What was I up to in December 2011?

Entries from Monthly Archives: December 2011

World AIDS Day and my circle…

Posted on December 1, 2011 by Neil (abridged)

On 11 September 2001 I posted:

11 Sep 2001

Thoughts of a survivor: Guest article by Ian Smith, the Dowager Empress of Hong Kong

It is difficult to give advice to any one regarding HIV/AIDS. However here are a few thoughts from a long-term survivor.

Do not panic. This is easy to say, but the best thing you can do, is ignore the virus as much as possible, within reason. If you are on medication, never miss a dose. Always have safe sex to avoid passing the virus to someone else, and keep alcohol and other recreational drugs down. By this I do not mean give everything up, just try cutting down. Think, “Do I really need that E tonight?” If you do, take only half, or less. This has the advantage of saving money. It also has the advantage of not damaging your immune system as much…

Today there is an excellent article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Ori Golan, a freelance journalist and volunteer with the absolutely admirable Ankali Project.

… Dr Lynn Pulliam, writing in the Lancet, predicts up to 30 per cent of patients infected with HIV will develop a debilitating dementia. HIV is the most common cause of dementia in people under the age of 40, Dr Lachlan Gray at the Burnet Institute says, and recent studies have suggested milder neurocognitive impairment could be as high as 50 per cent of the infected population.

Many people with HIV are leading normal lives, their viral load undetectable and their physical appearance excellent. This, ironically, is part of the problem. In an interview shortly before his death, the British AIDS activist, Cass Mann, put it like this: ”The greatest disservice AIDS charities pay to [HIV-positive] men today is to present images of them as healthy, buffed, gym bunnies with glossy beautiful bodies having great lives, climbing mountains, partying in Sydney and looking beautiful. If they showed people in hospices dying of dementia or people with lipodystrophy that would stop them in their tracks.”

A recent study by Dr Lucette Cysique, of the Department of Neurology at St Vincent’s Hospital, predicts the number of people with HIV dementia will surpass 2600 by 2030. The toll on their family and friends is tremendous. Moreover, Dr Cysique says the annual cost of care will increase from $29 million in 2009 to $53 million in 2030.

We can be proud as we don our red ribbons this World AIDS Day that new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic…

There is no room for complacency. AIDS is still an incurable condition. We must act to curb it; we must reach out to this new generation so they know how to protect themselves. There is no time to waste. The global fight against AIDS is not over.

And The Dowager Empress is no longer with us either.

At The Empress’s Wake, Midnight Shift Hotel

And we have all of us mourned the passing of so many others.

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Back to 1944–or even earlier

Posted on December 3, 2011 by Neil

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That’s my brother Ian going to school. The photo is in Auburn Street Sutherland – yes, a dirt road then. The house is the McNamara place, opposite ours. Roy Mac had a slit trench air-raid shelter. If the point of this pic is my brother’s first day in “big school” then it would be around 1941, but it is certainly no later than 1944.

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Now that one, it seems to me, is 1944-45, but very likely 1945. In the left panel my Aunt Ruth Christison, mother of Ray who has lately commented here. I am in front of her, no older than 2 years which was 1945. The centre panel has my mother Jean, my Uncle Neil Christison, on leave no doubt from the RAAF at the time, and my sister Jeanette (1940-1952).  I am named after Uncle Neil, who is still with us. On the right my Aunt Beth Christison, later Beth Heard, and my brother Ian.

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See also Anzac Day scans.

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November 1944

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Even today you can see how close the bush, especially The Royal National Park, is to Auburn Street. We certainly would have seen and smelled those fires. I can’t remember the 1944 ones, but I sure remember some bad ones in the late 40s and early 50s, including one where the whole horizon was fire and smoke.

My Uncle Keith may have been among the servicemen fighting the 1944 fire as I believe around that time he was stationed at Loftus.

South African War and my family…

Posted on December 6, 2011 by Neil

Sorry, Sirdan! I am sure the Nel family were in this too somewhere…

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That’s 1 NSW Mounted Rifles. My rather roguish great-grandfather John H Christison was one of them.

NEW SOUTH WALES RIFLES/1ST NSW MOUNTED RIFLES

  • Absorbed first contingent units that became A and E Squadrons NSW Mounted Rifles
  • Original strength: 405
  • Subunits: three mounted rifle squadrons (later numbered B, C, and D squadrons), five after absorbing A and E squadrons
  • Commanding officer: Lt Col. G. C. Knight
  • Left for South Africa (B, C, and D squadrons only): 17 January 1900 on Southern Cross
  • Service: February 1900 – March 1901 in Free State, Transvaal, and western Cape Colony including charge at Diamond Hill (12 June 1900); absorbed A Squadron NSW Mounted Rifles in March 1900, 1st WA Mounted Infantry April 1900, and E Squadron NSW Mounted Rifles in May 1900
  • Fatal casualties (B, C, and D squadrons only): 10 killed or died of wounds, 13 died of disease
  • Decorations (B, C, and D squadrons only): three DSOs (A. J. Bennett, M. A. Hilliard, F. L. Learmonth), two DCMs (L. F. Hayward, F. W. P. Rudd), one Queen’s Scarf (A. H. Du Frayer)
  • Returned to Australia: 29 April 1901 (B, C, and D squadrons only)

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SA_MedalsSee also the source of the pictures above: About the Boer War.

My cousin Ray Christison notes:

From the late 1970s I made an effort of researching the life of John Hampton Christison. I have a listing of his addresses from 1880 until 1889. He seemed to fall off the radar after the divorce in 1891 and then he pops up again in the Boer War. He enlisted in the 2nd [sic] NSW Mounted Rifles and embarked from Sydney in 1899. Interestingly one of his companions was Peter Hancock, the Bathurst farrier who was shot with Breaker Morant in 1902. When he enlisted he gave his address as Regent Street, Mittagong – the home of his parents David and Catherine. I have John’s campaign medal from the Boer War which has bars for Witterbergen, Diamond Hill, Johannesburg, Driefontein & Cape Colony. He was wounded at Rhenoster Poort. When John returned from South Africa he obtained a job on the West Australian Government Railways and eventually rose to the rank of Station Master.

Fascinating stuff. I really had no idea, but thanks to the rather wonderful thread on my recent post Mainly family I now do.

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Update

My cousin Ray has written an excellent post on this. “I just may begin blogging his biography,” he says of John H. Please do!

My last coachee

Posted on December 15, 2011 by Neil

“i never thought to see the day where mr  …. would get a band 6 in english. f*** the world bitches! i is da bestes” – Facebook yesterday morning.

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That’s him. He is a guy who at 12 or 13 was seriously being compared to Roger Federer. He came my way because, after spending just about all of Years 7 to 10 on the international tennis circuit, he arrived at high school Year 11 having never actually written an essay… He was sent to me for help in 2010, and I did what I could up until I moved down here to Wollongong in August-September 2010. I had hopes he would do all right, and I am really chuffed that he has!

Indeed: 90%+ in Advanced English and a mention in the honours list in today’s paper. Smile He is of Iranian/Filipino background.

Afternoon at Five Islands Brewery Wollongong

Posted on December 15, 2011 by Neil

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Oh the humanity! Three exhibitions at Wollongong City Gallery

Posted on December 30, 2011 by Neil

The first exhibition is Generations.

Did you know the Wollongong City Gallery is currently exhibiting work by one of Australia’s most respected contemporary artists?

Hossein Valamanesh was born in Iran but immigrated to Australia in the early 1970s, and now lives in Adelaide. His work is displayed in pretty much every major gallery in the country, including the art galleries of South Australia, West Australia, and the National Gallery in Canberra.

And he has a couple of works on show in the Generations exhibition in Wollongong until February 26th.

One is a six metre ladder attached to a high ceiling with a round mirror at the top.

“The image of the ladder I’ve used for many years but this work was in regards to what is reality and what is dream and how long is a piece of string,” he said. “It’s like an escape hatch you can’t reach but it’s just close enough to feel like you can.”

The work is part of an exhibition that showcases artists with a cultural background outside Australia.

His son Nasseim is a film maker and also has a video piece in Generations.

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Story and picture from the ABC.

The second exhibition is of objects and statements by former refugees and migrants:Collections of Hopes and Dreams. Very moving. I propose to return and spend much longer with these things.

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The third exhibition is Local: Current 2011. Among the items are these beautiful objects in glass by South Coast Koori artist Noel Lonesborough.

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Go on upstairs and there is not only the beautiful former Council Chamber but also some first rate examples of Aboriginal art.

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Photoblog recycle: May 2013

The photoblog finished in February 2013, so these recycles are from here.

Friday: time out at Illawarra Brewery

Posted on May 25, 2013 by Neil

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Clear autumn morning

Posted on May 9, 2013 by Neil

In West Wollongong.

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And now it is May + Twilight of the Blogs?

Posted on May 1, 2013 by Neil

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Evening sky here in West Wollongong a couple of days ago.

Playing with photos

Posted on May 19, 2013 by Neil

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Compare Geard’s Hill–Mangerton.

Things my father did/didn’t tell me

Let’s think about 1925, when my father was 13/14 years old. There was, he told me more than once, a group of artists that used to come down to Shellharbour – from Sydney, one imagines. My father spent time with them, and they encouraged his artistic talent, evidence of which I have seen in works he drew during World War 2, none of which survive.

My grandfather T D Whitfield didn’t encourage this artiness. My father told me that he therefore hid his art gear and paintings in a rock shelter on what was then Native Dog Hill, Mount Warrigal today.

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See Shellharbour – a double post

Perhaps my grandfather also had in mind the influences my dad as a very handsome boy who had just left school at 13 may have been subjected to.

DH Souter, who supervised the decorations for the 1923 artists’ ball, described it as a ‘jazz fantasy’. It was at this ball that the famous poet, writer and Queen of Bohemia, Dulcie Deamer, wore her cavewoman outfit. The photograph of Deamer dressed in a wrap-around leopard skin hide complete with a dogtooth necklace has come to symbolize the joi de vivre of the decade, despite Deamer’s own protest regarding its relevance.

Perhaps the most notorious of the artists’ balls of this decade was held at the Sydney Town Hall in 1924. The ball turned, if not into an orgy, then into a veritable bacchanalia: alcohol flowed freely and spirits were smuggled in in great numbers. Deamer called it the ‘Night of the Great Scandal’. The theme of this ball was ‘Back to Childhood’, so George Finey hid a bottle of rum in his nappy, secured with a safety pin, and Jack Lindsay hid whisky flasks in the habit of his friend who had dressed as Friar John. In the basement of the Town Hall the floor was covered in beer. Fights erupted after gatecrashers climbed through the basement windows, and extra police and the fire brigade were eventually called to clear the overcrowded basement which was littered with drunken semi-naked women, broken crockery and high spirited revellers. The Lord Mayor’s orderly, Martin Carrick, reported that ‘in one place I saw a helpless man and woman vomiting into each other’s laps’, and in the Ladies Rest Rooms ‘men were entering with women and locking themselves in the compartments’.

Certainly sometime around 1925 my father encountered the poetry of Swinburne. In the 1960s I found that rather sad, seeing Swinburne through Leavisite eyes – not a great figure in the pantheon of Sydney University English in those days.

A land that is lonelier than ruin
A sea that is stranger than death
Far fields that a rose never blew in,
Wan waste where the winds lack breath;
Waste endless and boundless and flowerless
But of marsh-blossoms fruitless as free
Where earth lies exhausted, as powerless
To strive with the sea.

2

Far flickers the flight of the swallows,
Far flutters the weft of the grass            10
Spun dense over desolate hollows
More pale than the clouds as they pass
Thick woven as the weft of a witch is
Round the heart of a thrall that hath sinned,
Whose youth and the wrecks of its riches
Are waifs on the wind.

Actually it is rather dreadful, isn’t it? Not so this painting in the Art Gallery of NSW, which my father loved, as do I still.

Artist : Douglas Watson (Australia, b.1920, d.1972) Title : Date : -1948 Medium Description: pen and ink, wash Dimensions : Credit Line : Purchased 1952 Image Credit Line : Accession Number : 865

W Lister Lister “The ever restless sea” 1892

My father also encountered in the 1920s the writings of Robert Ingersoll.

I do not say, and I do not believe, that Christians are as bad as their creeds. In spite of church and dogma, there have been millions and millions of men and women true to the loftiest and most generous promptings of the human heart. They have been true to their convictions, and, with a self-denial and fortitude excelled by none, have labored and suffered for the salvation of men. Imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice, believing that by personal effort they could rescue at least a few souls from the infinite shadow of hell, they have cheerfully endured every hardship and scorned every danger. And yet, notwithstanding all this, they believed that honest error was a crime. They knew that the Bible so declared, and they believed that all unbelievers would be eternally lost. They believed that religion was of God, and all heresy of the devil. They killed heretics in defence of their own souls and the souls of their children. They killed them because, according to their idea, they were the enemies of God, and because the Bible teaches that the blood of the unbeliever is a most acceptable sacrifice to heaven.

My father was fond of Omar Khayam:

His creed was “moderation in all things”. Since I became a dedicated Calvinist in the mid 1960s I found that disappointing; I am sure Dad was however trying to tell me something. It was around this time he mentioned Colonel Ingersoll.