Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 14 — a funny side?

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.

This is the best retort.

On vaccine hesitancy, or anti-vaxxers, Andy Borowitz nails it:

Millions of Americans Hesitant About Having Brakes Installed In Car

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!”….

I see Ben Marsh is a historian, specialising in American History.

The family’s YouTube Channel has this note:

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.

Check their channel!

And finally on vaccines:

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 13 — what can I say?

Changed the masthead on Facebook this morning.

Gladys will be announcing the details at 11am. Will The Gong still be under lockdown, or separated from Greater Sydney? I think yes to the first, no to the second… UPDATE: Which turned out to be spot on!

Meanwhile on Facebook recently…

If indeed The Gong is also under a further 4 weeks of lockdown, then, given there are 25 rounds, it is fair to say the Collegians/Illawarra Leagues Tipping Comp is cactus…

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:

Dorothy McRae-McMahon

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.

Taken 29 April 2007 in Sacred Heart Hospice Darlinghurst: Malcolm, Neil W, Danny Nel.

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:

I like the informality, don’t you? It turns out he is possibly the great-great-grandson of Franz Liszt! I think great-great-great grandson is more likely.

I commented: I do like a grand piano — and someone who looks — sorry! — plays like this!

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 12 — poetry and song

But first a nod to a great Olympic Games result for us here in Oz. Brought back memories of Thorpie in 2000, and Beverley in 1972!

Now to poetry. Here in The Gong, apart from more bad news about the Delta Variant and the lockdown going on, we have had some wintry and very windy days and nights. That there were relevant poems came to mind naturally, the first being noted on my Facebook a couple of days back.

By A E Housman:

XXXI

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

’Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon* the city stood:
’Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

Then, ’twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms an English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then ’twas the Roman, now ’tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, ’twill soon be gone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.

*Viroconium or Uriconium, formally Viroconium Cornoviorum, was a Roman city, one corner of which is now occupied by Wroxeter, a small village in Shropshire, England, about 5 miles east-south-east of Shrewsbury. 

On Facebook I wrote: The wind howled through Dharawal Country last night — and has for millennia long before there even was a Rome! Love this poem though — also the source of Patrick White’s novel title, “The Tree of Man.”

Fascinating creative things have been done with this poem. Here is one:

Filmmaker and puppeteer Jeremy Hamway-Bidgood collaborates with Daniel Norman (Tenor), Sholto Kynoch (Piano) and Brodsky Quartet on a new visual interpretation of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s song cycle, ‘On Wenlock Edge’. The poetry is by A. E. Housman from his collection ‘A Shropshire Lad’

In his cramped London flat an elderly Edward remembers his youth in Shropshire and his friend Albert. The two companions battle the elements as they climb Wenlock Edge looking for shelter from the storm…

Enjoy!

To come right up to the present. Through my WordPress Reader I have long been following poet Robert Okaji. His post this very morning is apt.

I Live in My Winter

Removed from the junipers’
fragrance, separated from
prickly pears gracing
the hill, limestone slabs
jutting from thin soil,
and smoke drifting from
a well laid fire on a cold
night. Old, today, I
call the clouds my
birthright, want only
to merge with them
and rain through
another black coffee
in this unfamiliar place,
this new home,
this welcome peace.

Then an Australian song, though written in the USA some years ago — Doug Ashdown’s Winter in America, long a favourite of mine.

Finally, a brilliant image from Blue Mountains photographer Gary P Hayes.

The photographer says: “This image to me particularly represents Australia, along with a few other notables I have taken.”

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 7 — share music

So many things out there! Where to begin?

Why not here in Australia with brilliant young musician Mitch Tambo? I have shared his work before, particularly during NAIDOC Week.

Mitch Tambo

A very different young musician, this time from the USA. Again, I have shared his work before: Josh Turner.

Carson McKee and Josh Turner

Then there is the wonderful series Playing for Change. The Bob Marley anthem which follows includes a very famous name — think Rolling Stones!

And you deserve a bonus:

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 6 — share the blessings

Don’t worry — this won’t be religious, exactly…

On FaceBook (yes, I find it a good place during lockdown) a friend I made at South Sydney Uniting Church back in the day posted about her grandchild’s birthday.

I’ve become a regular Sunday morning Zoom host for South Sydney Uniting Church , a task that teaches me humility as I have no, natural technical capacity. Each month we celebrate birthdays. Thank you so much Naomi Ward for including Billie in our July celebrations!

Julie Elizabeth McCrossin

Posted with this picture from the Church:

I of course noticed the bottom left-hand corner — and yes, that’s me! Naomi Ward, who does the birthdays, responded when I thanked her: “Absolutely we still see you as part of our church. I hope you had a good birthday.”

08feb 001b
In South Sydney Uniting Churcha while ago. I see Pat Corowa sitting under the middle window. The link leads to her portrait: salt-water Murroona and South Sea Islander, Patricia Corowa, a long time activist and a seminal figure in the Australian Black Pantherpan-African and pan-Pacific Islander movements of the  1960s and 1970s. The people one met in church!

For the past seven months my dear niece Christine Parkes has been in hospital, engaged in a major health battle. There isn’t much I can do about it, so each day on her Facebook I post a song for her. Occasionally two. A few days ago it was this wonderful discovery:

Billy Bragg’s latest.

Today it was a Wollongong memory — both of my return here in 2010 and Wollongong High in 1979-1980.

Something different today, Christine Parkes! Stewart Holt was the first of my ex-Wollongong High students I made contact with when I came back to Wollongong in 2010. We met at City Diggers, several times in the first few years. Through him I went to the Class of 1983’s 30th Reunion at Collegians. A great night. He is a criminal lawyer and proud dad these days, with a wife who is a teacher. Something of a singer-songwriter as well, and not half bad. And as you can see a FB friend.

With Stewart Holt at the 30th Reunion of Wollongong High’s Class of 1983

In fact this, which is both serious and funny, was the second one I shared with Christine today. It is very clever, very funny, and a calculated anticlimax stretching the wordplay in the final verse:

I noted on that one:

I encouraged Stewart to write when I was his Year 9 (3rd Year) English teacher at Wollongong High. He had a way with words even then. The following is from “The Gleam” 1980, the WHS magazine. I later also published it in the first Neos: Young Writers magazine in 1981, after I had moved to Glebe. When we talked at Diggers Stewart told me how thrilled he had been to have his poem recognised.