Food and TV

And why not?

P3150410

P3150410a

P3150411

This hotpot really was hot! See the steam in the centre pic? Yes, lunch yesterday at Steelers.

And on Sunday on NITV 34 at 9.30 the movie is Vincent  Ward’s  Map of the Human Heart (1993).

The film, set mostly before and during World War II, centres on the life of a Canadian Inuit boy, Avik (played as a child by Robert Joamie and as an adult by Jason Scott Lee), who joins the Royal Canadian Air Force and eventually, as a crewmember of a Lancaster bomber, participates in the notorious firebombing of Dresden. Throughout his life, Avik is haunted by love for a Métis girl, Albertine (played by Anne Parillaud), and by a belief that he brings misfortune to those around him.

The film also stars Patrick Bergin, who plays a pivotal role as both surrogate father to Avik and his primary rival in Albertine’s love. Jeanne Moreau has a minor role as a Québécois nun. John Cusack also has a small but important role as the mapmaker to whom Avik relates his incredible tale.

The film’s re-creation of the firebombing of Dresden is one of the most graphic and powerful sequences in the film. On the day Ward finished shooting those scenes, he received word that his father, who had actually participated in the historical firebombing of Dresden, had died. This is why Ward chose to dedicate the film to him.

There are two other scenes in the movie which received much attention. The first one is a pivotal love scene that takes place on top of an English military blimp (not in a cabin or gondola but actually on top of the blimp), the other is the final scene of the film which has a twist ending.

The scenes in “Nunatuk”, the region of Northern Canada where Avik’s people are from, were filmed on location in what is now Nunavut, using local Inuit as extras.

The script was written by Australian author Louis Nowra, using a 10-page treatment Ward had written a year earlier as his guide.

Wikipedia

What a cultural mix! I haven’t seen it but am looking forward to it.

Last night on ABC a very good episode of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, set in Ballarat in 1959. Only jarring note is that no-one smokes. 1959 and no-one smokes? See also 1959 revisited.

And on Thursday on ABC2 I caught up at last with Please Like Me. Love it!

Advertisements

1957 or MCMLVII

C. IULI CAESARIS DE BELLO GALLICO COMMENTARIUS SECUNDUS

CUM esset Caesar in citeriore Gallia [in hibernis], ita uti supra demonstravimus, crebri ad eum rumores adferebantur litterisque item Labieni certior fiebat omnes Belgas, quam tertiam esse Galliae partem dixeramus, contra populum Romanum coniurare obsidesque inter se dare.

“When Caesar was in Hither Gaul [in winter quarters], as we have shown above, numerous rumours were brought to him, and letters also…”  Then something about Belgians…? Yes, I have the eBook now!

BOOK II

I.—While Caesar was in winter quarters in Hither Gaul, as we have shown above, frequent reports were brought to him, and he was also informed by letters from Labienus, that all the Belgae, who we have said are a third part of Gaul, were entering into a confederacy against the Roman people, and giving hostages to one another…

In 1957 I sat here and read that.

sbhs541

Edgar Bembrick was the legendary Latin teacher of us mob in 3B. I was 14. He, I suspected, personally knew Julius Caesar, in fact probably taught him. In fact it appears he was born in 1890. In 2007 I wrote, referring to 1959:

Edgar Bembrick, my Latin teacher in my last year in high school — his last year too as he died before that year was over — was in some ways as boring a person as you could hope to meet, and with a face remarkably like a prune. However, there was a twinkle in the eye and an awesome reputation in his subject area: “Don’t use that crib, son; I wrote it.” He would also come into the lesson without a text book and tell us what page to turn to and would then proceed to his exposition without recourse to anything other than his memory. He once claimed to be able to complete any line of Latin or Greek verse we could throw at him. We never caught him out. 

The French teacher was truly ancient, speaking a strange kind of French he apparently honed among the poppy fields of Picardy. He was quite awful, actually, so I will pass over his name.

Now English with Mr Harrison was a delight.

Fifty years ago my English teacher was a Mr Harrison. He could claim just enough eccentricity, often a quality in an inspiring teacher, as he was famous for weaving and making his own suits. What he was especially good at was reading aloud. I still remember his reading of The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico as particularly magic. In my own teaching career there have been times, I like to think, when inspired by Mr Harrison’s memory I too have held a class captive by reading something or other. This has been especially valuable with classes who are not all that good at reading. I can remember doing things like serialising novels: Robbery Under Arms and Kidnapped come to mind, not to mention a Macbeth where I took all the parts for a scene or two, and it was only when in a Wollongong HSC class I began to read parts of Patrick White’s The Tree of Man aloud that I saw for myself how good it in fact is! I would urge all English teachers to develop this old-fashioned skill.

In senior years my teacher was Mr Smith, or “Rockjaw”. Younger than Mr Harrison, and of the belief that Rugby Union is “poetry in motion”, he did manage to stimulate much interest in the texts we had to study even if his dramatic skills were not as good as Mr Harrison’s. He did give us a good grounding, for those times, in critical reading; he rubbished me at one time for suggesting that film might be worth studying! Called me “Wordy Whitfield” too on occasion. I wonder why?

1943shs

1943 Sydney Boys High staff. The year I was born.

Those still around in my time there are in bold.

Back row: T B Ingram, O A Taylor, E G Evans, K J Andrews, W B Rowlands, H J Brayden, C H BLack, E Bembrick, H Edmonds, B T Dunlop, W E Gollan, J E Hagam, A H Webster
Second row: J R Towns, W E Cummings, T L Pearce, T A Pearson, H C Allen, R W Hundt, J Dabron, M R Callaghan, L C Kemp, W J Acason, LA Swan
Front Row: L A Basser, A H Pelham, N R White, Miss E Cochrane, P W Hallett (Deputy Headmaster), J H Killip (Headmaster), Miss M Smith; D R Blakemore, W H Edmunds, E P Patterson, J S Rae
Absent: A F O’Rourke

And there were us kids, of course. For some reason I especially remember in that room F, who sat in the back row most often, from time to time with his dick out, as I recall. Those desks could conceal a lot, and F had a fair bit to conceal.

1957

Public transport 1957

jbpsmoorepark25feb58

Anzac Parade, school kids waiting.

L19923

North Sydney Pool, where we had our school swimming carnivals.

avery

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.

Frameworks for belief– 3 – 1959 through to 1966–part 1

I mentioned the 1952 death of my sister in the last of these posts.

jeanetteme1

My sister and I in the late 1940s

There is no doubt this had a profound effect on my view of life and the world and inclined me towards a religious path, though I did not really take it up until around seven years after her death. Among her last words were “Don’t worry, Jesus is with me.” How can one not be affected? Even sixty-one years later I remember with amazing vividness the events of the days when she was taken from Auburn Street Sutherland to St George Hospital, never to join us at Vermont Street to which we are moving at the time. My poor parents! A year later I was in the same hospital being operated on for the same condition that had ultimately killed her. It was around that time I dreamed of Death standing by my bed.

When I finally did go to Sutherland Presbyterian Church, however, even though the minister (Cam Williamson) had been visiting Mum from time to time, it was rather at the invitation of Ross McKay, a Sutherland Primary then Sydney High classmate – and girls were among the attractions.  So I joined the Presbyterian Fellowship Association around 1957 or 1958, and around the same time began attending the Inter School Christian Fellowship at Sydney High and reading the Bible via Scripture Union notes obtained there. I had a daggy copy of the Revised Version, a pocket edition that had been Grandpa Christison’s, and I remember being quite sneaky about reading it in bed late at night. My father caught me once and I reacted in such an alarmed way that I now think he thought he had caught me wanking. (That too, of course. I was a pubescent boy after all. But think of the guilt! You have to have lived back then to know about that!) Anyway, he looked almost relieved and told me I could read the Bible if I wanted to.

The climax – no wanking pun intended – was in 1959.

Last night I was 15 again…

16 FEB 2009

On Compass last night was a documentary that really took me back: Billy Graham Down Under. Radio National also covered it.

gallery-13

1959 Billy Graham Crusade gathering at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Source — Australian heritage photographic library.

I wasn’t there, but did go to the Sydney meetings with Sutherland Presbyterian Fellowship – even if the minister expressed a few doubts about the phenomenon, though he broadly supported it. I also went independently with some school friends, including one Jew, being 15 at the time.

From Compass, where the transcript has now appeared:

Narration
143 thousand people had crammed into the MCG and another 4,000 stood outside listening to hastily rigged up speakers. They had come from all over the state and they wanted to be part of the action.
Judith Smart – Historian
I was eight at the time. I was a member of the Malvern Baptist Sunday School. The Baptists were very evangelical and they decided that they should take all the Sunday School to the Billy Graham crusade.  We weren’t close enough to actually see Billy Graham but his speech was quite astonishing.

No, I didn’t go forward when the call came. I had already done that at a Fellowship Camp at Otford a month or two earlier. Oh, and in Sydney I was close enough to see the man quite close, comparatively speaking, in at least one of the meetings.

It was all rather amazing. Sydney had never seen such crowds, particularly for a religious gathering. On the last day the overflow filled the stadium next door as well as the SCG itself.

One of my teachers did mutter something about Nuremberg rallies, I recall. We thought that quite out of place at the time.

My trip back to 1959 did produce a Ninglun’s Specials entry: Memorabilia 15: 1959 — or thereabouts where you will find some quite wonderful super-8 footage of Sydney in that period. Not mine; a YouTube member posted it.

Much water has gone under the Harbour Bridge since then!

That was a profoundly emotional experience, that one at Otford. I can see now how I was in a sense set up for it, given the psychology and emotional state I have been indicating, and the fact I was rather a lonely and imaginative child.

RELATED: Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 2: 1958, Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 3: 1959 – 1961, Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 4: Cronulla 1961-1962, 1964-1969.

To be continued

Frameworks for belief — 2 – my world 1952 to 1959. A repost.

NOTE: From time I will repost from my former blog. Such posts are ones that “belong” here and may be followed up in future posts.  This post was originally published on 14 January 2013 under the title “Consider–my world 1952 to 1959”.

Here was my world from 1952 to 1955-6: Vermont Street Sutherland, NSW.

Vermont Street

And here I am in that world, towards the end of the period.

neilgps

That is April 1955 and I am in the front yard of 1 Vermont Street with my mother.  I am 11 years old, and newly at Sydney Boys High. I had had a serious illness just three or four months before – pancreatitis – so I may look a touch thin still. All the ribbons are because we are going to the GPS Regatta at Penrith, a big deal in those days and perhaps even more so in my family. I was the first in the family entitled to go as I was in a GPS school – albeit the only state-owned one – as I would later be the first in the family to go to university.

Just three years earlier my sister had died – 61 years ago today. She was cremated and her urn placed in a rose garden at Woronora Cemetery, which she now shares with Grandma and Grandpa Christison, who died in 1959 and 1963 respectively.

And that takes me to the subject of belief, because my sister’s death affected me very profoundly – of course this was just as true for the rest of my family and extended family, but it is of myself I think now as I sit in the last six months of my seventh decade. Read my mother’s account in her own words.

My immediate family were not religious, or perhaps more accurately were not church-goers.

My mother was perhaps best described as a stoic. In her words:

Truly, as Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote in “Ye Wearie Wayfarer”

Question not, but live and labour
Till yon goal be won,
Helping every feeble neighbour,
Seeking help from none;
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.”

The poets and Charles Dickens – she acquired a love for both from her father – were the formulae of her faith, rather than The Bible which she rarely read.

Tennyson:

Robert Louis Stevenson:

UNDER the wide and starry sky

  Dig the grave and let me lie:

Glad did I live and gladly die,

  And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
        

Here he lies where he long’d to be;

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

And my father? Very much impressed by the writings of Colonel Ingersoll, among others. Indeed it was from my father that I first heard the name. But his agnosticism – for such it was – combined with a respect for the ethics of Christianity and for much the churches did, though he, nominally an Anglican, did not really want to have much to do with them. He had seen, it appears, fanaticism in some of his family’s past – though he rarely talked about that or them. He did quote this back at me, though, when after around 1958-9 I became perhaps obnoxiously religious.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent

Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument

About it and about: but evermore

Came out by the same door wherein I went.

With them the seed of wisdom did I sow,

And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow:

And this is all the Harvest that I reap’d —

I came like water, and like water, and like wind I go.

And my Grandfather Christison, though the son of a woman of faith for whom he had enormous love and respect, was also truly an agnostic, at least as far as the institution of the church and the Holy Scriptures were concerned.  He loved his Dickens.

“…while I clean my boots keep a eye upon your mother now and then, and if you see any signs of more flopping, give me a call. For, I tell you,” here he addressed his wife once more, “I won’t be gone agin, in this manner. I am as rickety as a hackney-coach, I’m as sleepy as laudanum, my lines is strained to that degree that I shouldn’t know, if it wasn’t for the pain in ’em, which was me and which somebody else, yet I’m none the better for it in pocket; and it’s my suspicion that you’ve been at it from morning to night to prevent me from being the better for it in pocket, and I won’t put up with it, Aggerawayter, and what do you say now!”

Growling, in addition, such phrases as “Ah! yes! You’re religious, too. You wouldn’t put yourself in opposition to the interests of your husband and child, would you? Not you!” and throwing off other sarcastic sparks from the whirling grindstone of his indignation, Mr. Cruncher betook himself to his boot-cleaning and his general preparation for business.

A Tale of Two Cities

On “flopping” he once told me that when you see someone praying you should watch out for the knife in the other hand. He also deconstructed for me, as we might say now, quite a few of the stories in the Bible. I remember particularly that like any sane person in the last few centuries he was more a touch disbelieving about:

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hastened not to go down about a whole day.

Joshua 10:13

He also thought the Second Coming was taking rather a long time. He and I discussed such things there in Waratah Street West in the later 1950s,

I went to Church/Christian Endeavour/Sunday School probably no more times than can be counted on the fingers between 1950 and 1956. But that changed markedly, especially after 1959.  As I mentioned in the previous “Frameworks for belief” post my views in the early fifties derived from the books my mother had bought from some passing Seventh Day Adventist colporteur.

What I do remember is that I sought comfort as I grieved for my sister in the years 1952 and 1953 in religious rituals of my own, such as arranging crosses of pebbles in various parts of the garden, something my parents were totally unaware of. And I pondered the images of the next life and the resurrection of the body on those SDA “Uncle Arthur” books.

new

I also often had dreams and nightmares about death. In one I recall there was a skeleton by my bed, as vivid as can be.

To be continued.

Frameworks for belief–1 – a repost

NOTE: From time I will repost from my former blog. Such posts are ones that “belong” here and may be followed up in future posts.  This post was originally published on 7 January 2013 under the title “Consider”.

1. You know where you are…

Australia has been inhabited for at least 50,000 years. It was first inhabited by the remote Asian ancestors of the current Australian Aboriginal people. Australia was not discovered by Europeans until the 17th century


1768
Captain James Cook voyage of discovery in the Endeavour


1769
Captain James Cook reached Tahiti on 3 June


1770
Captain James Cook discovers New South Wales and takes possession of the Australian land in the name of Great Britain


1771
Captain James Cook returns to England


1772
13 July: Captain James Cook embarks on the voyage of discovery in the Resolution


1776
12 July: Captain James Cook with the ships HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery look for the Northwest passage but bad weather drives him back to Hawaii


1779
14 February: Captain Cook is killed by natives


1779
Banks suggests founding a convict settlement at Botany Bay.


1783
Plans for the colonization in New South Wales are made in the UK


1788
Foundation of Sydney.


1795
1795-1796: George Bass and Matthew Flinders make voyages in the Tom Thumb


1798
George Bass discovers the Bass Strait and Westernport.


1803
Matthew Flinders circumnavigates Australia.

And so on…

2. Where I now sit there were people living, breathing and walking about 20,000 years ago and more. According to a family tradition I had ancestors among them.

P1050254

60,000 years ago:  Age of Lake Mungo 3 human remains (age range between 56,000 and 68,000 years), south-western NSW, 987 km west of Sydney. Footprints discovered at Lake Mungo are believed to be 23,000 years old….

22,000 years ago: Occupation site at Wentworth Falls, NSW.

16,000 years ago: Hearths, stone and bone tools, Shaws Creek near Yarramundi (60 kms north-west from Sydney), NSW. Sea levels begin to rise as ice caps melt. Inland lakes such as Lake Mungo have dried up.

8,000 years ago:  Earliest visible evidence of Aboriginal belief connected with the rainbow Serpent. This becomes the longest continuing belief in the world.

5,000 years ago:  Occupation site, Penrith Lakes (about 50 kms west of Sydney), NSW. Coastline of Australia takes its present form

And so on… Source Australian Aboriginal history timeline.

art-aboriginal-ancient-278

28,000 thousand years old. How many generations of humanity before Abraham is that?

3. All of which makes it very difficult to treat the following with the awe and wonder it may have attracted in the past, or indeed in my own past. How do you reconcile the fact that in light of the above the grand cosmic narrative of the Abrahamic religions looks decidedly less impressive?

4004 B.C.
Creation of Adam and Eve – [Very few accept this “date” as having any connection whatever with anything that really happened in the history of this planet. — NW]


2348 B.C.
Noah’s Flood – [never happened — NW]


1996 to 1690 B.C.
The Biblical Patriarchs lived during this time – from Abraham to Jacob – [totally myth and legend, reflecting certain rather mundane developments in the movements of people and cultures, but having no resemblance to actual history. — NW]


1491 B.C.
The Exodus


1451 B.C.
Joshua leads the children of Israel into the Promised Land


1410 – 1050 B.C.
Time of Israel’s Judges


1050 – 930
First Kings of Israel – King Saul, King David and King Solomon


960 B.C.
Building of the first temple in Jerusalem


930 B.C.
Division of the Kingdom of Israel


930 – 723
The period of the Kings of Israel from Jeroboam I to Hoshea


930 – 586 B.C.
The period of the Kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Zedekiah


840 – 400 B.C.
Period of the Minor Prophets


723 B.C.
The fall of Israel


586 B.C.
Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple


515 B.C.
Temple at Jerusalem Rebuilt


63 B.C.
The Romans occupy Palestine


37 B.C.
Herod the Great is appointed ruler of Judea by Rome


Jesus was born either before 4 BC (when Herod the Great died) or in 6 AD (when the historical Census of Quirinius was undertaken).

jesus1

My childhood vision of Jesus, from one of the several “Uncle Arthur” books that were my primary source of religious imagery between the ages of 8 and 12. Any resemblance to the person born most likely in Nazareth (rather than Bethlehem) around 4BC is totally unlikely. Of course, symbolically…

aboriginal-easter-art

And yet, echoing Justin Erik Halldór Smith:

I know that I am picking and choosing, and that by many standards I’ve failed to meet the requirements of being a Christian. Many, like those with the banners at the sports events, take John 3:16 to contain the core message of the Gospels. I also claim to know what the core message of the Bible is: love and forgiveness (1 John 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Matthew 5:38), and I claim that there is much extraneous stuff too, which can have little to do with our understanding of the essence of Christianity: the rules concerning marriage, the disregard for animals, the cosmic significance of crucifixion. How do I justify my picking and choosing? Well, who wants me to justify it? The hoarse-voiced goon at the sports match shouting about how Jesus Christ died for my sins? What concern is he of mine?

Those who know me or have read me will probably know that I have often claimed that I am an atheist. I would like to stop doing this, but if I had to justify myself, I would say that it is for fear of being confused with that blowhard with the ‘John 3:16’ banner that I am unforthcoming about what I actually believe. I am infinitely closer, in the condition of my soul, to the people who feel God’s absence– the reasons for this feeling are a profound theological problem, and one might say that it is only smugness that enables people, atheists and dogmatists alike, to avoid grappling with this problem. I am with the people who detect God’s hand, perhaps without even realizing it, where the smug banner-holder sees only sin: in jungle music, dirty jokes, seduction, and swearing. I am with the preacher who puts out a gospel album, then goes to prison on fraud and drug charges for a while, then puts out a hip-grinding soul album, and then another gospel album. I am with the animals, who can’t even read, but can still talk to the saints of divine things. I am sooner an atheist, if what we understand by Christianity is a sort of supernatural monarchism; if we understand by it that God is love, though, then, I say, I am a Christian.

I will be exploring and developing the implications of this post in various ways in the future.