Selections via the Internet Archive.
March 6 2001
Went to the Albury after a busy couple of days; Sirdan was there and eventually PK. The highlight of the evening was meeting a young Aboriginal gay guy from Cairns, Gabriel.
The details I won’t report, but the conversation simply transcended politics, stereotypes (both black and white). It was an eye-opener. Thanks Gabriel, for giving me hope on so many of these thorny issues. 🙂
I wished both the M’s in my life had been there to join in.
Great meatballs M., I should add, enjoying them right now. Life’s not bad.
Last night’s conversation
I said yesterday I had had a conversation with an Aboriginal man from Cairns/Cooktown. He is in his late 20s or early 30s, I would say; very well spoken, having completed High School to the HSC, and is a self-confessed explorer, having spent some time in New Zealand, where he was embraced by the Maori, and has lived in Sydney for some time now. He had also lived in Melbourne. Last night he was celebrating some good news–starting a job on Monday.
He said he never encountered racism in Cairns or Cooktown; the first time he really encountered it was in Sydney and Melbourne.
He could make no comment on the Hindmarsh Island affair, because they are not his people, so he does not know. The cultural diversity of Aboriginal people was a point he insisted on. His people, for example, are matriarchal and peaceful. That is why they looked after Captain Cook at the Endeavour River; had he landed somewhere else he may have been attacked and killed. Gabriel had no problem with being gay among his own people as it is accepted, but among the desert peoples, who tend to be patriarchal, it may have been a problem. However, at school in Cairns he did encounter homophobia–but not racism.
He hates it when anyone claims to speak for the Aboriginal people as a whole. He is personally “over” this whole “sorry thing”. He says we should just get on with it. He agreed that “reconciliation” means all Australians acknowledging the good and bad in their shared history, with honesty. He still speaks his Aboriginal language and is in touch with his culture. When he first came to Sydney he was shocked by Redfern and sees the people there as broken and their problems admitting no easy solution.
He hates all racism, including Aboriginal racism. If he saw an Asian under attack he would be the first to defend him. As far as he is concerned all are welcome in Australia. He sees the current rise of racism and disillusionment with political parties and institutions as being very dangerous, and drew analogies with Weimar Germany.
He is committed to the cultures of indigenous peoples everywhere, thrilled by his experience in New Zealand. If he went to the United States it would be to explore Native American cultures. He says you don’t have to believe literally in the Dreaming to benefit from it. Speaking of beliefs, he had from 16 to 21 been a Mormon, until his own research revealed that black skin was still regarded as the “mark of Cain” and no black person could hope to reach the highest Heaven. He found this repellent and left the religion.
A wide-ranging conversation indeed. I hope to meet him again.
* Coffee was nice yesterday, though my tone might have been a bit hectoring at times? Put it down to adrenalin…
* Praise for my school Communities page: the District Consultant says it is excellent and has referred it to the editor of Racism No Way (the official Department of Education-endorsed site) and to Multicultural Branch in the Department. Some nice feedback on the guestbook and from some parents. A glitch concerning this stuff did occur at school, but strategies to get around it are in place now.
* Students report that a slight mistake in entering the URL to the Year 10 site leads to a porn site instead! Maybe that is where Magic Mushrooms spends his time now!
* There was a story in the media here about Sydney Girls High Principal Margaret Varady forbidding girls wishing to march in Mardi Gras in school uniform. This report was completely false: I have this on the best authority!
Mainly on media…
I am reading Getting Justice Wrong by Nicholas Cowdery (Sydney, Allen & Unwin 2001). It turns out Mitchell has met him.
I find myself in agreement with much of it. It is a good introduction to the system and the legal process, absolutely essential as a piece of public education. I should say the average person has little grasp of our political and legal system, a failing of past education that may be addressed in the new Civics course. Cowdery makes abundantly clear just how pernicious the impact of blackand-white thinking on the part of tabloid journalism, low IQ TV and talk-back radio can be, especially when politicians find electoral advantage in exploiting the “issues” in a similarly black-and-white manner. The law, on the other hand, must be unspectacular and deliberative, and not too much should be expected from it, except(!) to safeguard us against the excesses of power and keep crime, which will always be with us, under some degree of control. We are all conditioned by TV versions of law (and perhaps by supermen and caped crusaders) to expect simple solutions and drama. The law is not like that.
I find myself siding with him generally on issues such as drugs, mandatory sentencing, and so on. He seems a sane individual to me, such a change from the ranting I hear from Alan Jones, Brian Wilshire and Howard Sattler–just to name a few.
On other matters: the identity of Magic Mushrooms has been revealed: no surprise there!
The Dowager Empress must have great power, since her recent Interdict on the Flinders Hotel, with the added influence of the Crown Prince, has apparently led to that establishment going up for auction. A block of tasteful units seems likely to emerge from the ashes. In future, let all tremble and obey when the Empress speaks. (See back entry “Offending the Empress”.)
Ninglun takes a sickie
For those overseas, a “sickie” is a day off. I did go to the doctor for some routine checks, however; I was feeling rather tired, a combination of work piling up and indiscretion on Friday night: the 21st birthday.
In fact I worked very hard today, especially in the PM, updating all my ESL Files and breaking the back of the Year 7 ones which had been accumulating alarmingly, as Year 7 is over 80% NESB. It is now feasible to have the task finished by Wednesday afternoon.
I have also been in retrospective mode I must say, some of it a touch sad, some quite the opposite. It was five years last week since my mother’s funeral, a significant break with the past that was with a long and painful prelude. Also today would have been my sister’s birthday, and it is amazing (since my memory of her is still fresh) to reflect that she died (aged 11) forty-nine years ago. On the other hand, a few weeks back the Ninglun site turned one, and sometime around now or the next week or two (one year ago) another happening opened up a most pleasant episode in my life. I plan to do something about that one next Thursday 🙂
Having seen a bit of shooting oneself in the foot going on last night at the Albury, I began to wonder! Note to self: light beer in moderation from here on for me for a while. Not that I was roaring drunk by any means: four schooners over the time from 5.00 (when I came up from coaching in Chinatown) until 8ish, and a middy elsewhere with a friend I ran into. But still more than an old person like me should, which is my point. I never drink at home, unless wine with a meal when I have guests. Nor do I use illegal drugs.
Earlier in the day I was in the teller-machine lobby at the ANZ Bank in Chinatown. At the head of the queue was a young Chinese couple. The woman was making a withdrawal and having a furious argument with her boyfriend at the same time–in red-hot Mandarin I think. Next in line was an Anglo-Australian woman of about 40, quite stylishly dressed. After her was a young Chinese girl, then me. The Anglo woman did her transaction. Meantime, to free her hands, the young Chinese girl had put her half-eaten lunch and a drink down on a counter to one side of the machine. As the Anglo woman left, and as the Chinese girl was putting her keycard into the machine, the Anglo woman swept the Chinese girl’s lunch into the garbage! The Chinese girl was stunned! “You think that’s rubbish, do you? You’re so rude!” Actually I suspect the Anglo woman had concluded the Chinese girl intended to leave the stuff there, but it was clear to me that all she had done was put it down to free her hands for the machine. “Weird!” I said. The Anglo woman offered no apology but just stormed out. The Chinese girl was so shaken she told me to use the machine while she recovered.
Meanwhile the female half of the arguing couple had returned to withdraw more money–not looking happy. I, having withdrawn my cash, left.
There was another tragic case of foot-shooting on Saturday night, but not at the Albury. Someone had perhaps misread someone else, issuing a decree that was not as welcome as it might have been. As a result certain conclusions may have been drawn about Ninglun, conclusions that were wildly inaccurate. A chat with a third person resolved much.
Yes, that is as enigmatic as this diary ever gets, but thank God for Chat I say 🙂
Busy day and peaceful night. God bless all who have assignments due on March 30!
A dear friend
This entry is dedicated to John Wilkinson, a very dear friend first of M., than of myself (who made it to one Yum Cha). Ten years of friendship. John passed away last night after a long period of illness. He was one of the sweetest, sanest people you could ever meet. To Max and all his friends, especially Morris, my heart goes out.
John, it was a privilege knowing you. Rest easy now.
Sentimentalist that I am, I had lunch at the Galleria today. The place was much more crowded than it was last week, and the tiny kitchen near the front was a scene of frenetic activity. “Manuel” the gay waiter was on duty again, and slid chummily into the chair opposite mine as he took my order. On the next table a middle-aged lady looked slightly stunned as Manuel smoothly repeated the manoeuvre on the chair opposite her.
Half an hour later my coffee arrived, and her tea.
Forty-five minutes later she said something about this being rather a long time for a sandwich to appear. “I’m just the waiter,” Manuel apologised. Five minutes later her sandwich appeared, and another few minutes later my cheese and tomato on toast.
Now had the company been what it was last time I was there the delay might hardly have been noticed, but this time it was rather noticeable. Fortunately I was in no hurry.
That the Galleria people are really nice became apparent as I took out my wallet at the counter. Yes, I had scored a free lunch, and an apology for the delay. “But… I could see you had a rush.” “Don’t argue,” the English woman who runs the place said; so I didn’t 🙂
Who said there was no such thing as….?