Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 44 — yesterday’s Facebook and Twitter gifts!

First, I am still upset about the falling out I mentioned the other day, and concerned that it may be a sign my friend is not coping all that well…. But there is nothing I can do about it. So how appropriate that yesterday morning this should appear on Twitter!

One of the first things I saw on Facebook yesterday morning was a response to an earlier post here — from Rowan Cahill, whose PhD thesis I have been reading, a thesis that very ably fills in much I did not know about his subject, left-wing journalist Rupert Lockwood and the whole milieu behind him.

Neil…and I go back to the 70s when we were school teachers involved in changing education theory and practice from our viewpoint in the classrooms, and at one stage he was one of my editors….today he ruminates and blogs, and he has some words about me & my work that I appreciate greatly…..thanks Neil..

That was nice to see!

Then came a lengthy live-streamed performance and dialogue from that beautiful young Spanish pianist — great-great-great grandson of Franz Liszt — Michael Andreas Haeringer. Uploaded from his home piano in May 2020 when he was still 17, it is 53 minutes — and I did not at first watch it all, but enough to know it really is excellent. Sorry, it can’t be embedded but the link there should find it.

You hear quite a bit from him by way of speech in English and Spanish too. He was celebrating 1,000,000 likes/follows on FB! And he sings — rather well — “Old Town Road” at the end!

He really is very talented, as you would know from earlier occasions in this blog — but also quite a personality. Lately he has been having some issues that require daily physiotherapy. We all wish him well.

Barefoot pianist — I have seen and heard worse! He turns 20 later this month.
You will find him singing the same song — Old Town Road — on Instagram back in 2019. Obviously enjoying himself!

This is the song: “One or more versions of “Old Town Road” have topped the national singles charts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and have charted in the top 10 in various other markets.” I had never heard of it!

In this version he does not sing! Probably better… You can see however where the cover design comes from.

Then distant cousin James Whitfield — very much still in the Picton/Tahmoor area from which my father’s family sprung before my grandfather moved to Shellharbour in the late 19th century — reminded us of what yesterday was. James is a great photographer whose love of his home area is most infectious. He is around my age too — but I have never met him, though it is possible we were both at certain funerals in Picton in the 1950s!

And on that theme FB memories threw this up — a lovely May Gibbs painting:

Finally, and really less important, I did see the final stats for August for this blog:

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 43 — new month, reflecting on age

Being a war baby I am on the home straight….

As are Michael Caton (21 July 1943) and Robert Dessaix (17 February 1944).

“Shirley” Strachan was much younger (2 January 1952) — but he is gone just on twenty years! So a post on Facebook reminded me yesterday. “Twenty years today since the sad passing of Shirl! A good bloke & such an incredible lead singer. Never forgotten. RIP.”

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been reading Robert Dessaix’s lovely book on growing old, The Time of Our Lives (2020). Really savouring it. See also Letting forth late flowers while ‘ineluctably sagging’: Robert Dessaix on ageing well.

His book takes a meandering path, through the grief and joys of his present septuagenarian living. We join Dessaix in the lush garden of the home where his partner’s mother Rita lies in a white room and recedes from her pronoun. With him, we scale the stupas of Borobudur, appreciatively notice the tight shirts of young waiters, dip into Epicurean philosophy at a gay ballroom dance. And we delight in the free-wheeling, wry and enjoyably forthright series of conversations on ageing with Dessaix’s female friends which pattern the book, in which they talk sex, death, religion and sundry. It is in these lively exchanges that ageing well is played out, and some of the book’s richest meaning resides.

Affirms Dessaix, the book isn’t about how to avoid dementia, or how to become a wise and dignified elder. It “is about how my friends are blooming. There are strelitzias on the cover. That’s your clue.”

It is a refreshing, entertaining and singular read. He wrote it, as he usually does, “imagining I was conversing with a friend of mine, a woman I’ve known for thirty years,” he tells me. “She’s fond of me, but not uncritical (that’s vital)… The reader eavesdrops.”


Michael Caton featured in the latest Australian Story on ABC.

JEREMY SIMS, DIRECTOR: Michael has led a long, incredible, boisterous, complicated life. He’s done everything in his power, I would say, to shorten his life. And he’s still with us.

MICHAEL CATON:  I just really notice that I’m losing memory. Vocabulary. You’ve got to work twice as hard as I used to probably three times as hard as I used to, especially if you get a big page of dialogue.

Helen: Michael’s mother lived till 103.

SEPTIMUS CATON, SON: Dad’s getting to that time in life. where every few weeks another one of his mates is gone. another star has blinked out and I think that’s really left dad with I’m going to make the most of the time I have.

Michael Caton

And as for me, this post has had quite a few visits lately: The air-raid siren of Woodleigh.


Last of August 2021 — and a sad note

Usually I post some kind of statistical summary of the month around the last day. Yesterday I did one on Facebook.

And yes, the blog has already hit most views for 2021 — 1,585 this month so far, compared with 1,558 in March, the previous best of 2021. May 2020 still beats both at 1,945. Back in 2014 three months were 2k or better — September, October and December. On averages per day September 2014 is best. This month will definitely go past 1,600.

I am of course writing this the day before it appears in public, giving me the opportunity to update before then — and find typos! The other thing as I write is that in less than an hour the NSW Premier is to give her COVID update. When I posted Sunday’s shocker my cousin Julie, who happens to be a PhD and a health physician in Queensland commented: “Brace yourself for the next few announcements.” And indeed we are!

UPDATE: So yesterday there were 1,290 new cases in NSW. Sunday was 1,218 — and that was a record.

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The photos on this post are of a part of East Redfern where I used to spend much time.

But there is a personal matter I want to raise, without going into detail. If you are one of my FB friends you may have noted a very significant disappearance in my friend list. One that involves some thirty-plus years of my life. No, it is not a death but a falling-out. Sadly, politics, combined with (I suspect) pressure of lockdown, have contributed to this event, which may or may not be permanent. I really hope not. I do know that not being able to travel must have hit him really hard, even if he has been making the best of it.

We shall see.

I was going to say more, but have decided against doing so. The whole thing underlines too the need to listen not only to what someone is saying, but to respond to why they are saying it. That applies both ways. It’s hard.

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But again, if you follow me on Facebook, it is the reason that on Sunday night out of the blue I shared this song:

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 15 — some follow-ups

And followings, you could say. But this series is looking like it could go on forever here in The Gong, and Greater Sydney of course. And I have had toothache and am contemplating what to do about it, given the circumstances. Meanwhile parts of Sydney are to see the ADF (our military) on the streets, as indeed happened during last year’s lockdown. A rare event in our country — well, since convict days anyway… Oh, and the Eureka Stockade…

The military will join NSW police in the areas worst hit by Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak to ensure two million residents are complying with tough NSW government lockdown restrictions.

But people shouldn’t be intimidated by the presence of 300 Australian Defence Force personnel in the streets of western and southwest Sydney, Defence Minister Peter Dutton says.

“I want it to be a message of reassurance that they are helping NSW Police,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Friday.

“We can get ourselves through COVID even more quickly if we’ve got the defence force personnel there helping.”

As NSW braces for new case numbers to top Thursday’s high-water mark of 239, police will begin knocking on doors looking for people in homes other than their own in eight local government areas in the west.

Meanwhile, let’s pause for some fun, thanks to two things I have shared lately here and on Facebook. First that amazing Marsh family in England and their COVID lockdown song parodies. This one I just saw for the first time. I love it!

Then there is that pianist, who happens to be younger than my blogging habit — being born in 2001! He is also on Facebook and Instagram of course. Michael Andreas Haeringer was born on September 26, 2001 in Barcelona. From an early age he developed a great in interest in music. So not yet 20. His parents are German originally, and he is indeed descended from the great Franz Liszt.

In June 2014 he won the first prize of the music competition in Braunschweig, Jugendmusiziert Bundeswettbewerb. He also won the special prize; Europa prize!! and the first prize of piano competition of the Conservatory of Barcelona with receiving the honorary prize on June 27. Michael managed to finish the six year Conservatory course in only four years. In 2016 he received the “Young Virtuoso Award” at the Manhattan Music Competition. In 2018 Michael was the finalist of Got Talent Spain, with his own compositions of soundtracks. Michael has won the Silver Medal at the Berliner International Music Competition 2018, being the youngest pianist of this edition “at the Manhattan Music Competition”. In 2018 Michael was the finalist of Got Talent Spain, with his own movie soundtracks. Michael has won the Silver Medal at the Berliner International Music Competition 2018, being the youngest pianist of this edition.

He’s on OK pianist too!

Franz Liszt’s transcription of Saint Saens Dance Macabre.

And here something completely different!

He also posts his own compositions under the name DJ MAH. This one is from January 2021: “I made Not Really Livin ‘ in lockdown. I dedicate my new song to everyone affected by the Coronavirus.”

It would, finally, be remiss of me not to share this one which he posted on Facebook.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 11 — well, not exactly…

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

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

True. And as The Illawarra Mercury said:

At the weekend there were 102,233 heroes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So to my own immediate issue:

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

But I do miss the club.

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

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

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