Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 22 — Sirdan’s birthday

Now I was invited to the celebration, but he is in New Zealand so that is rather out of the question. However, I rang him on Tuesday and told him of the probability of this post in lieu of my actual presence.

Sirdan was actually born on Hiroshima Day, which makes his birthday easy to remember — and his age. Because yes he was born on 6 August 1945, but obviously not in Japan. Nor Australia. In fact in what was then Rhodesia. Since then he has lived in South Africa, the United Kingdom, quite a bit of his life in New Zealand, then Australia — where he and I were fellow habitues of The Albury — first Sydney then Queensland, and now back in New Zealand.

I think for his birthday I will lend him my personal pianist — by “personal” I mean I follow him on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. He isn’t here at The Bates Motel!

Here he is.

He just happens to be Franz Liszt’s great-great-great-grandson, as you already know if you are a regular here. Is he any good? Well….

He does say that is the hardest piece he has had to learn so far.

I am sure Sirdan appreciates the talents that led me to offer this amazing young pianist as a birthday treat!

Now in my Tuesday conversation I forewarned Sirdan that I had in my blogs much evidence of his birthdays past. I will offer a few pics from some of them, merely identifying place and year.

2011 — At Una’s in Darlinghurst. That was followed by a somewhat alcoholic afternoon at The Green Park of fond memory.
In the Green Park 2011 — still from a video.
Picture 046a
Rosebery 2009 — that’s Michael Xu in the sunnies, and some old guy behind him.
Rosebery 2009
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In Chinese Whispers Surry Hills October 2008 — the month after the birthday

Break for some romantic music from the pianist:

NOTE: If this pops up on a FB video — a new trick of theirs — ignore it: you can play the video, no problem. Does not happen with YouTube.

Speaking of Surry Hills — but this is December 2008
August 2010 — Rosebery

Finally I thought I should highlight Sirdan’s constant companion, from Rosebery (where she had all her legs) to Gympie to now in New Zealand — and still going strong I believe.

Speaking of companions, but not of the canine variety. By an unexpected route there is someone called Robert, who was part of Sirdan’s New Zealand life long before Sirdan ever came to Sydney, who has reappeared and will, it seems, be part of Sirdan’s life again. I was told about it on Tuesday. It is a beautiful if private story — though I do have permission to share this much.

It is probably more than Sirdan would have ever anticipated on returning to New Zealand, and what a birthday gift! 76 ain’t so bad after all…

Happy Birthday!

The pianist will offer some more tunes. I think you will know this one. I asked him to change into something slightly more formal. I mean, ripped jeans are not what you expect in a top concert pianist — even if he is from Barcelona (of German parentage) as this one is. He went a bit far though — changed his hairstyle as well. Typical 19-year-old!

So in February 2011 — ten years ago! — I…

Ended the month rather dramatically! That particular adventure began on 28 February as I smoked my last ever cigarette while waiting for the ambulance which took me to Wollongong Hospital.

March 2011 revisited — 1

Posted on  by Neil

Here’s how it began for me:

And that dominated this blog for the next couple of weeks, though by 9 March I was back home.

Of course that should be 2011…

My then laptop was dying at the end of February, though I had another I called Baby Toshiba which provided the hospital image above. How my dying laptop manifested its departure I managed to capture on video on 27 February:

Remember Windows 7?

There was Christchurch of course — the earthquake. On this day ten years ago I also had a coffee at Diggers with Mr Rabbit, aka Mitchell, a well-remembered Class of 2000 ex-SBHS student, and in 2011 a teacher in Wollongong. An English teacher in fact. Still is, I just confirmed, in the Blue Mountains.

Down to The Gong; coffee at the Diggers

Posted on  by Neil

Called in to the Uniting Church on the Mall. Thought about New Zealand.


Met Mr Rabbit for coffee at The Diggers Club. We were still there for the 4.30 ritual. I have grown to appreciate the ritual; Mr R hadn’t experienced it before.

At RSL Clubs throughout Australia, the Remembrance Silence is a solemn ritual that takes place every night. All lights except a Memorial Flame or an Illuminated Cross are dimmed. Everyone present stands in silence facing the Flame or Cross and the Ode from For the Fallen is recited (usually from a recording).

Originally this ritual took place at 9 pm and it’s still listed that way on the government’s Defence website. However, some RSL Clubs now have it as early as 5 pm (Miranda RSL). No one knows for sure why it was at 9pm. It may be a coincidence, but the BBC went silent at 9 pm during WWII to allow radio listeners to hear the chiming of the bells of Big Ben in London. It was said that the BBC did this as a symbol to free men in the captive nations of the world.

Note: RSL Clubs (Returned & Services League of Australia) are social clubs for returned service personnel. People mistakenly refer to all Service Clubs and Memorial Clubs as RSL Clubs. Only those clubs associated with the RSL should be called RSL Clubs. – source


Mr R was in the SHS Class of 2000 and now teaches English here in The Gong. I passed my academic gown on to him yesterday. It’s almost 50 years old! Nice to know it will continue appreciated for some years to come, and may even appear in a speech night or two…

See, I really am an old reactionary after all!

And the day before I was still thinking about Christchurch and posed a question I would still pose to anyone moaning about this politician or that, or saying they don’t like any of them. Anarchy — no-government government — is not an option.

Natural disasters–what would an anarchist do?

Posted on  by Neil

In every major catastrophe such as that now confronting New Zealand we see images like these.


Now I can’t even begin to imagine what The Anarchist Guide to Natural Disaster Relief and Management would look like. Can anyone? Does this not reveal that anarchism is merely the ultimate pie in the sky, a political philosophy that is, when it comes down to it, no more than self-indulgence stretched to the point of absurdity?

This guy had a go at defending the proposition: In Praise of Anarchy.

This site asks the right questions.

I personally believe that Anarchy is a utopian ideal which cannot be reached. The following questions reflect why I am skeptical of a stateless society.

1) How would a stateless society deal with an invasion by an organized army ?

2) How would a Stateless society deal with famine or plague?

3) How would a stateless society deal with environmental disasters like the recent one involving British Petroleum ?

4) How would a stateless society deal with ethnic/religious/cultural tensions ?

5 ) How would a stateless society deal with natural disasters like hurricanes,tornadoes, etc ?

6) How would a stateless society deal with organized crime ?


Bye-bye Twitter, and Kiwi thoughts….

I rebelled yesterday, chronicling it “live” on Facebook.

16 hours ago: I just had a minor spat on Twitter re ScoMo — a fine example of why one should never answer anyone on Twitter. I have heard drunks in bars offer more considered views….

13 hours ago: I have had it with Twitter. I posted just now: “Such a shame that most of the stuff here is shit that deserved never to be heard outside the toilet where it was muttered. Including this one. Twitter is wank central.” Then added: “As the former US President demonstrated on a daily basis.” And now I am bailing from it forever.

DONE! And I feel cleaner already!

Ibid: I will still blog, and negotiate whatever eccentricities FB throws up — because the friend and relative circle here is precious.

Ibid: You will find that the Twitter sidebar has now gone from my blog. Good riddance!

11 hours ago: The Resident Judge of Port Phillip’s latest book review which is definitely NOT news was however caught by the FB Chopper. I will mention it in an appendix to my next blog post. Similarly anything else that becomes a victim of the current reign of idiocy. UPDATE — shared right here on FB thanks to News Is Back!

That refers to this wonderful work-around shared on her FB by Katy Barnett, Do try it. UPDATE: Seems FB have stymied that. Sad.

UPDATE: I have restored my ability to access Twitter simply so I can read the sane people there! I will be neither Tweeting nor responding. I will just lurk, and occasionally repost or link an item of merit elsewhere.

Meanwhile thoughts turn to New Zealand as it is ten years since the Christchurch Earthquake. I did this post about it at the time. And this:

Tears, fears and prayers for Christchurch

Posted on  by Neil


Then the word Christchurch again dominated the news in 2019.


Posted on  by Neil

No words are adequate. Here is wonderful NZ Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern.

Screenshot (237)

Today YouTube threw up, as it does, this video from Singapore:

Yesterday I had a good phone conversation with my friend Sirdan, now resident in New Zealand. He is still a regular reader of this blog.

A few memories:


Some great things on YouTube

Here are things that have inspired me in the past week. And a surprise at the end for Sirdan in New Zealand…. (Not sure if he YouTubes.)

A powerful poem — it needs careful listening, more than once, but repays the effort:

And these are just nice:

And a walk through Newtown — another of my old haunts. The Newtown Hotel has acquired iron lace!

OK, now Sirdan’s surprise. Perhaps he has seen it already?

Music and natural beauty

I find Andre Rieu, the darling of many a person of my age, more than a touch saccharine. However, I am about to post TWO from his oeuvre! And the first is also Chinese! It is 經典名曲恩里克·托賽里《夜鶯小夜曲》- 安德烈·瑞歐樂團演奏 believe it or not! That is, Enrique Tosselli “Nightingale Serenade” performed by the André Rieu Orchestra.

The second Andre Rieu offering is the unofficial national anthem of New Zealand, with some lovely pics backing it.

Back to China, and the amazing Yellow Mountain, 黄山 Mt Huangshan — an area well known to my friend Michael Xu.  When I first saw paintings like this I thought that can’t be real — but wait until you play the video. It will be the most beautiful thing you see today, even given the beauty of the other two videos.