Coming up to seven years since I smoked!

 March 2011 revisited — 1

Here’s how it began for me:

And that dominated this blog for the next couple of weeks, though by 9 March I was back home.

Of course that should be 2011…

Meanwhile. and not unrelated:

  • 30 days, 17 hours, 34 minutes and 24 seconds smoke free.
  • 1537 cigarettes not smoked.
  • $992.00 and 11 days, 17 hours of your life saved.
  • Your quit date: 2/28/2011 2:00:00 PM

The quit date is the approximate time the ambulance arrived…

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NOTE: The Quitnet calculator is no longer with us, but as a guess, seven years 2011-2018 would roughly be 130,000 cigarettes not smoked!!!! That’s over $12,000 a year times seven! $84,000!!!!

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What a day this was: 13 February 2008

Of course much might be said about just how well/badly we have done since.

13 February 2008: just back from The Block in Redfern

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Redfern Community Centre, The Block, 2007. Image from Redfern Oral History. Click for more.

At least 1,000 people stood in the pouring rain at Redfern’s famous Block and watched on the big screen as Kevin Rudd moved the motion of Apology. I would not have missed it for quids!

Next to me an Aboriginal woman in her thirties or forties, her tears blending with the rain.

Cheers and a standing ovation greeted Kevin Rudd’s speech.

cafe-cana.gifWe didn’t get to hear the middle section of Dr Nelson’s speech as at that point the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was speaking to us live.

However, the symbolism near the end of Rudd and Nelson jointly presenting to the Speaker the gift from the Stolen Generations spoke to all our hearts.

Golden syrup and damper afterwards, and then a coffee for me on the way home at Cafe Cana.

William Yang was there at the Community Centre, and some people from church.

Big smiles from some little Aboriginal kids as I crossed Pitt Street and Redfern Street: “Look! He’s got a flag!”

A day truly to be treasured, long long anticipated and for a period the dread that it would never happen. But it has happened.

No more analysis today, no more commentary. The day is too good for that.

See Cheers, tears as Rudd says ‘sorry’.

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UPDATES

See:

Speech gets standing ovation in Redfern

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s speech received a standing ovation at the Redfern Community Centre, where hundreds gathered. Residents, workers, families, students and Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore braved the rain to watch the speech via a large outdoor screen set up in the heart of the notorious Block, the setting of the 2003 Redfern riots.

After the speech a teary Ms Moore stood and addressed the crowd. “Parliament House in Canberra is a long way from the streets of Redfern, but the apology made this morning must resonate here in our hearts and minds,” she said.

David Page, 46, composer with the indigenous dance group Bangarra Dance Theatre, said he liked the fact that Mr Rudd made a personal apology.

“It was very moving to see a prime minister with a bit of heart. I loved it when he said he was sorry. There was just something personal about it. It’s very hard for a prime minister to be personal,” he said. “It’s a long road but it’s a great beginning.”

Enid Williams, 72, who was brought up on a mission in Warrabinda in north Queensland after her father was forcibly removed from his family, said she was happy with Mr Rudd’s speech, but said it was now important to look to the future.

“We’ve been put down so many times,” she said. “I’m 72. The main thing is the young people, to give them a better future.”

The reception was not so warm for the speech delivered by Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, and the crowd booed at file footage of former prime minister John Howard that was broadcast before the apology.

Michael Kirby, 36, a resident of Waterloo who grew up in rural NSW and whose father had been removed from Swan Hill to be raised at the Kitchener Boys Home, said he was pleased with the turnout at the community centre.

“I was so proud to be walking down here today with non-indigenous Australians,” he said. “Now we have to move together to try and build Australia bigger and better as a whole.”

An entire day of activities has been planned at the community centre, including an afternoon smoking ceremony, repetitions of the speech and a barbecue.

Melanie Giuffre of Surry Hills said she and her husband, Remo, brought their children Lola, 13 and Roman, 9, to Redfern to mark a historic national event. “Roman was doing something at school but we thought it was important to be here as a family,” she said. “[The speech] was really wonderful. It felt we’ve seen the Prime Minister we voted for.”

Sydney Morning Herald multimedia report.

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Ivan Clarke, one of the stolen generations, is comforted by a friend after watching the apology by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a large screen in Redfern.
Photo: Jon Reid Sydney Morning Herald.

And SIXTY years ago I….

How’s that for old?

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From Sydney Boys High School. See Found–something from my last year at high school (1959) and Memento mori – another from the Class of 1959.

My History score crashed the following year, thanks to a bad habit of guessing what would be in exam papers… Worked in 58, not in 59. The teacher, Frank Allsopp, used me as an awful warning for several years into the 60s – by which time my History score so recovered at Sydney University that in 1962 I topped Asian History, then an exciting new field. I think I recently saw a death notice for one of the two lecturers in Asian History at that time, Marjorie Jacobs. India was her specialty. The other lecturer was Ian Nish, expert on Japan and China. It was a very good course. See also My Asian Century.

See also 50 years on – 1: a classmate’s story (2009). And in reminiscent vein: 1959 revisited, Trams down Cleveland Street via Memory Lane, The year my voice broke…, 1957 or MCMLVII and Nobel prize winner’s obituary triggers memories.

Lenny Basser, left, and my good friend Roger Dye far right.

1958 when we were 15 – Roger and I, that is.

I was living in Kirrawee in 1958.

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Avery Avenue, Kirrawee, where I lived 1956 through 1958, behind the tree on the left. And yes, we were close to transport. That’s the Cronulla line on the right. It took about an hour and a quarter to get to SBHS from here.

Sundays found me at Sutherland Presbyterian Church, Flora Street Sutherland, where I had recently joined the youth Fellowship.

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See Frameworks for belief — 2 – my world 1952 to 1959. A repost and À la recherche du temps perdu — 12 — some churches.

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Sutherland Presbyterian Church and manse. I was an elder here  at the age of 21, and Sunday School Superintendent. In the mid 1960s exciting events occurred in this church, the congregation mostly leaving to form the Presbyterian Reformed Church. At that time I resigned. See my 2008 post Uncertain dogma, The Shire, and related musings. See also this search for Calvin.

 

Looking back 20 years: the Japanese surfer

Back in 1998 I became a student again, part-time, at the University of Technology in Sydney.  A one-year course gave me lots of letters after my name: Grad Cert TESOL (UTS)! While I had been among other things ESL teacher at Sydney Boys High from 1996, I actually had no formal qualification in that field, other than the in-house training — and it was good too! — that I received at Wessex College of English in 1990.

One thing I haven’t mentioned publicly before is that Michael was so pissed off at my attracting a HECS debt that he insisted on paying the fees for me upfront — neither the first nor the last example of his generosity. He’s travelling in Vietnam right now, by the way, but you may recall we had lunch together in Surry Hills on just about the hottest day on record for Sydney.

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One highlight (of many) in that 1998 UTS course was a learning journal: My year with a Japanese Backpacker. You can read the whole thing there. Here is part:

19 August, 1998

I first met ‘Hiro’ a month ago at the Flinders Hotel. He had just finished an eight week English course and had to move out of his home-stay accommodation the following Saturday, or so I gathered after a very tortuous conversation. A few days later he rang to let me know he had found a place in an Eastern suburb near the Harbour. I did not hear from him again until the night before last when he rang to arrange a meeting. After sorting out that Neil was my name and not the name of the hotel, we managed to make an appointment for Tuesday at 6 at the Flinders Hotel. Our communication obviously succeeded as he turned up at the appointed time.

His English pronunciation is clear. The text of his talk is heavily reliant on content words (in the right order) but very weak on inflections and grammatical words. His strategic competence is highly developed. Conversation required intense concentration on both sides with (at stages) frequent recourse to body language, paraphrase, repetition and a Japanese-English dictionary. The month spent living with an English speaker, looking for work, and generally going about town has led to some advance in his spoken English.

He had mentioned at our earlier meeting that he would like to practise his English with me. Since he is a very handsome young man, and since I had met him in a gay bar after all, there were dimensions to this situation. I determined to explore the situation tactfully, but I have not seen any analysis of the appropriate registers and genres for dealing with such a cross-cultural situation with someone of very limited English.

His family grows flowers, he told me, and he himself wanted work in photography, art or floristry. In the context of Australian culture one might by now have been drawing probably false conclusions about his being in a gay bar. (It proved to be a false deduction: he was unaware he was in a gay bar. The delicate matter of sexuality was successfully negotiated at our second meeting.)

From the age of six he had wanted to go overseas; an uncle had been living in America at that time, and it was to America he first wanted to go, but the pictures in an Australian travel brochure persuaded him to come here. He was drawn by Australia’s natural beauty and the surfing. So he sold his car (a Subaru) and came last May.

He said he wanted to experience all things. He wanted to meet Australian men. He wanted to learn English. Most interestingly, he wanted ‘a big heart’; eventually I worked out he meant an open mind–he found Japan too narrow.

Our conversation turned to religion. Having heard a sermon at a funeral he began practising Zen meditation. Asked what he got from it, he said ‘Nothing. Nothing is good.’ In the context this made perfect sense. We looked up dharma and Tao in his dictionary and discussed them wordlessly, as is appropriate.

At the end of the evening he proposed we meet again in a month or so, hesitant to be too demanding as I had been telling him how busy I was. In parting, we thanked each other for a very pleasant evening, and the best English lesson he could have had.

His real name was Kyohiko, from Sendai, a place much affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Yes, I have wondered, but I don’t know.

Sequel: 23 March 2000

“Hiro” returned to Japan at the end of May 1999. In the last six months of our friendship we met monthly to go to a jazz bar near my home. My Shanghainese flatmate was a bit dubious about “Hiro” at first, but towards the end, as he was planning his own 12 months overseas “pilgrimage”, he and “Hiro” found they had a lot in common! The other nice thing about “Hiro” was that, while straight, he did not have a homophobic bone in his body! Makes you feel hopeful about the world

2018! Can you believe it?

They have just released the 1994-5 Cabinet Documents. Now you can tell you are old when they sound like news from about ten minutes ago!

Just ten years ago seems more like seconds back. Fortunately I have my blog as a substitute for memory! I had completely forgotten this:

When you’re over 60 and, well, you know, this makes a change…

23 Jan 2008

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… women throwing themselves at you, I mean. Take Ekaterina for example:

Hello Dear!

How are you? I hope that all good for you and you will read my letter with a interest. Ok. I got your e-mail through internet dating agency. I gave my letter to agency and they have told that my letter will be send to man in Australia!!!! I want to arrive to Australia and I have good chance for this. I need only man who can meet me in Australia and probably we can to develop our relations. Ok. My name is Ekaterina. I’m from Yoshkar-Ola, Russia.

My measurements: 32B – 24 – 34, Height: 5 ‘ 2 “, Weight: 115 lbs
Hair: Fair-haired
Eyes: Black
Star Sign: Scorpion

I’m 27 years old. But very soon will be 28 years old. My birthday on October, 29, 1980. I am ready for creation family and want it very much. I cannot find the man in Russia for myself because it very hard in Russia. I want to create family and to live in your country because the government to care about people. I want to live and be sure in the future. In Russia it is not possible to live easy. I want to tell about myself a little. I live in city Yoshkar-Ola. My city is very beautiful. I work as the seller in shop home appliances. I’m cheerful woman who like to go for sports and do all what like are usual peoples.

My history: I’m with my girlfriend were going to go in your country as tourists for search of men for serious relations. But my girlfriend could not go with me. She had problems with your family. But very soon I will receive visa and I do not want to lose a chance to arrive in your country. I will receive visa in 7 days for your country. Now I waiting for reception of my visa.

It will be great if you can meet me and we can to have relations with you. I’m understand that it very strange, but probably it’s desteny for you and me. I understand that you will ask me ” Where did you get my e-mail? ” I’m right??? I got your e-mail through internet dating agency in my city. I gave them my letter and they told me that they will send my letter. And I will be very happy if YOU will answer to me. I will be very happy if you will write me and we will have our meeting very soon. And it is possible we a meeting in 7 days because I can arrive to you.

Please tell to me about yourself a little!
What is your full name?
Your age?
City?

I hope that you will answer to me back… If so I will send my photo to you. I will wait your answer so much… Write to me on e-mail…

I’m leaving the email out because this is between Ekaterina and myself, you know…

What do you mean she wrote to you too? You mean she could be a floozy, to use a very old and politically incorrect word? Never. She chose ME out of all the men in the world… Didn’t she?

I have to admit it all came as a surprise as the only things resembling an internet dating agency that I have ever joined are Facebook, gay.com (non-paying) and Kagoul, though my membership of the last has no doubt elapsed.

I note too that M was on his great South American tour in January 2008. (He heads for S-E Asia in a month’s time.)

M back from Antarctica

15 Jan 2008

He found it a very special place.

He returns to Australia at the end of this month.

Finally from 2008:

My archaeology

09 Jan 2008

That, rather than a clean-up, is what is happening. 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”! 😉

  • The famous card from the Class of 1986 at SBHS

“The Britannia Rules OK!”  “Best wishes for the future school — I hope you get as good a class as us! — Ben” “Oh for a draft of Vintage — Now you’ve got one! — Chris Jones” “Thanks for some of the funniest English periods we have ever had! — Sincerely, Martyn, Dean & Sam” “Thanks a lot for putting a bit of fun back into school. — Peter Schulze” “Dittoes — Geoff” “Don’t get pregnant!” “Somehow you even made Larkin seem exciting! Good luck for the future. — Craig” “I hope you die! Yours sincerely, Philip Larkin.” “Keep away from Colin the bartender (barmaid?) — Craig Bartlett” “Cribs Rule — The Phantom” “Good luck — Craig McLean (the quiet one)” “Like wow — wipeout. Danke Schon — Tim Knight”

… and a few others. For context, see here, here and here.

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SBHS Second VIII 1986 — one of the signatories is here, Dean (No 6 from the bow) and also nearer the bow someone Marcel knows…

In 2017 this blog had 14,617 visits, slightly down on last year. The top ten individual posts were:

Friday Australian poem: #NS6 – Mary Gilmore “Old Botany Bay” 275 views in 2017
My 1947: Shellharbour 185
Restoration Australia: Keera Vale 160
Taste of Xi’an Wollongong 146
Tom Thumb Lagoon 135
Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames” 122
Random Friday memory: 1 – John Mystery, my brother, Illawong 96
Body language, cross-cultural communication, Trump etc… 95
Nobel prize winner’s obituary triggers memories 85
What a treasury of family history! 79