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 — 11 — well, not exactly…

I will get back to the Olympics in time. Great things in swimming for Oz so far.

But about yesterday. There are those who point out, quite rightly, that the mob in Sydney on Saturday was a tiny fraction of the people of Sydney, a few thousand out of FIVE MILLION!

True. And as The Illawarra Mercury said:

At the weekend there were 102,233 heroes.

This was the number of people who turned up for COVID-19 testing on Saturday.

These are the people we should be putting on a pedestal, not the clowns who took it upon themselves to break public health orders on Saturday.

Look back at the previous post though — I stand by what I posted. I would also draw attention to Tikno’s thoughtful comments. Tikno lives in Kalimantan in Indonesia. In comparison, we don’t have much to moan about, eh!

From Indonesia, just looking at recent news stories I encountered an image that will stay with you.

Workers wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) take a break while burying the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victims in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 23, 2021. Reuters

Here in Wollongong there is thank God nothing to compare with that, as in comparison all we have to complain about is inconvenience, never forgetting that the stakes in reality are those we see in that image!

So to my own immediate issue:

That is of course the Illawarra Leagues Club, my principal club these days, and really the centre of my social life as well as of good cheap meals and free internet! I am after all just a 78-year-old pensioner living alone in lockdown in Wollongong, so I am affected. However, there is still little to moan about. My groceries now are, in the main, ordered online and delivered, contact-free and covid safe. I have thanks to that social security system we must fiercely strive to maintain — watch out for the white ants on that one, you know who they are! — I have enough. My rent and food are well and truly covered, and I am far from alone in that.

But I do miss the club.

Today I am about to live dangerously and catch a bus to Wollongong, as I have to get a prescription filled at the chemist, There and back, masked up of course. I may indeed have the bus all to myself! It happened more than once in the lockdown last year.

Meanwhile, enjoy 1) some fun on the lockdown theme.

2) Beautiful music from a rather beautiful pianist! A recent discovery for me.

Sydney’s shame

Our shame has been broadcast around the world. Here from France is just one instance. Quite a balanced report, actually.

Yes, I can understand there is a diversity of views — which in a democracy of course can be expressed but preferably in measured and responsible ways — and there are those being hurt or at the least inconvenienced by the current lockdown in our part of the world, escape from which has just been made LESS likely by the actions of yesterday’s unlovely, angry and undisciplined mob.

But possibly not unorganised.

There is a world-wide movement out there, and here is one of their posts: Freedom March London: LIVE. Look at the fools behind it! The Great Alien Lizard Dude being one name that struck me immediately, described in the post as a “champion of freedom” no less! What utter hogwash! Champion of insanity more like.

Our South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris has it right when he says on Facebook: They are liberating themselves from their … brains.

On Twitter our increasingly attractive alternative Prime Minister, Anthony Alabanese, posted:

The irresponsible and shocking actions of those who engaged in acts of violence today against police officers doing their job have no place in society and should face the full force of the law – our police deserve respect and have taken risks to keep us safe during COVID-19.

Poet Beth Spencer shared a very apt comment, adding: “So sorry, Sydney. So sorry Australia.”

Among my replies I said: How many on the streets of Sydney today thought of this?

“Doctors were immediately concerned as Logan’s organs started to fail, his skin blistered and he developed heart murmurs…” I was referring to this item: Mother’s warning after dangerous COVID side-effect.

I also said:

Here is one of the geniuses at the Sydney lockdown “protest” — that is, the self-destructive mass hysterical self-centred hissy fit. There are not enough synonyms for “drongo” in Roget to adequately describe them.I fully support concrete and real help — Bill Crews for example — for those personally and economically suffering. But unlike these protesters I am not in favour of increasing infection, pain and death as the solution. I am a pensioner living alone in lockdown. The protesters in my book are selfish scum.

Thanks to Van Badham for the meme.

Crazy, mad as a cut snake, certifiable! On the other hand a highly respectable journalist, Channel 10’s Hugh Riminton, noted: A lot of people have been dismissing the #sydneyprotest mob as unwashed, toothless losers. More disturbingly, they looked like anyone you’d see on a train. Which is not to defend the lunacy.

He has a point, and that IS disturbing.

Behind such people are the loudmouths, the motormouths, the People’s Tribunes, the Alan Jones’s of Sky IS The Dark: if you want to know about Alan Jones, view this. When he is not endorsing — often with a clever and mealy-mouthed get out of jail free card to save his arse though — the Great Election Fraud view of Donald Trump, or having the pathetic pollie Craig Kelly on his show as an expert opinion, then he is in the business of white-anting not only obvious targets like Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews but also embattled NSW Premier Gladys Berejilkian. Here he is on that one: Berejiklian ‘should resign’ if she thinks the virus can be eliminated: Alan Jones.

So thanks to a variety of loons, has-beens, alt-right dingbats and comparatively innocent fellow-travellers who may be reacting to genuine difficulties, the mob has disgraced and shamed us in the eyes of the world by organising the greatest super-spreader event imaginable! There must be a lot of very happy Delta Variants out there this morning! Except of course viruses don’t give a shit about politics, religion, freedom or whatever. They are mindless little machines intent on one thing only — spreading and replicating.

Anticipating a predictable retort to such an idea, Hugh Riminton has also tweeted: For comparison, here was the mask wearing during last year’s Sydney #BLM March.

Just to lighten up a tad! I rather like this, which comes from England — which is undergoing an interesting if very probably tragic experiment in political sleight-of-hand at the moment.

Updates — already noted on Facebook

  1. Possibly Australia’s most egregious boofhead, mate of Alan Jones, who regularly infests Sky Is In the Dark, the soon to be former Member for Hughes, that furniture salesman extraordinaire, shows his true colours by rooting for chaos in these ill-conceived “freedom” (aka irresponsibility) rallies.Shame on him! No, let me be old-fashioned — a pox on him! Here is a sample of the sh*t Kelly has posted, annotated by the good people of Hughes, his long-suffering electorate. Vote the bastard out!

2. The Illawarra Mercury reports that “up to” 250 protesters took to the streets of Wollongong. The population of Wollongong is 307,000 plus. I call that a success!

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 10 — think about the Olympics 1

So I start with something completely irrelevant, as this being my blog I can do what I like!

Just released on YouTube and 13,000+ views already!

Well, amidst much angst and uncertainty, and with an unprecedented backdrop of COVID-19, the Games Have Begun!

Today let’s back-track.

2012: Watching the Olympics in Wollongong Mall

P7300527
P7300528
Not exactly crowded…

Of course I have family links to the Games, which I am proud of — have held Olympic gold medals in my own hands!

I used to enjoy telling people I coached Beverley — and I did, in Year 10 English! The Wikipedia article there is very good, clearly written by someone who knew her well.

Beverley Joy Whitfield (June 15, 1954 – August 20, 1996 in Shellharbour, New South Wales) was an Australian breaststroke swimmer of the 1970s, who won a gold medal in the 200 m breaststroke at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. She was coached by Terry Gathercole and Don Talbot.

The daughter of a fitter and turner who worked in the Wollongong steelworks for more than 35 years, Whitfield was taught to swim along with her sister and their cousins at the age four by her maternal uncle, who was active in the local Learn to Swim program. Along with her sister and cousins, she was a childhood member of the Shellharbour Swimming Club, and was mainly taken to local swimming competitions by her father and uncle. This became even more pronounced following the death of her mother from cancer…

Her father Max was my cousin, so she was my second cousin then. Sadly she died suddenly of a heart condition in 1996.

Marge, Beverley, Max, Margaret in the early 1960s.
Salt spray and sun have faded this a bit.
The ocean pool, Shellharbour.

And then there was the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, by which time I had a recently established blog — or “diary” as I called it at the time.

Saturday, September 16

GO THORPIE!!!! Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi OI!!!!! That 4X100 relay was sheer magic.

More on the Opening Ceremony–yes that torch thing did get stuck apparently! However, wasn’t that “underwater” lighting spectacular! And the waterfall! Yes–they did lay the politics of reconciliation on a bit thick, but it needs to be addressed and the Olympics was a powerful symbolic time: so too for the two Koreas and East Timor–moving moments both. However, I think the image of the girl and the songman remains the most powerful image for me.

I was tutoring in Chinatown today. One student, an 18-year-old from Mainland China, came in clutching tickets to the Olympic Table Tennis where his team will undoubtedly do well! He too admired the message of reconciliation in the Opening Ceremony, and was touched not only by that and the two Koreas being united, but also felt the fact China and Taiwan could play together in the Olympics sent a good message to the world and to the people and the politicians.

And my site passed the 2000 today! A minor matter but pleasing. In August this diary averaged seven hits a day; this month to date it has passed the total for August, averaging seventeen hits a day! Mind you that other site I declared “war” on a week ago has averaged twenty-four hits a day so far this month, so don’t get complacent my friends!

I see Brisbane has won the 2032 games — but who here will forget the bid that eventually ended with “The winner is SIDDENY!” No, not a typo — those in the know will know!

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:

G1-2

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.