Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 9 — share music that is positive

This came from the song I have just shared with my niece Christine Parkes on Facebook which had this message attached: Love and understanding will take us further than hate and division.

And see the beauty in the diverse cultures of the world and this country, and (in this case) our neighbour New Zealand. It is a short and sweet instrumental piece, an excerpt of the traditional Chinese piece ‘White Snow in Spring’ performed by Wu Man at St Mary of the Angels, Wellington, in 2017. White Snow in Spring first appeared in 1895 (during the Qing dynasty) as a hand-written score in pipa master Li Fangyuan’s New Collection of Thirteen Pipa Scores.

If that leaves you wanting to hear more Chinese music there are many examples on this blog! For example: way back in 2013 I posted Music for the Moon Festival. One piece in that post:


And moving back to music many of my age and background would relate to — a song full of what might appear to be disillusion coming with age, but is at the same time really uplifting. Perhaps just an expression of limitations and humility — but that is a good lesson in my opinion. Looked at life from both sides now. I really don’t know life at all.

Far better than certainty or any kind of fundamentalism. Here we see the mind of an adult in this troubling world.

From July 2008 — and YouTube yesterday!

Let’s start on a lighter note:

Our rude ancestors: Old Sydney 2

Look closely at the following photo (courtesy of Wiki Commons) taken at Bondi Beach in 1900:


See what I mean?


I hope none of them preverts are looking at this site,! Just look at that bold little minx on the left, and as for that other one on the right, that’s so disgusting, isn’t it, Kevin? The photographer should be tarred and feathered, that’s what I say!

Coogee 1900 was apparently more staid, though God only knows what might have been there in the distance!


Didn’t know Charlie Chaplin was at Coogee! What he’s been up to down on the beach I will leave to your imagination…

So rude, our ancestors were!

And note the steam tram…


And now poetry and mortality: that’s a bit of a shift, eh!

Top poems 1: The amazing web site of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

The amazing web site of Shakespeare’s Sonnets is not hype; it is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful sites on the Web. [Still is: 2020] I go there for #1 in a new series on Ninglun’s Specials, where I promise not to be too original, but I do want to share some of the great treasures that have given me pleasure for close on sixty years now. Do check the VodPod in the left side bar too, as whenever possible I will add an appropriate video for each post in this series.


That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou seest the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the death-bed whereon it must expire

Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.

This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Oh yes, except in my case Autumn is moving into Winter…


That was taken in Canberra in Autumn this year by Sue, whose WordPress photo blog is well worth visiting.

2020 now — and July IS winter!

Yesterday I posted one of my favourite poems on Facebook from YouTube: Dylan Thomas reading “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Now here!

Blogging the 2010s — 109 — November 2015

First a gratuitous image from The Gong:

Friday reflective 1: heat and memories

This series follows from the random memories summarised last Friday. It will be somewhat wider in scope. I begin today with the weather….


That’s yesterday’s sunset from my window. Today promises 40C+. It is on track…

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald has an obituary that triggers many memories: Educator, sportsman and activist Ken Palmer had a knack for getting the best out of people. In my 2010 post More Cronulla High memories I wrote:

Sometime in 67-68 I was quite ill, actually. I recall saying to one class that if I fell off my chair to just carry me to the staff room! I was in fact suffering from malnutrition, having had hepatitis in 1964 and staying too long on a low fat diet. Some Vitamin B shots eventually fixed me, after one doctor had starved me further by mistakenly thinking I had a gluten allergy. I sure was thin at one point there. Yesterday’s photo must have been post-Vitamin B.

The Class of 1969 were also memorable, especially for debating, which I coached.

Good times and good people. Nice staff to work with too: Jack Morrison, Ken Palmer, Doug Goldstone, Paul Herlinger, Laurie Butterfield, Phyllis Wheeler, Geoff Borny, Debbie Townsend, Beth Kimball from Modesto, California, and who will ever forget Christine Fisher-Webster….

My youth led to one embarrassing moment when the Head of Science came out of his staff room and told me to quieten down. I was not wearing my jacket so he mistook me in my white shirt in a group of students also in white shirts for a pupil.

Today’s Herald:

In 1963 the family returned to Sydney when Palmer moved to Cronulla High School. He was then appointed head teacher (English and history) at Arncliffe Girls’ High, and later head teacher (history) at Blakehurst High and Kirrawee High. He suspended his school teaching for a couple of years in 1975 to accept a post lecturing in History Method on the University of NSW Diploma of Education program.

Palmer was then appointed deputy principal at Kingsgrove North and Port Hacking high schools, and became principal at Marrickville High in 1986.

As an educator, Palmer supported special school learning programs such as the successful “Write it right” initiative. English learning received particular emphasis, and Marrickville students scored well in the oral Shakespeare competitions. “Learning to learn” was another of Palmer’s passions, and he gave heart to many pupils who had been poor achievers.

As a manager, his people skills were outstanding. His staff pulled together and a positive atmosphere pervaded the school. In the broader school environment he was able to diffuse any potentially difficult situations with good humour and a few well chosen words…

It was his achievements as principal at Marrickville that brought him to the attention of the then Director of Metropolitan East Region, and in 1992 he was appointed as Cluster Director, Botany Cluster.

It was typical of Palmer’s humility that when first approached about leaving his beloved Marrickville High he expressed worries that his lack of experience in primary schools could be an impediment. He was quickly assured that it was not the type of school he taught in that had brought him to notice.

Rather it was his thorough understanding of teaching and learning coupled with his personal qualities of building relationships and getting the best out of people, regardless of their position or role. Palmer retired from teaching in 1994….

Ken crossed my path again in 1993 when I was engaged to do a research project on the teaching of reading in Botany Cluster. Lovely man.

Back in Cronulla Ken roped me into minute-taking at meetings of the Sutherland Teachers’ Association, despite my being at that stage a Liberal voter (only just!) and a subscriber to Quadrant. I also recall a hike with Ken and Dick Lynch up the Hacking River to Southwest Arm. Again today’s Herald:

Throughout his teaching career, Palmer still found time to participate in many community activities. His experience in country NSW gave him significant insight into the issues confronting indigenous people. He was also actively involved in the Reconciliation and Native Title movements. The Palmer house was one of generosity and a place of welcoming support and refuge. Many indigenous people were regularly welcomed there, sometimes simply to have a yarn or share a meal, at other times to live with the family for a while. The Palmer family was also a Host Family for visiting Colombo Plan students from 1970.

Ken and Jan become part of the team that established Kirinari Hostel at Sylvania Heights, to provide accommodation for young indigenous people from country districts to complete their studies in an environment that would help them reach their goals.

From Kirinari’s inception in 1967, Palmer was often called upon by the Aboriginal Houseparents and Kirinari Management Committee to give advice on a variety of issues. He was also passionate about human rights and he held an open and unqualified welcome for refugees.

He and Jan felt deeply the injustice of the policy of lengthy incarceration, and were regular visitors to Villawood Detention Centre. They undertook the hard nuts and bolts work of assisting incarcerated refugees with their freedom applications, health and other personal issues.

Politics was also an important part of Palmer’s life. He was a life member of the ALP, president of Caringbah Branch for many years, secretary at times and held many other positions on state and federal electoral councils….

Blogging the 2010s — 48 — May 2015 — b

One eventually runs out of uncles… There is one aunt left though, Kay in Sutherland. Today’s repost is a reminder of what their generation endured and achieved.

My last uncle – one year on


Neil Christison 1924 – 2014


See also Ian and I have just run out of unclesPause to remember and Another gathering of the clan – and Sutherland draws me back… 2.

He didn’t talk of it very much, but from age 18 he was very much in the thick of it, especially in 1943-45.

300px-DUKWs_head_toward_the_beach_at_Aitape comm_450


I do recall he liked Harry James:

So much one could comment on!

Been quite a few days in the news! But I will begin with nostalgia, before addressing just one item from the news:


Here is my father’s home town, Shellharbour in 1959, when I turned 16, and here is George Street Sydney a couple of years later:


Those years saw me in deep evangelical mode, as described in posts such as Consider–my world 1952 to 1959. Thoughts on the origins of belief, and Billy Graham dies at 99.

When I finally did go to Sutherland Presbyterian Church, however, even though the minister (Cam Williamson) had been visiting Mum from time to time, it was rather at the invitation of Ross McKay, a Sutherland Primary then Sydney High classmate – and girls were among the attractions.  So I joined the Presbyterian Fellowship Association around 1957 or 1958, and around the same time began attending the Inter School Christian Fellowship at Sydney High and reading the Bible via Scripture Union notes obtained there. I had a daggy copy of the Revised Version, a pocket edition that had been Grandpa Christison’s, and I remember being quite sneaky about reading it in bed late at night. My father caught me once and I reacted in such an alarmed way that I now think he thought he had caught me wanking. (That too, of course. I was a pubescent boy after all. But think of the guilt! You have to have lived back then to know about that!) Anyway, he looked almost relieved and told me I could read the Bible if I wanted to.

The climax – no wanking pun intended – was in 1959….

No, I didn’t go forward when the call came. I had already done that at a Fellowship Camp at Otford a month or two earlier. Oh, and in Sydney I was close enough to see the man quite close, comparatively speaking, in at least one of the meetings.

It was all rather amazing. Sydney had never seen such crowds, particularly for a religious gathering. On the last day the overflow filled the stadium next door as well as the SCG itself.

One of my teachers did mutter something about Nuremberg rallies, I recall. We thought that quite out of place at the time.

That was a profoundly emotional experience, that one at Otford. I can see now how I was in a sense set up for it, given the psychology and emotional state I have been indicating, and the fact I was rather a lonely and imaginative child.

And another post:

And my father? Very much impressed by the writings of Colonel Ingersoll, among others. Indeed it was from my father that I first heard the name. But his agnosticism – for such it was – combined with a respect for the ethics of Christianity and for much the churches did, though he, nominally an Anglican, did not really want to have much to do with them. He had seen, it appears, fanaticism in some of his family’s past – though he rarely talked about that or them. He did quote this back at me, though, when after around 1958-9 I became perhaps obnoxiously religious.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent

Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument

About it and about: but evermore

Came out by the same door wherein I went.

With them the seed of wisdom did I sow,

And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow:

And this is all the Harvest that I reap’d —

I came like water, and like water, and like wind I go.

And my Grandfather Christison, though the son of a woman of faith for whom he had enormous love and respect, was also truly an agnostic, at least as far as the institution of the church and the Holy Scriptures were concerned.  He loved his Dickens.

“…while I clean my boots keep a eye upon your mother now and then, and if you see any signs of more flopping, give me a call. For, I tell you,” here he addressed his wife once more, “I won’t be gone agin, in this manner. I am as rickety as a hackney-coach, I’m as sleepy as laudanum, my lines is strained to that degree that I shouldn’t know, if it wasn’t for the pain in ’em, which was me and which somebody else, yet I’m none the better for it in pocket; and it’s my suspicion that you’ve been at it from morning to night to prevent me from being the better for it in pocket, and I won’t put up with it, Aggerawayter, and what do you say now!”

Growling, in addition, such phrases as “Ah! yes! You’re religious, too. You wouldn’t put yourself in opposition to the interests of your husband and child, would you? Not you!” and throwing off other sarcastic sparks from the whirling grindstone of his indignation, Mr. Cruncher betook himself to his boot-cleaning and his general preparation for business.

A Tale of Two Cities

On “flopping” he once told me that when you see someone praying you should watch out for the knife in the other hand. He also deconstructed for me, as we might say now, quite a few of the stories in the Bible…

The following is not mine, but there is nothing in it that I would not have heard in Sutherland and in the Sydney University Evangelical Union in the early 1960s:

My response to the question is what I believe God’s plan is for all sinners, according to my understanding of my Bible teachings, specifically 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

I do not know the person who asked the question, but that didn’t matter. I believed he was looking for guidance and I answered him honestly and from the heart. I know a lot of people will find that difficult to understand, but I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear.

I think of it this way: you see someone who is about to walk into a hole and have the chance to save him. He might be determined to maintain his course and doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. But if you don’t tell him the truth, as unpopular as it might be, he is going to fall into that hole. What do you do?

Yes, that is Israel Folau in April 2018. The Tongan-Australian Rugby player has just got himself into much hot water over this:

Screenshot (247)As in the post I just cited, really he is just quoting St Paul, but…

What do you think? Does he deserve to be sacked? Is it an expression of hate, or something else? Is this contrarian view right? Though I do baulk at the word “totalitarian”.

Update 15 April

Actually, that last cited link is a farrago of cliches, though the questions I raise remain valid to me. Interesting to read this NZ Christian minister: Izzy’s Little List:

While personally I totally reject Mr Folau’s certainty that all unrepentant gays are destined to hell, I suspect Izzy’s main fault was uncritical acceptance of the teaching from a whole series of conservative Church leaders, and further, I suspect he was unaware just how out of step his Church’s teaching is with modern mainstream Christianity.

In short, a majority in the wider community now no longer accept that all ancient Bible verses represent universal and timeless truths that should apply to all people for all time.

I accept Izzy Folau was quite correct that even St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians not only consigns unrepentant gays to hell but also suggests a similar fate for the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, swindlers and the greedy (and those with haughty eyes!!). But don’t forget that if we accept all other New Testament passages, presumably we might have to question the rather generous pay for sportsmen like …ahem….Folau, which might make Izzy himself rather difficult to squeeze through the eye of a needle along with Bishop Brian Tamaki and most of the TV preachers of the mega Churches even as they echo Folau’s same concern.