Back in November 2005!

Wow, some things I have practically forgotten! Here are some bits from Floating Life, my blog at the time.

MEMORY !: Endoscopy

28 Nov 2005

I recovered from an anaesthetic just over two hours ago, so I trust today’s posts make sense. I do feel OK, and Lord Malcolm delivered me from Bondi to the Juice and Java Lounge in Surry Hills where I ate my first meal since last night’s excellent steak.

By the way, yesterday’s yum cha again: Sirdan did turn up, but not where we did! So some time in the near future we will make use of Ben’s gift.

The endoscopy went OK: one or two matters — a small hiatus hernia, not surprising, and some gastritis, which may be the result of Friday night’s poisonous chili sauce. He took a biopsy or two as well, but nothing promises to be too evil. 🙂

MEMORY 2: Yesterday

22 Nov 2005

Yesterday I was meant to meet early in the morning with The Poet [RJS, former Principal of SBHS] to talk him through how to use the site I set up for him but the probably final illness of his mother-in-law prevented this happening. He is off to the USA shortly to visit his son as well, then moving to Victoria.

Later we were to have coffee with Phil Day*; I went to that. W, the ex-deputy, was there too. Phil’s farewell dinner is Friday week. He will be having another bout of chemotherapy earlier that week, but insists he will be at the dinner. As I said, positive.

*See also these posts from February 2007: Celebration of an amazing man and There were four eulogies yesterday…


Memory 3: English Teacher moments

19 Nov 2005

English Teacher moments

The link above takes you back to August, when I mentioned Scott Poynting, an ex-student from Wollongong who is now at the University of Western Sydney. Imagine how pleased I was to receive this email the other day.

I had heard from a 1972 classmate about your blog site, but only came across it googling to see whether anyone was mentioning our books (the sort of thing one does when there’s marking to be done). Thank you for the nice things you said about them.

Teaching is far too thankless a pursuit (in comparison to its value). With your extensive networks now, however, you must hear from more ex-students than most. This one wants to thank you for reading aloud to us from ‘The Sound and the Fury’ in 1972, and the love of literature to which that contributed. I went on (after a false start – a floating life, if you like) to study English at UNSW, and studied this novel in first year. I later read all the Faulkner I could get my hands on. Later still, I studied American Literature at Macquarie. Another false start, but a floating I don’t regret.

Thank you, also, for reading to us in 1972 from ‘The Outcasts of Foolgarah’. I later went on to read all the Frank Hardy novels I could get my hands on (and most were better than ‘Outcasts’, though the politics attracted me). By that time I was teaching mathematics – another false start. I read a bit of ‘Outcasts’ to my students last year, in a subject on ‘Social Inequalities’, during a week in which we contrast Woollahra and Bankstown.

Yes, you taught me English. Thank you.

Then after coaching today Ben returned a few books and gave me enough free yum chas to sustain an army; I will be sharing with M, but there is enough in the pot to cover one of the Sunday lunches with Sirdan and Lord Malcolm as well! I also had an email from another coachee, Erwin, who is reading “Paradise Lost”. Indeed, indeed.

MEMORY 4: Deadly Identities – Amin Maalouf

09 Nov 2005 — and just as relevant in November 2017!

This extraordinarily wise book, On Identity (London, Harvill, 2000), is more relevant today than ever.

Sometimes, when I have finished explaining in detail why I fully claim all of my elements, someone comes up to me and whispers in a friendly way: “You were right to say all this, but deep inside of yourself, what do you really feel you are?”

This question made me smile for a long time. Today, it no longer does. It reveals to me a dangerous and common attitude men have. When I am asked who I am “deep inside of myself,” it means there is, deep inside each one of us, one “belonging” that matters, our profound truth, in a way, our “essence” that is determined once and for all at our birth and never changes. As for the rest, all of the rest — the path of a free man, the beliefs he acquires, his preferences, his own sensitivity, his affinities, his life — all these things do not count. And when we push our contemporaries to state their identity, which we do very often these days, we are asking them to search deep inside of themselves for this so-called fundamental belonging, that is often religious, nationalistic, racial or ethnic and to boast it, even to a point of provocation.

Whoever claims a more complex identity becomes marginalized. A young man born in France of Algerian parents is obviously part of two cultures and should be able to assume both. I said both to be clear, but the components of his personality are numerous. The language, the beliefs, the lifestyle, the relation with the family, the artistic and culinary taste, the influences — French, European, Occidental — blend in him with other influences — Arabic, Berber, African, Muslim. This could be an enriching and fertile experience if the young man feels free to live it fully, if he is encouraged to take upon himself his diversity; on the other side, his route can be traumatic if each time he claims he is French, some look at him as a traitor or a renegade, and also if each time he emphasizes his links with Algeria, its history, its culture, he feels a lack of understanding, mistrust or hostility…

…people who belong to different components of society that are violently opposing one another today; people at the border in a way, crossed by lines of ethnic, religious or other fractures. Because of this situation, that I do not dare call “privileged,” these people have a special role to play: building bonds, resolving misunderstandings, reasoning with some, moderating others, smoothing and mending conflicts. Their inherent vocation is to be links, bridges, mediators between different communities and different cultures. This is why their dilemma is full of significance. If these people cannot live their multiple belongings, if they constantly have to choose between one side or the other, if they are ordered to get back to their tribe, we have the right to be worried about the basic way the world functions.

“Have to choose,” “ordered to get back,” I was saying. By whom? Not only by fanatics and xenophobes of all sides, but by you and me, each one of us. Precisely, because these habits of thinking are deeply rooted in all of us, because of this narrow, exclusive, bigoted, simplified conception that reduces the whole identity to a single belonging declared with rage.

I feel like screaming aloud: This is how you “manufacture” slaughterers! I admit it is an abrupt affirmation but I will be explaining it in this book.

The tragedy of fools — and he is a fool — like Abdul Nacer Benbrika and the fools who regard such a person as anything other than a deranged bigot, is this total inability, it would appear, to live with “multiple belongings.” But let us not feel too superior: as Maalouf says, “…these habits of thinking are deeply rooted in all of us, because of this narrow, exclusive, bigoted, simplified conception that reduces the whole identity to a single belonging declared with rage.” The Sydney Daily Telegraph does just this too in its own way, sacrificing our own guarantee of some sort of just system in the process: these people have been arrested and charged, and that is the end of the story for the time being. We really should not comment on what they may or may not have been up to until it is tested in the proper forum, which is not the Daily Telegraph, talk-back radio, or this or any other blog.

At the same time, any of us belonging to one of the three major religions that believe, or once believed, that God has been in the habit of leaving infallible bits of writing lying around for fallible humans to screw up on, think again. Realise how dangerous this ahistorical, uncritical delusion about pure texts actually has been and still is.

NOTE: Now you can read chunks of Amin Maalouf — enough to get his drift — on Google Books: In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong.



Select things I saw five years ago

Taken from my photoblog Monthly Archives: June 2012.

Back in West Wollongong — 3


Yesterday: revisiting South Sydney — 1



Redfern Oval – home of the Bunnies.

School excursion

At the Old Catholic Cemetery, Wollongong.





Kids! Looks as if music was involved.

Now that I am retired…Smile

Wollongong Harbour (Belmore Basin) – June 17 — 4



And as April ends some final stats and farewell

This blog: 67,459 views.

Top Posts here for all days ending 2017-04-30

Home page / Archives 37,532 views
Anzac Girls last night on ABC 927
Outnumbered, Merlin, and other recently seen TV  715
Tom Thumb Lagoon 535
Restoration Australia: Keera Vale 351
Ziggy’s House of Nomms 337
Family history–some news on the Whitfield front 336
Lost Wollongong 335
What a treasury of family history! 293
My former workplace in the news today 292
Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames” 257
Random Friday memory: 1 – John Mystery, my brother, Illawong 243
The swimmer 242
The silence of the trams 220

Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

Top Posts for all days ending 2017-04-30

Home page / Archives 67,043 views
Friday Australian poem #17: Bruce Dawe, “Homecoming” 23,422
Two Australian poems of World War II  18,355
Assimilation, Integration, Multiculturalism: policy and practice in Australia since 1966 1  15,965
Teacher Pride Rules!  13,301
John Howard: bullying expert extraordinaire…  7,981
Friday Australian poem #3: A D Hope, “The Death of a Bird”  7,580
Friday Australian poem #12: David Campbell “Men in Green” 7,362
Friday Australian poem # 6: Mary Gilmore, “Nationality” and “Old Botany Bay” 7,018
Friday Australian poem #4: Judith Wright 5,070
Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in Macbeth and segue into Mardi Gras  4,983
Friday Australian poem #16: Banjo Paterson “Fur and Feathers”  4,941

Floating Life

Top Posts for all days ending 2017-04-30

Home page / Archives 65,597 views
How good is your English? Test and Answers  15,813
Australian poem: 2008 series #9 — A B Paterson “The Angel’s Kiss”  11,639
Australian poem 2008 series #17: “Australia” — A D Hope 7,932
Australian poem: 2008 series #8 — Indigenous poetry 6,685
The Great Surry Hills Book Clearance of 2005 5,643
Australian poem 2008 series #10: Peter Skrzynecki “Summer in the Country” (2005)  4,893
Conflicting perspectives  4,241
Dispatches from another America  4,188
Sarah Palin — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress  3,609
Delia Malchert – Migraine Aura – Scintillating Scotoma 3,241
The Real Da Vinci Code – Leonardo da Vinci 3,068
Cronulla 05  2,993

Neil’s final/second decade

Top Posts for all days ending 2017-04-30

Home page / Archives 61,494 views
A very personal Australia Day 26 January – my family  3,833
Being Australian 16: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 9 – my tribes 3,610
This may well be the best Australian history book I have EVER read! 3,304
Nostalgia and the globalising world — from Thomas Hardy to 2010 3,298
The Rainbow Warrior 2,598
Oldest house in Wollongong?  2,597
Wollongong local history 2,325
Jack Vidgen–Australia’s Got Talent last night  2,287
Sniffing out the swamp then looking up…. 1,969
Thanks, Tilly and Kate!  1,927
Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Grand Final  1,797

English, ESL — and more!

Top Posts for all days ending 2017-04-30: a rather amazing record!

How should I write up a Science experiment?  193,755 views
Home page / Archives  112,651
Essay writing: Module C “Conflicting Perspectives” – the introduction  56,345
A student’s “Belonging Essay” workshopped  49,805
What tense should I use when I write about literature?  40,885
Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems  38,601
Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein” — and “Blade Runner” 25,283
Studying the Gothic, or Emily Bronte?  24,107
The “Belonging” Essay 23,877
Is “majority” singular or plural?  19,275
Workshop 02 — NSW HSC: Area Study: Imaginative Journeys  18,529
Belonging pages: HSC 2009-2012 18,172
Scaffolding  15,160
Workshop 03 — Creative Writing (Year 12)  14,139

Neil’s Wollongong & Sydney

Top Posts for all days ending 2017-04-30

Home page / Archives 29,514 views
Small Buddhist temple 757
Volcanic eruption in Australia ‘3000 years overdue’! 488
Old haunt derelict now  481
Shellharbour 2 – Beverley Whitfield Pool Shellharbour 2 – Beverley Whitfield Pool 455
Surry Hills: new community centre and library nearing completion  431
2009 Mardi Gras Fair Day 4 – Mad Hatter’s Tea Party  404
Autumn sun Haymarket  372
Lunch at The Hellenic Club, Figtree 356
The amazing Surry Hills Library 1 346
Wollongong Mall 345
Paddy’s Market to Ultimo 2 – the markets 326
Corner of Goulburn and George Streets, Sydney 298
Loving Surry Hills 24: mosque 285
Aunty Beryl and the Yaama Dhiyaan Hospitality Training College Darlington 284

Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole

Top Posts for all days ending 2017-04-30

Home page / Archives More stats 25,044 views
Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days 8,965
10. But is it art? Responses to the Bill Henson controversy of 2008 7,717
Sequel: Art Monthly Australia July 2008  4,814
Top poems 2: John Donne (1572-1631): Satire III — “Of Religion”  4,015
Family stories 4 — A Guringai Family Story — Warren Whitfield  3,891
05 — Old Blog Entries: 99-04  3,636 Look here for my earliest posts
Family stories 1 — mother  3,422
Surry Hills 3,108
Gustave Dore’s “Ancient Mariner” illustrations  1,979
Chinatown 13: Chinese Gardens Darling Harbour 8  1,823
Family stories 2 — About the Christisons 1,484
More tales from my mother 4 — Dunolly NSW — and conclusions  1,472
07 — a controversy — For the record: the great SBHS race debate of 2002  1,468

OK! Do explore those.

Does this mean this blog is coming to an end? Yes, after 17 years it does. There may be an occasional entry and I will continue to monitor comments. Meanwhile, see me on Facebook.

May 1:

I am considering bringing together in a more ordered way my various and scattered family history and memory posts, either here or on a fresh purpose-built blog.

And here is the solution:

Watch this space!