-20180723

Here are the tweets we have all seen, unfortunately.

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And here, courtesy of my Facebook friend Trevor Khan who shared this, is a comment:

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Oh my, the world is in such good hands, eh!

Kind of related: Gillian Bouras, Fool Britannia: On bad mannered Brexiteers.

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Mr Movies — and Cronulla High

Many of us noted Australia’s ‘Mr Movies’, Bill Collins, dies aged 84. When I (and Dick Stratford) were Dip Ed students at Sydney Teachers College, Bill Collins, already well known on TV, was a lecturer — in Latin! He also like all the lecturers supervised student teachers in their prac sessions, and one such he supervised towards the end of 1965 at Cronulla High. I was also in that prac group, but supervised by someone else. (I was on Brendan O’Connor’s classes.) I think there were three of us students. Bill was rather waspish in his comments on one of our number, and we didn’t approve. I recall us ganging up on him one day about the way he was treating that colleague, but it is fair to say he took it well.

In my October 2011 post Meanwhile in Sutherland in 1954… I recalled:

[In 1954] The Odeon was still a flourishing cinema presided over by a dragon in the form of Miss Collins, aunt of  the fabled Bill Collins. Here it is in the 1930s.

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BILL COLLINS: Oh, dear! I was born in a place called Sutherland, south of Sydney, in the Sutherland Shire. And I was born there on December 4, 1934. The house where I was born in is no longer in existence. But it was within easy walking distance of the Sutherland picture show where my Aunty Lil was an usherette and where I became a frequent patron.

In 1934 there was the Depression. I say sometimes in moments of anguish, “I’m a child of the Depression.” And money was not easy. Life was a little tougher. But I think we were a lot happier then. The 1940s was an extraordinary period. The war was on and there were terrible things that were happening. But we also enjoyed ourselves a great deal. There weren’t many of the tensions that exist in Australia today. I can remember so vividly the night the Japanese submarines came into Sydney Harbour. And that was quite an extraordinary experience because by that time we had a trench in our backyard, as most people did in Australia. It was the worst of all times, and the best of all times. My mother’s name was Rita May Collins. Originally her surname was Miller. And my father was William Michael Joseph Collins. That’s why I became William, or Bill. And sometimes I think my father was lacking ambition. He just wanted to be in the police force and he loved being in the police force. My mother, she was a teacher. And I learnt a lot from her. It was my mother incidentally who started my interest really in classical music, for example. And my mother, of course, encouraged my reading and all the other things that I did during those years. When I was young, I would rather go to see adult movies than go to children’s matinees. I guess I was about nine years old when I saw ‘Gone with the Wind’. And I’d never seen anything like it before. I’d seen other big films but ‘Gone with the Wind’ emotionally, I think, got through to me. And I still remember vividly, one of the greatest scenes ever conceived and put on the screen, where she vows never to be hungry again…

This makes Bill Collins just one year older than my brother, by the way. I might also mention that in 1965 Bill Collins, then a lecturer at Sydney Teachers College, was the supervisor of a colleague student teacher at Cronulla High – and we rather gave him hell, I recall, as we thought he was unfair to her…

That has got me thinking about Cronulla High again. I was appointed to the English and History staff there in 1966 and stayed until 1969. I had my first inspection there:

 I have been here in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills since 1992, and I brought quite a bit of unsorted rubbish with me. Some items go back, well, to Noah almost.

  • My first inspection report from Cronulla High School.

Mr W is an enthusiastic and resourceful teacher who is establishing good relationships with his pupils at all levels of the school.

His lessons are thoroughly prepared and informed: he uses a wide range of material and shows enterprise in presenting this material to pupils who respond well.**

Following advice earlier this year he has improved his supervision of pupils’ work, increasing his effectiveness in teaching. The results achieved in recent examinations testify to his successful teaching: the results in Form V History and Third Level groups in English V are especially commendable.

It is recommended that Mr W’s efficiency be determined as meeting the requirements for the award of a Teacher’s Certificate.

— E. Guthrie (Inspector) July 28, 1966

I see I had Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 English and Form 3 History  — That is Years 7-11 English and Year 9 History. No Year 12 as 1967 was the first Year 12 in NSW, and I took that (bottom) Year 11 class through.

** I am sure Eula Guthrie was not suggesting my lessons only worked with “pupils who respond well”! 😉

So I have been trying to recall my colleagues in the English Department in those years. Here is the list from 1969:

Looking at this list, what do I recall?

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Jack Morrison was a good old guy to have had as my first head of department. Phyllis Wheeler was totally amazing as a person and as a teacher. Soon after she moved on to the famous Frensham School in Mittagong….

Some other names that I also recall: Geoff Borny from Jersey in the Channel Islands — an interesting character, and what a career he went on to, Paul Herlinger — responsible for some great school drama productions, including a Hamlet that starred Robert Graves’s grandson:

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And more: Beth Kimball, an exchange teacher from Colorado who went on to tutor at Macquarie University then, I assume, returning to America.

Such a time it was of social change when I was 24, even in The Shire — where one Beth Kimball, an American teaching at Cronulla High School, introduced me to the following hitherto unknown exotica. Well, maybe not to the rose wine or the cappuccino, but they were new to me around that time.

 cappucino1 rosewine

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Hobbits

 bananacake carrotcake

Banana cake and carrot cake: both seemed quite odd things to do at the time…

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You would be surprised how hard it was for Beth to locate this piece of exotica. What was wrong with Bushells or LanChoo anyway?

From my 2006 blog: Don’t Blitz Iran

Between then (18 April 2006) and now we have had the Iran Nuclear Deal, in rejecting which Donald Trump triggered the peril we, and Iran, are now in!

The Poet has been taking some very good … photos. rainbow1The one on the left is called Bellarine Rainbow, and shows the part of the world where he now lives. It is a nice counterpoint to the following.

The Poet has also sent quite a few news items in the past few days. This one he says is a must. I agree. Brian Cloughley [link to web archive updated 21 June 2019] was deputy head of the UN mission in Kashmir (1980-1982), Staff Officer 1 (Force Structure) in Australian Army HQ (during which time he was appointed to the Order of Australia, or AM), Director of Protocol for the Australian Defence Force, and Australian defence attache in Islamabad (December 1988 – July 1994). He now lives in New Zealand.

…Even if Cheney and Bush are not lunatic enough to send their cruise missiles and bombers to attack Iran they might manage to have harsh economic sanctions imposed, additional to the unilateral ones in place by the US for years. They usually ignore warning signals, so doubtless they dismissed the unmistakable threat in September 2005 that Iran could endure a self-inflicted cut in oil exports in the national interest of combating what it would consider rabidly hostile action. It is estimated that cutting exports would raise the price of oil to $80-100 a barrel. This wouldn’t matter to the rich in America, who are all that Cheney and Bush care about. But it would matter to the average man and woman who are even now struggling to make ends meet as a result of the rich-supportive tax policy of the present Administration.

There is no point in putting the moral position against attacking Iran. The Cheney-Bush administration has shown itself impervious to argument, and presenting a case against killing thousands of innocent people cuts no ice with blinkered zealots. The planned blitzkrieg of divine strikes will probably take place. It will alter the entire world and create hatred of America that will never be eradicated. And there is nothing we can do about it. At this Easter time (and Thai New Year), God help us all.

By the way, I have cut back on the rants I put up about the state of the world, compared with a couple of years back on the late Diary-X. What is the point? There is little I can add from where I sit. However, people who do have worthwhile things to say may be found in the links on the right.

I do share with The Poet a clear conviction that the patients have taken over the asylum so far this century.

Much in Brian Cloughly’s post is still relevant.

Washington will not dare invade Iran, of course, because Iran’s military would not be the walkover that the pathetic Iraqi army was, and US ground forces would suffer thousands of casualties. The stand-off attack will be the usual video game, controlled from air-conditioned coke-swigging comfort, followed by ham-handed attempts at public relations damage control.

Not forgetting China 30 years on

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Yesterday SBS Viceland showed the excellent PBS documentary Tiananmen: The People Vs. The Party. I found it thorough and utterly consistent with what I had been told or had read — much of both by people who had been there. But of course the expected is happening today:

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Chinese authorities were bullshitting at the time, and they are bullshitting now.  And I might add that a fair part of my cynicism about some on the hard Left dates back to a time in 1990 when a couple I knew who had visited the Square around a year after the event assured me that “nothing happened there” — rather hard to accept when at the time I was interacting daily with Chinese students some of whom really were there at the time, some of whom exhibited post-traumatic stress one way or another. See some of my earlier posts:

Posted on June 12, 2015

Twenty-five years is a very long time, though as many septuagenarians would understand, quarter-centuries aren’t as long as they used to be. 1965- 1990 took, well, 25 years, but 1990-2015 has gone by in a matter of minutes! 😉

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That was taken in winter 1990 on an excursion to Wollongong with my class of overseas adult students. The couple on the right are from Korea, as I think is the woman with the red bag – or is she Chinese? Blue umbrella is Zhang Rui from Tianjin in China (a scientist) and next to him another Chinese, Ding. The taller slightly older man is Bill Zhang from Guangzhou. Lovely man.

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Bill and I in Hyde Park 1990. He had been photographing the grass so his wife in China could see this wonder: apparently at that time great dollops of lawn were in his eyes quite an exotic spectacle.

Why these students? As I noted in another post where there is indeed another story too:…

Here’s a related memory:

I am glad I visited the garden, as I called in on Sam, who has the “dress up as a Chinese princess” concession in the garden, something he has been doing for fifteen years now. I first met Sam, who was once in the Beijing Opera, in 1990. I remember it well. I was in a coffee shop and Sam was serving. I was reading an illustrated book about the Tiananmen incidents of 1989. “I can tell you all about that,” said Sam. “I was there.” And indeed he was. It turns out Sam is giving up the “dress as a princess” business in April, and going into something new. He’s over fifty years old now too. How time flies!

Some time in 1990 or 1991 I took Sam (and M and a guy from Tianjin, a scientist, called Rui) to SBHS to talk in a history class that was studying China. Sam rather stole the show when he told the students how his father, also in the Beijing Opera, had been beaten to death by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. Kind of brought Chinese History to life, that did.

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With my class at Wessex, probably late in 1990. Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese.

And:

….

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That publicity shot for last night’s Foreign Correspondent shows people associated with the Australian Embassy in Beijing in 1989. The gist of what we saw is in this story: Tiananmen Square crisis station: the Australian embassy in 1989.

Jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiabo was offered asylum from Australia in 1989 but turned it down and went on to become China’s most famous dissident.

Following his role in supporting student protesters in the run-up to the brutal crackdown that year, the literary critic turned philosopher and agitator would be imprisoned and tortured.

After the Olympics he was picked up again and this time given an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power”. He won the peace prize from behind bars and it was awarded symbolically to an empty chair.

The Australian embassy in Beijing’s cultural counsellor at the time, Nick Jose, had become a good friend of Liu Xiaobo in the run-up to the crackdown on June 3-4 when the People’s Liberation Army opened fire on protestors to reclaim Tiananmen Square.

“I took him in my car from my flat to the embassy gates and I said ‘Well this is it, we can drive in, the gates will open and the gates will close and you will have effectively sought asylum from Australia or you can go and find friends who live nearby’, friends I also knew,” Mr Jose said.

“He thought about it, he looked at me and said ‘Thank you, but no’, he would stay in China, he was Chinese, China was his country, China was his fate…

Nicholas Jose, Claire Roberts and M at M’s Chinese New Year Party, Redfern, 2009

Tonight’s Four Corners is a must see: Tremble and ObeyAnd here is a very relevant ABC story: Tiananmen Square massacre still remembered by Chinese soldier and witnesses 30 years on.  Another perspective is John Simpson, The night the lights went out: what really happened in Tiananmen Square. “Thirty years on, the events that took place in Beijing remain misunderstood – and the Chinese government wants to keep it that way. ” However, I do think Simpson is just a bit too clever in his article, and underestimates the significance of what so many of the students actually thought and did.

In depth and with an intimate knowledge shown of Chinese history and culture, see Tiananmen 1989 — Three Decades Behind China’s Gate of Darkness — June Fourth, 1989-2019. One item there I read at the time I was preparing my own From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt: trans. Pang Bingjun 龐秉鈞, with John Minford, in Geremie Barmé and Linda Jaivin, eds, New Ghosts, Old Dreams: Chinese Rebel Voices,  1992, pp.106-107.

In the First Light of Dawn

Xi Xi

In the first grey light of dawn,
We curl into the air,
Trailing from the ground
Up into the open sky above the square.
Limp, leaden, dumdum-pocked
The corpses lie
Mashed into the concrete.
Suddenly weightless
We drift
Like balloons.

We hear the sound
Of your weeping.

Mother, I beg you
Not to look for us again in the square,
The wasteland, where
Crushed tents, banners, command posts,
Public address stations
Strew the ground.
Teachers, students, friends
Are all gone.
The acrid smoke of gunfire
Fades as
Thousands of lives
Turn to ash.

Tomorrow will be Environment Day —
A Sanitation Show is planned,
The square will be scrubbed
Nice and clean,
As if nothing ever happened.

We hear the sound
Of your weeping.

We fell together,
Together we rise,
Joining once more our parted hands,
Holding our torches even higher.
A wound gapes
On one man’s chest;
A tank tread
Furrows one man’s brow.
But these wounds lie
On the body’s husk;
We are beautiful beyond compare.
Nothing can hurt us now.
We will share
The city’s splendour
With the stone beasts —
They, on their columns,
We, on the People’s Monument —
Calling
Across the square.

11 June 1989

Update 5 June:

ABC was excellent yesterday, specifically The Drum.  Later that night ABC News carried an interview with Nicholas Jose. (You sound older, Nick!) (But don’t we all!) See also Nicholas Jose, Tiananmen remains unfinished business for China, and for Australia.

When I published an account of my interaction with Liu Xiaobo in Chinese whispers in 1995, I felt I should not identify him by his full name. As one of the thinkers who best articulated the alternative China that many people envisaged in the late 1980s, Liu had played an important, courageous role in the events of 3–4 June 1989. I was with him when he made the fateful decision not to take refuge in the Australian embassy. That same night he was picked up while riding his bike along a nearby street and taken away. When he was released from detention 18 months later, he went on with his reasoned critique of the Chinese system, eventually authoring Charter 08, a call for reform, for which he was arrested again and heavily sentenced in 2009.

He was in prison when he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, which he dedicated to ‘the Tiananmen martyrs’, and in prison at the time of his cruel, state-sanctioned death in 2017, aged 61. His ashes were scattered at sea, preventing the site of his remains from becoming a shrine. It is hard to believe that one individual could so enrage the powerful Chinese Communist Party. It is hard to understand why China would destroy one of its best and brightest for advocating non-violent reform in legal and constitutional ways.

M visits The Gong

Had a surprise phone call Sunday morning: M and a friend were driving down to Wollongong and wanted to lunch with me. We settled on City Diggers. Their Sunday menu was particularly good yesterday.

M (who had a serious accident on his bike a few months back) has healed well, though he is still off work.

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The view from Diggers looking north, five years ago, when they were still working on the new Mall in Crown Street.

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Intersection of Crown Street Mall and Church Street, looking south — 2018