Blog time travel back 20 years to August 2002 — because I can

Here is an apt musical intro:

Thanks to the Wayback Machine here are posts from August 2002.

This is a funny time personally. Last night I slept rather badly, unusual for me. I woke around 4 am, though I did get off to sleep again for a while after 5, but broken sleep is never the same, is it? Subconsciously, I think, I must have been listening for the time M would usually return from work. He was just here a short time ago and tells me he is finding the new place will take some getting used to, and he also had not slept well. “It’s so quiet here,” he said. He liked my rearrangements and had a few suggestions too.

Twelve years is a long time in both our lives. Almost a third of his!

–1 August 2002

Any of you remember Doogie Howser on TV, the cute young teen genius MD who finished each episode writing up his computer diary? Intrigued me and seemed unlikely at the time. Well, here I am an online journal junkie (read them too) but not half so cute as Doogie was. Wonder what he is doing now?

Yesterday was just terrific, beginning with Yum Cha and ending with a steamboat that I cooked myself; I think M would have been proud of me. Actually it is dead easy–boiling water, the right ingredients, and just the right company–and I had all of them. Magic. And it provided tonight’s dinner as well…

Going to a play soon too, it appears. It should be a contrast to The Importance of Being Earnest, even if the production we saw was a touch, well, postmodern–a lot of gender bending and transgression of time periods, but it worked. More after I have seen the play, including its name, which I hold in reserve.

I prepared for the Department of Education the annual census of students from Language Backgrounds Other than English (LBOTE), the new jargon that quite rightly has replaced NESB, which always had a connotation of NOT doing something, as if they should bloody well have been brought up speaking English, so there (seeing as God does, and George W Bush almost does.) In 1997 our school had 571 such students out of about 1000; today it is 879. One in three students (at least) are from Chinese-speaking backgrounds. Quite a social change, though it is amazing how the same playground games go on, and the same classroom ones when the students get a slack moment–noughts and crosses, hangman, table-top soccer, and so on. One does however see more students engaged in games of Chinese Chess. In fact one sees them; I don’t think we did in 1997.

From The Record 2002

Social change (partly related to such phenomena as those I have just described) is the concern of much in this month’s Quadrant, which I have bought for a change, attracted perhaps by its delightfully mauve cover. There are some promising things: the poetry and short stories are always worth a look, even if they are not always the most exciting stuff around; there is an interesting-looking article by Sophie Masson (who had some comtact with us at Neos back in 1984-5) on M. le Pen; there could be more too. The bulk though struck me as being a sunshine home for the embittered intelligentsia. Really. I mean, in twenty years I may qualify to write for them myself! It is good to see people whose work I saw forty years ago still on the job, I guess. Harry Gelber, for example, seems to think we can understand 21st century Australia by reading the poems of Banjo Paterson and gazing at the paintings of Sir Arthur Streeton–just as one might understand modern Britain by reading Kipling (who wrote rather better than Paterson perhaps, but in a similar style) and gazing at the paintings of Landseer. Sad.

Ultra-conservatives find themselves doing contortions to make the world fit their preferred reality almost as much as Marxists used to. Their crustiness has a certain nostalgic appeal though, and I must repeat there are some articles of interest in this Quadrant, such as the exchange on religion between poet Alan Gould and that surprisingly common oddity, a Bible-believing scientist.

–5 August 2002

When your heart is in something there is not much you can do about it. How can you prove it to another? You can’t. You take it on trust. Or not. I don’t usually say things I don’t mean, or use important words loosely.

Intellectualising about it will do no good at all.

Even more concerning is the pain that the other person must have been feeling. Was I too imperceptive earlier in the day? That’s probably what I really should be thinking about.

Can’t report on the play–didn’t make it.

Sunday 11 August 2002: not a good day

3 am: Not a time I am usually up, but I woke a short time ago, not surprising really, and have some clarity on yesterday’s events and their context. Some of what I wrote yesterday was unnecessarily self-centred, I now feel, so I have edited it a little now that events are gaining some perspective.

I do not choose to elaborate; it would be inappropriate, but if the message that I understand pretty much what happened, disturbing as it was, gets through this way that cannot be a bad thing.

Quite a few things add up really. It is not a problem that is down to me to solve, though genuine understanding and real friendship and a degree of objectivity, which I am capable of since I don’t have a hidden agenda in this regard, may, I certainly hope, be of use. Only experience can solve the problem, and in that area are clear limits which I generally would not transgress, and certainly would not in this instance.

At 3 am with no company but my own and my conscience, and a very strong sense of what I think is right and important, I am not about to write crap here: every word thus far is as trustworthy as human language can be.

Well, back to sleep. There is a lot to do tomorrow even if it is a day off.

* * *

…and later still!

M came and collected a few things just now; the new place is working out OK.

At the newsagent I collected the June/July issue of Philosophy Now which promised some relevant reading. A rather conservative article by Gerald Lang makes a defence of a limited moral relativism (see “Moral Relativism & Cultural Chauvinism”). I too am unhappy with a complete moral relativism, yet on the other hand the moral systems we have inherited are often based in religious and cultural practices of dubious currency, and lead to an arbitrary practice that is often quite sinister and dangerous. Witness the crimes and oppressions too countless to repeat here in their names. Yet NO morality is not possible. Nor is cynicism the answer. Lang has not solved anything but nor have I.

I have on reflection not always acted in life even my own principles, though I try to; if I lapse I either (if that is all that is to be done) walk away and learn from it, I hope, or (better) acknowledge it and attempt to redeem it. Sometimes the questionable act is the product of a mixture of motives, not all of them bad; one can sift through the motives and rectify them, or one can act from better motives from the point of error onwards. Exploitation of others for one’s own purposes is always immoral; to me relativism does not apply to that one, although it is still not as simple a concept in practice as that form of words suggests. Support of another’s self-esteem and human potential is, conversely, always good, though even there one can err in the way it is done.

Nothing is really simple, is it? Honest if fallible is all I can claim, and like any person moving through the changes of life, able to take account of circumstances and sensitive to them. I suspect recently I have fallen down in that last part, though I can say absolutely not in the first.

There is also a movie review of some interest, the upshot of which is to affirm how peculiar the 70s were in some respects; at that point I think the case of Mardi Gras is relevant. Aspects of it were a product of those times, and its relevance now is questionable. Perhaps that is really what happened to it. On the other hand, the movie apparently explores very sensitively the cost in human misery of an unreflective heterosexism, something this otherwise quite conservative reviewer endorses. Oh the movie? Together, directed by Swedish director Lukas Moodysson. Hey, now there’s a name!

12 August 2002

It’s quite early again, but nothing as early as yesterday morning, that I find myself at the computer; in fact I have slept fairly well.

Here is part of a meditation I just found on Interlude, a site I find a comfort quite often when the world seems a bit awry. Here is an extract:

“The willingness to harm or hurt comes ultimately out of fear. Non-harming requires that you see your own fears and that you understand them and own them. Owning them means taking responsibility for them. Taking responsibility means not letting fear completely dictate your vision or your view. Only mindfulness of our own clinging and rejecting and a willingness to grapple with these mind states, however painful the encounter, can free us from this circle of suffering.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Which is a bit Buddhist, but that’s OK.

Things are a bit tough right now.

* * *

To follow on from yesterday for a bit.

Morality obviously includes far more than sex; there is a range of interpersonal issues, and indeed recent corporate scandals, not to mention war and so on, raise yet more issues. At the interpersonal level my own bottom line is that each of us is entitled to his/her integrity, freedom of choice, self-respect and personal safety. Families at best are meant to foster that bottom line. In sexual morality one enters a minefield; the hard Church teaching that sex is somehow evil (and gloss it as they may that is what they have taught) and that the only legitimate sex is in marriage for procreation rather than pleasure is unsustainable, and even the Church itself very often backs off from that. That leaves a lot up to individual choices.

My own choice is very conservative. There are practices that some, gay and straight I might add, consider highly pleasurable, but I don’t. I have been rebuked sometimes and called boring, but it is what I am comfortable with and that is where I must stand. I have had delightful times of intimacy with those I have been in relationships with where sex is part of the program. At the same time I have had delightful moments of intimacy (but not sex) with some where sex is NOT part of the program. I like human contact, it can’t be denied. But love, friendship, affection and all that are the most important things, and we all need to experience these without feeling got at somehow. I think so, anyway. What do the rest of you feel?

* * *

Marcia [the Head Teacher English at SBHS] says I look tired, which is to be expected. Work is climaxing with the Trial this week, and a few other issues such as having to speak to the Parents and Citizens Association on multicultural matters next week, and some students who have pressing problems to be dealt with. But in its own way this is rewarding–assuming I survive of course.

Colleagues 2002

It is particularly galling to know that I am being misjudged in another quarter, perhaps, which explains my tendency lately to argue so much on various issues (that we all have).

I now have more socks than you can poke a stick at, thanks to M. The soup is good. And I just had a phone call from Marcel Proust, who seems a decent guy.

Well I have dinner to get, and two essays to mark. There may be more lurking in my email!

13 August 2002

Heartfelt

My heart goes out to this student involved in the overambitious HSC English Extension course on postmodernism; email arrived yesterday and issue talked through in class today:

Sir,

I was hoping to see you today (Tuesday) but due to my devotion to doing well in school I was unable to attend class. Nevertheless I was hoping to see you tomorrow after our lesson Period 4. I’m aware that you have other commitments and this may not be possible. If you could email me a reply tonight (if you get it tonight that is) it would be greatly appreciated.

Now to the heart of problem (n.b. this does not have to be dealt with asap), I’m having trouble with essay writing, not the actual writing cause I’m good at that, but grappling with ideas of postmodernism. I am not totally convinced by post modernism (as are many) but I understand enough (I have done extensive theoretical reading) to be completely unsure of what it really is. So when I am writing an essay describing postmodern elements (like pastiche and parody in the last task) I feel very inclined to keep making the point that this is a postmodern device. This is because I don’t believe that these are postmodern devices and although they are open to any interpretation by responders the postmodern descriptions don’t sit well with me. This amounts to an essay that does not flow well, as I can’t really get comfortable with the pretense that the text is postmodern. I find myself justifying, every time I make a statement in an essay, that the text is truly a postmodern text. Do I need to do this? or do assume that the marker is believing that the text is postmodern?

I need help in pinning down what the markers are looking for. Do you need to show that you know the texts are postmodern and these…blah blah… are the reasons why? (what I’ve previously been doing, without believing they are postmodern) Or do you show the various elements that are used by the composer and say that these are believed to be postmodern and then voice some kind of opinion on the issue? If I went through and identified all the aspects of the texts that tied in with (say) pastiche and gave textual reference in the way of quotes and compared it to my supplementary texts; does this answer the question (getting me full marks). Or do I make a commentary on the nature of these elements (which is what I naturally feel inclined to do) and get weighed down in the complex theory of postmodern philosophers.

I realise that postmodernism can be taken seriously or lightly and that authors don’t feel the same passion towards destroying the grand narratives that philosophers do, but I need to know what level I need to analyse at? Who do I look at when talking generally about postmodernism? do I talk generally about postmodernism? what questions would I not talk generally about postmodernism?

I understand that there is no definite answer to these questions (God I’m sounding postmodern already) but if you could throw me a line and show me the general direction it would help immensely. I’m sorry I lumped all this on you at one time, don’t feel pressured to answer it straight away, I’ll probably make it through the Trial all right if you need a long time. If you could answer even one of these queries then I would be very grateful.

It turns out his mother has a Ph. D. in Philosophy!

Refers to this class and this online class material, originally on Diary-X

Other

Since I am here, I do have to say I like Dimitri at the local coffee shop, where I felt I wanted to go so that normality might to some extent be restored. He is a very calm person.

Madam and Dimitri — Cafe Max Surry Hills

Patrick Cook has good fun with the ALP this week in The Bulletin, almost as funny as his treatment of the Democrats last week, but not quite. I passed my time at the coffee shop reading that.

Yes, I know… but there are still things to be said

I have over the last few years said a lot about coming out, and the pain of my own life (as well as the positives) over the years up to that. When I finally did, I repeat (yes, I know, a sign of age) it was in my own terms. All I was recognising was an aspect of myself–my close relations would be with men. Not because I chose that, but because that was the way it is. I did make choices though. Some were prudential, but happened also to suit my sense of myself–such as avoiding sexual excess and exchanges of bodily fluids. I still think that I could not base a life around sex. It is too transient.

I am not a seeker of new bodies and new sensations. I have never had sex in a bathhouse, a park, a toilet, or any of the places some men find, well, congenial. I reject the necessity (what necessity?) of engaging in certain practices which others engage in. In at least one case this cuts me off from what someone I know wants from me, for although I am very fond of him, he and I would be sexually incompatible, as his tastes are quite different to mine. We continue to be friends however, as he is a mature person who realises what I have just said. (I hope! He sometimes reads this diary, and I do hope he is not hurt by this.)

I (and you) have a right to our choices, and a right to our bodies, and a right to our individual senses of self. I much prefer friendship anyway to passion; it was friendship not passion that sustained my recent long-term relationship after the passion had faded (as it does); essentially it continues, though circumstances have recently changed.

I have probably turned off a whole army of potential suitors now 😉 but it is interesting that since expressing such thoughts on my OUT profile (but more concisely) I have scored a few ticks. Apparently we are not all hedonists or sensualists after all.

I do feel I have taken perhaps too much emotional comfort from a source where giving such was more appropriate; at least I did also give (very much) — that is something, and did not merely take. My expression of my feeling may not always have been appropriate either. People do need to feel safe together though, don’t they? Even if they are safe, we should be sure they feel safe.

Such issues need to be thought of, and one’s own synthesis found; not necessarily a condemnation of those who think and act differently, so long as their actions do not encroach on the welfare of others. It does take all sorts, as they say.

14 August 2002

I am, I have to say, more than a little happy tonight.

I suspect my sleeping problems are behind me, and have also come to realise that one can be mistaken about mistakes. 🙂

Good chat with Sirdan at the Irish Pub to round off the day, followed by a phone call only outranked in its uplift by one I had last night.

15 August 2002

Later

Yum Cha earlier today; the food was good as ever, especially the mango pudding. One determined certain limits through the experience today, ensuring a priority I had announced the day before. Reading King Lear this afternoon, a shared experience, enacted the reconciliation the play dramatises, and made the catharsis of last Sunday into something of a prelude to better times, confirming where my life is best spent right now. I am well pleased.

Sunday 18 August 2002

Two things today.

First, last night I had to speak to the school’s Parents and Citizens Association on the subject of multiculturalism, a task I looked forward to with some foreboding, as controversies over the “imbalance” of the school have been raging (as you would know if you are a regular here) for most of this year. We have been a ridiculously frequent subject on the front pages of the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph, editorial columns, letters pages, talk-back radio (which I just correctly typoed as “talk-cack radio”!) and even TV current affairs shows. We even get a column in this week’s Bulletin courtesy of Catherine Lumby, who is actually quite right in the trend of her analysis of the power structures involved, though some may bridle at her mode of expression.

Usually there are between ten and twenty people at these meetings; last night there were forty, including, I am pleased to say, a greater than usual representation of our Chinese parents. Also present (at my invitation) were two consultants in multiculturalism from the Department of Education, one male and one female, and Tony Hannon, the 1st Grade Rugby Coach, whose coda to my speech endorsing the current school situation as something he loved carried some weight. I gave a dispassionate account of government policy, then pulled all stops out in my account of why there are so many students from backgrounds other than English, especially Chinese ones. Afterwards, one of the consultants hugged and kissed me (the female one) and declared herself a fan! The audience were won over; not one nasty remark or provocative question.

Thoughts had been sent my way at 7.30 and I am sure they arrived 🙂

My Anne Wilson Schaff Meditations for Living in Balance for yesterday was on, would you believe, “Expanding Our Horizons” by learning from other cultures! Serendipidous indeed.

Speaking of living in balance, I come to the second thing. I was fascinated to read Queer Scribe’s well-written but often very raunchy diary yesterday. Here is a very bright man, twenty years younger than I, whose libido is somewhat more active, shall we say, than mine tends to be:

Writing about insecurities and fears here always make me feel vulnerable, but it seems those are the entries folks most respond to. I have had several emails from readers—many of them gay men around my age—and it would appear I’ve struck a chord. (Or a nerve?) That makes me feel good, not only that I am not the only one going through (putting myself through?) this shit, but also that others out there might feel less alone too….

But more than that, there’s a terrific opportunity here. Because I have been depending too much on my body, my—for a thirty-six year old—youthful good looks. Although this is less true than it was, say, three or four years ago, still much of the sex I look for and sometimes find is a way of hiding, of keeping myself small, safe, apart. It’s time, again, to look at what might be underneath all that, at what, exactly, it is I’m hiding, or hiding from.

I suspect that what I’m hiding—and hiding from—is love. Big surprise eh?

22 August 2002

It’s a while since I had a “sickie”, but I decided I needed one today. So here I am at home. I work part time anyway and can adjust my days to suit, up to a point. Mid-term is a time when the need for a “mental health day” strikes many a teacher, and the past few weeks have had their share of stresses. And triumphs, I hasten to add; but the only way I will break the back of the Trial HSC marking and cope with a few other things down the track is to take a little time out.

The stressors? Well, adapting to new circumstances at home–and that is going well really, and M has been terrific. Also, the pressure of taking over that Year 12 class had a cost, though well worth it. Some other dramas also occurred, but again the outcome has really been good. It all takes energy though, and that sometimes needs replenishing. I am aware too that I am not getting any younger.

Yesterday evening, I hasten to add, was one of life’s more wonderful offerings. I look forward to more of them. My Chinese cooking is improving.

Things are looking up for Sirdan too, who has a nice new place to live. He particularly complimented me on Sunday’s diary entry.

27 August 2002

Moments in my eBook Library — 9 — Black Gold (ANU Press) and miniseries New Gold Mountain (2021)

Only after the last post had me looking back through the free offerings from ANU Press in Canberra did I encounter Fred Cahir, Black Gold: Aboriginal People on the Goldfields of Victoria, 1850-1870 (2012) which I added to my eBook Library. I am looking forward to reading it.

Fred Cahir tells the story about the magnitude of Aboriginal involvement on the Victorian goldfields in the middle of the nineteenth century.

The first history of Aboriginal–white interaction on the Victorian goldfields, Black Gold offers new insights on one of the great epochs in Australian and world history—the gold story.

In vivid detail it describes how Aboriginal people often figured significantly in the search for gold and documents the devastating social impact of gold mining on Victorian Aboriginal communities. It reveals the complexity of their involvement from passive presence, to active discovery, to shunning the goldfields.

This detailed examination of Aboriginal people on the goldfields of Victoria provides striking evidence which demonstrates that Aboriginal people participated in gold mining and interacted with non-Aboriginal people in a range of hitherto neglected ways.

Running through this book are themes of Aboriginal empowerment, identity, integration, resistance, social disruption and communication.

Last year SBS showed an excellent miniseries — in October 2021 I see I shared about it on Facebook thirteen times! — called New Gold Mountain.

See an excellent essay on The Conversation by Professor of History & Director Future Regions Research Centre, Federation University Australia Keir Reeves.

You can imagine how startled recent arrivals from the bustling South China trading ports of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau must have been on disembarkation. The flora and fauna – literally everything – was so different to home.

[Director Corrie] Chen explores this shock in a moment of brief magical realism with Wei Shing’s encounters with a kangaroo. It seems the bush sees all. The Chinese miners and their Indigenous and European counterparts were all coming to terms with a landscape broken by mining and colonised by a disparate society coming to terms with its own experiences and opportunities. New Gold Mountain evocatively captures this moment.

I wondered about the portrayal of First Australians and their place on the goldfields in New Gold Mountain but really had not read much history on that specific theme. In all that I read or was taught in the past about the gold rush period the Indigenous element had virtually disappeared, while the Chinese element (though usually distorted) was strongly present. So as I said, looking forward to this book.

‘Australia – news from home’, Baxter, George, (ca 1853), lithograph, ink on paper. Collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum, Image 00008756.
Visitors to the goldfields were often struck by the multi-cultural nature of the population on the Victorian goldfields. The exotic attraction of each other was often portrayed by goldfield artists. — Fred Cahir

Introduction

By the time that gold was officially discovered in Victoria in 1851 the Port Phillip Aboriginal Protectorate (1838-1850) had been disbanded, Aboriginal people had been dispossessed of their land by squatters and sheep, and they were now facing a second invasion – gold seekers from across the globe. When, by the mid 1850s, it became clear that gold was literally strewn across Victoria, the rush to the diggings by a mass of humanity began.

This book dispels four common misconceptions surrounding Aboriginal people on the goldfields of Victoria during the nineteenth century: that most Aboriginal people were attached to sheep stations rather than townships; that those few at mining settlements were on the periphery; that those on the periphery were bewildered spectators; and finally, that Aboriginal experiences on the goldfields were primarily negative. This book reveals that Victorian Aboriginal people demonstrated a great degree of agency, exhibited entrepreneurial spirit and eagerness to participate in gold-mining or related activities and, at times, figured significantly in the gold epoch. Their experiences, like those of non-Indigenous people, were multi-dimensional, from passive presence, active discovery, to shunning the goldfields. There is striking and consistent evidence that Aboriginal people, especially those whose lands were in rich alluvial gold bearing regions, remained in the gold areas, participated in gold mining and interacted with non-Indigenous people in a whole range of hitherto neglected ways, whilst maintaining many of their traditional customs. There is also evidence that Aboriginal people from Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia were present on the Victorian goldfields…

…Without downplaying the extent of violent conflict that continued to occur between Aboriginal people and the newcomers, without denying the high degree of racial vilification and oppression that Aboriginal people continued to suffer, this book nevertheless documents a significant level of cooperative endeavour that suggests that life on the goldfields may have offered a rare moment of respite from the rigours of colonialism for Aboriginal people.

June 2012 on Neil’s “Final” Decade blog — 2

So much! The second of three selections from June 2012.

Exploring my inner Scot

Posted on  by Neil

FotoSketcher - Picture0025a

Convinced?

There was a time in Primary School when, bored with just being an Aussie, I pretended to myself and sometimes to my classmates that I was Scottish. Well, I guess I am partly, being descended via my mother from Scottish people named Christison, voluntary boat-people from the latter 19th century. The tartan, by the way, actually came from Scotland via my Aunt Beth who visited there a number of times. It must be around 40 years old now but is still my main source of winter warmth! Highly efficient.

They’ve been around in Scotland for a while, the Christisons. On the right you can see a heap of them, including my great-great-grandfather, in the town of Brechin in Angus-shire in the 19th century.

And I recently discovered one – probably one of them – was deep in the Scottish Reformation.

…The poor, of course, only exchanged better for worse landlords, as they soon discovered.  The “Zealous Brethren”—as a rule small lairds, probably, and burgesses—were the nucleus of the Revolution.  When townsfolk and yeomen in sufficient number had joined them in arms, then nobles like Argyll, Lord James, Glencairn, Ruthven, and the rest, put themselves at the head of the movement, and won the prizes which had been offered to the “blind, crooked, widows, orphans, and all other poor.”

After Parliament was over, at the end of December 1558, the Archbishop of St. Andrews again summoned the preachers, Willock, Douglas, Harlaw, Methuen, and Friar John Christison to a “day of law” at St. Andrews, on February 2, 1559.  (This is the statement of the “Historie.”) The brethren then “caused inform the Queen Mother that the said preachers would appear with such multitude of men professing their doctrine, as was never seen before in such like cases in this country,” and kept their promise.  The system of overawing justice by such gatherings was usual, as we have already seen; Knox, Bothwell, Lethington, and the Lord James Stewart all profited by the practice on various occasions.

Mary of Guise, “fearing some uproar or sedition,” bade the bishops put off the summons, and, in fact, the preachers never were summoned, finally, for any offences prior to this date…

And earlier still:

Dabbling in family history of the Christisons — my mother’s lot. Sasine (Scots law) is the delivery of feudal property, typically land.
Country Code G[reat] B[ritain]

Rep. Code 234
Repository National Archives of Scotland
Ref. No GD198/55
Title Instrument of sasine following on precept from chancery, 26th May, (1490) following on GD198/54, reciting procuratory, 25th May, 1490, by
Alexander Setoune [Seaton] of Tulybody [Tullibody], sheriff of Strivelineshire [Stirling], in favour of John Davidsone [Davidson], one of serjeants of said sheriffdom.
Date 27th May, 1490
Description Notary: Dugald Cossour [Cossar], priest, St. Andrews diocese.
Attorney: Thomas Buchquhanane [Buchanan]. Witnesses: Robert Buchquhannane [Buchanan], Patrick Haldane, Thomas Cristisone [Christison], David Lyndesay [Lindsay], John Conysoune, Duncan Arrald [Arrol], MAURICE MAKADAME [McAdam], Patrick Malcomsoun [Malcolmson], Gilchrist Henrisone [Henderson].

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GRIERSON/2005-10/1130119212

Lately I have been reading quite a few Scottish things, beginning with Josephine Tey. More about her in the next post, except to say she was no fan of Scottish Nationalists. Here is her portrait of one from her novel The Singing Sands.

… They fished turn-about, in a fine male amity; Grant flicking his line with a lazy indifference, Pat with the incurable optimism of his kind. By noon they had drifted back to a point level with the little jetty, and they turned inshore to make tea on the primus in the little bothy. As Grant was paddling the last few yards he saw Pat’s eye fixed on something along the shore, and turned to see what occasioned such marked distaste. Having looked at the advancing figure with its shoggly body and inappropriate magnificence, he asked who that might be.

‘That’s Wee Archie,’ said Pat.

Wee Archie was wielding a shepherd’s crook that, as Tommy remarked later, no shepherd would be found dead with, and he was wearing a kilt that no Highlander would dream of being found alive in. The crook stood nearly two feet above his head; and the kilt hung down at the back from his non-existent hips like a draggled petticoat. But it was obvious that the wearer was conscious of no lack. The tartan of his sad little skirt screamed like a peacock, raucous and alien against the moor. His small dark eel’s head was crowned by a pale blue Balmoral with a diced band, the bonnet being pulled down sideways at such a dashing angle that the slack covered his right ear. On the upper side a large piece of vegetation sprouted from the crest on the band. The socks on the hairpin legs were a brilliant blue, and so hairy in texture that they gave the effect of some unfortunate growth. Round the meagre ankles the thongs of the brogues were cross-gartered with a verve that even Malvolio had never achieved.

‘What is he doing round here?’ Grant asked, fascinated.

‘He lives at the inn at Moymore.’

‘Oh. What does he do?’

‘He’s a revolutionary.’ …

Elizabeth-Mackintosh-myst-008

“Josephine Tey” — Elizabeth Mackintosh – 1896-1952

You will find her books linked to the picture.

See also Elizabeth Mackintosh: woman of mystery who deserves to be rediscovered.

Last week, I went to Kevin Spacey’s Richard III at the Old Vic and came away marvelling, yet again, at the polemical and psychological brilliance of Shakespeare’s remorseless Tudor propaganda. The “bottled spider” is not just a deformed monster, an object of fear, but a strangely lovable monster, who excites our pity, too.

Afterwards, the conversation turned to the princes in the Tower. Did Richard really murder his nephews? The Daughter of Time was one of my adolescent favourites and so I referred, en passant, to Josephine Tey. Blank looks: no one had heard of this once-celebrated mystery writer from the 1940s and 50s.

That might be how Elizabeth Mackintosh, born in 1896 at Inverness, might have wished it. As well as “Josephine Tey“, she also wrote as “Gordon Daviot“, and seems to have been obsessively private. Even in death, she slipped away, unobserved, and in disguise. The Timesrecords the death of Gordon Daviot on 13 February 1952, two days before the state funeral of George VI, whose life, death and majesty had filled the newspapers that week.

Miss Mackintosh’s cremation in Streatham Vale was attended by only a handful of mourners, but they included Dame Edith Evans and John Gielgud, both friends.

So, whoever “Gordon Daviot” represented, it was someone rather unusual, a creative artist whom people cared about. Gielgud later wrote: “Her sudden death was a great surprise and shock to all her friends in London. I learned afterwards that she had known herself to be mortally ill for nearly a year, and had resolutely avoided seeing anyone she knew.”

Apart from By The Banks of the Ness by Mairi A MacDonald, there’s almost nothing biographical in print about “Bessie” Mackintosh. She grew up in Scotland, one of three sisters, trained as a PE teacher and suffered, as many young women did, a mysterious and inconsolable bereavement during the Great War. When her mother died in 1926, she was called home to nurse her invalid father. Her writing, which began as an escape from domestic routine, first appeared in The English Review in the late 1920s…

Sunday afternoon — art at the old Court House

Posted on  by Neil

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More from Belmore Basin on Sunday

Posted on  by Neil

Such a beautiful winter day!

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At The Steelers Club 1

Posted on  by Neil

Had a lovely lunch/afternoon at The Steelers yesterday.

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It was a very significant day:

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Sadly, the local team went on to lose, but everyone is happy to see the long saga of the Western Grandstand come to an end at last. See my posts for 25 August 2011 and 20 September 2011. I chatted yesterday afternoon to Phil, who had been there on that day, and quite exciting it was too. You will see if you read that post that I was almost there myself but had opted for the Hellenic Club instead.

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Friendly rivals gathering before yesterday’s game.

NOTE: The Long Quan was replaced in due course by the amazing Sichuan restaurant Red Dragon — also sadly a memory! This was the Christmas special there in 2013!

Holy Week reflections — 1

A tad misleading, but as I said I want a change of pace and also where possible to avoid wars and politics for a while. As I said in the last post: But let’s spend this Holy Week in reflection, and enjoyment of the beauty humanity can make!

Like this which happened in my world on Monday. As I said on Facebook:

Just thought I’d mention this, what with it still being Ramadan…

Yesterday at the bus stop in Mount Keira Road, waiting for the 10.20 39 to Wollongong. A neighbour joined me. “If ever you need help,” he said out of the blue, “or want anything done, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Of course I thanked him.

His name is Mohammed and he is from Lahore, Pakistan.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan — Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Urdu: نصرت فتح علی خان) (born Pervez Fateh Ali Khan; 13 October 1948 – 16 August 1997) was a Pakistani vocalist, musician, composer and music director, primarily a singer of qawwali, a form of Sufi devotional music. He is considered by The New York Times to be the greatest Sufi singer in the Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi languages, and one of the greatest qawwali singers in history. — Wikipedia.
MIQEDEM – Psalm 23 (Live in Studio) תהילים כ״ג
LAYERS 레이어스 클래식 You Raise Me Up
Mozart: Ave verum | Easter from King’s 2022

With March 2022 nearing its end I travel back…

Twenty years in this case and to an archive lurking on the WayBack Machine of the Sydney Boys High School Communities and ESL site on Angelfire, which later morphed into English, ESL — and more! on WordPress. In the capture for July 2002 is this:

I wonder if that is still where it was then? I am sure the principles will not have changed. To see visit the school site.

Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination

Sydney Boys High School has procedures for dealing with complaints about discrimination against students based on race, sex, marital status, disability (including HIV), age and transgender or homosexuality. These procedures complement the existing Anti-racism Policy and related grievance procedures. The anti-discrimination officer is the first point of contact for any related problems.

The role of Anti-racism contact officer is to help parents, students or staff experiencing problems with racism and to provide interested parents with copies of the relevant Department policies on this issue. The anti-racism contact officer will listen to the problem and, with the relevant executive, find ways to resolve it as quickly as possible.

In my work site of 2002 there is an explanation of the pledge:

This pledge now hangs on the wall in the main entrance foyer of the school.

In 1999 Sam Bush (Year 12 2001) was elected to the NSW Student Representative Council, the highest student body in the state. Sam was representing 22,000 students in the East Sydney Region and was one of 22 members of the State Council.

One of the stated objectives of the Council in 2000 was to fight discrimination in all forms in NSW government high schools. Sam was a member of an action task force which suggested the idea of an Anti-Discrimination Pledge. The plan was adopted by the SRC.

Year 7 2001 all signed the pledge and you may read their signatures on the framed version in the foyer.

We congratulate Sam and Year 7 2001 for carrying out this plan. The very attractive framed copy was designed by Sam and was the first to be completed in a NSW government school. Sam has thus made an extremely significant real and symbolic step towards eliminating racism in our schools.

The SRC in this school, as well as in the state, is still committed to the ideas in this pledge.

Visitors to the school see this pledge in the foyer and many stop to read it. We can all feel proud that it is there, and thankful to Sam, the SRC, and Year 7 2001 for bringing it into being. Let us make sure this spirit never dies.

A reminder to students and all the school family that if they feel they are being discriminated against in any way, they can contact the Principal, the Deputy Principals, Year Advisers, or the Anti-Racist Officer, Mr SC.

[Adapted from an article in High Notes August 17 2001.]

There was a guest book too — a common feature back in 2002! There are a number of dubious entries dating from around 2006, but if you go to 2002 some genuine stuff is preserved. Like this one, from Russell who is now in the USA and a Facebook friend.

And from a year after I had retired an example of how I reacted to bot or fake guest book entries:

And this is kind of interesting — written for Year 7 Parents:

ESL at Sydney Boys High School

Most students at Sydney Boys High School are bilingual-that is, they speak more than one language. Some speak more than two. About forty language and dialect groups are represented in the school. None of this disadvantages students, in fact quite the reverse.

There are some problems that arise, however. If a student has been speaking English for less than five years, it is possible that the academic demands in many subjects will test the depth and variety of the student’s knowledge of English. While it takes six months to a year to acquire conversational English, the average time for higher levels of English is five to eight years. There are also some students who have been speaking English for a longer time but who have stalled at a certain level.

At this school two days per week are allocated for English as a Second Language. In practice, this means that support is best given by gathering accurate information about the students’ background and level of English. This information is made available to classroom teachers, who may themselves be supported by discussion of methods and strategies with the ESL teacher. To gather this information, we test and survey all new students to determine length of time speaking English and level of English and mother-tongue literacy.

Second, the ESL teacher may also work in class with the classroom teacher. This may happen in any subject. Third, some students may be given personal tuition on some aspect of English. We try to avoid disrupting normal classroom work when we do this. Senior students come voluntarily in free periods or after school. Past senior students have shown the benefits of this in marked improvements between Years 11 and the HSC.

Parents: we have found that the best results come from a balanced approach to all the school offers. Participation in extra-curricular activities does not limit a student’s academic achievement. Further, the more opportunity the student has to practise English for all sorts of purposes in all sorts of situations, the better the student’s English will become. Just sitting in class or at a desk at home is not enough, either for life or for academic success.

We plan to have at least one meeting for parents of bilingual students in Term 1. This will give parents an opportunity to raise problems and discuss matters of common interest.

Neil Whitfield 20 November 2001

Class of 2000: L-R Xiang, Mitchell, me, Shanghai Bob, Zhaonan. 2021: Xiang is now a mathematician, Mitchell is a teacher, Bob is a doctor, and I think Zhaonan studied Engineering.