Blogging the 2010s — 84 — September 2010

As I wrote at the time: “It has been an odd month for this blog, what with my relocation to Wollongong and all that went with that.”

State of play at The Bates Motel

Yesterday Sirdan and Brett hired a van to bring down the boxes labelled “BOX” which now reside generally unopened here in Mount Keira Road.


Today I went back to Surry Hills and oversaw the transfer of about 200 vinyl records plus many boxes of books to the good folk at 2MBS-FM.

Tomorrow I return for coaching, then on Friday/Saturday armed with many garbage bags and cleaning stuff I attack the bomb site that has been home for eighteen years.

Afternoon coffee with Mr Rabbit

At the good coffee shop in the alley.


And very pleasant it was too, hearing his English teacher stories and about his travels, among other things.

Hard to believe I’ve known him ten years now. He really is doing well.

Bloody frogs

So here I am sitting watching the sun making silver the waves breaking on North Beach as I quietly enjoy a skim flat white. Not Surry Hills.

Yesterday afternoon when I got back from Sydney after the final Elizabeth Street day my neighbour, R, a friendly young guy, fed me with sausages, which the other neighbour, P the Poet, was also offered but declined. P is suffering from some terminal illness, it appears.

Last night strange noises kept me awake for a while. I searched my room at the Bates Motel for a source of these weird clickings, to no avail. Eventually I worked out it was frogs outside. Yes, frogs.

Not used to all this Nature. 😉

Sunday in Waterloo and Surry Hills

I spent yesterday in my old haunts, travelling up by express bus since the trains aren’t running because of track work.CIMG4866

At South Sydney Uniting Church some nice words of farewell were  said to me, and I joined birthday celebrations for the amazing Julie McCrossin (left) and Nicole Fleming. That’s Nicole on the right. Naomi, a carer, is in the centre.


After that lunch at The Trinity Bar with Sirdan and P. Then to Central Station for another express bus home.


I sat next to a very nice young man who warned me about half-way into the journey that he was about to vomit, having had the foresight to bring his own plastic  bag for the purpose. When we arrived in Wollongong I congratulated him for vomiting so quietly and discreetly.

Blogging the 2010s — 70 — July 2016

And I take the opportunity to go back to the year my blogging began! Then back to 2016 in the shadow of  terrorist atrocities in France and Munich.

What was I up to in July 2000?

Yes, my blogging can reach back to the year of the Sydney Olympics, thanks to the Internet Archive.

Sunday, July 30, 2000

So this closes the June-July on-line journal! How time flies. Watch for a new journal for August-September starting up soon–and this will cover the Olympic Games. Of course very early there will be another yum-cha, by which time there could be news about PK who is going through a crisis regarding his employment. Guess from, what I can gather, I should welcome Delenio to these pages, and Ali from Turkey–both ICQ friends. Speaking of ICQ it has been good to contact Johnny Wu (coastway on ICQ) by that means, as well as through email…

Remember ICQ?

Thursday July 13, 2000

This Thursday ten years ago is when I first met X. While I was away from my seat at the Albury Hotel that night he came and sat on it. Thus we met, and the rest is history as they say. Thinking about some of the funny times we’ve had. Like him telling me a certain Mandarin expression meant “darling” when in fact it was something very rude and uncomplimentary. Like in the first year we were living together and his English was not of the best: we were sharing with another couple, Philip and Michael, at that time. Philip had prepared a nice dinner, and my friend said “Sorry. Not hungry. Have big lunch and steam bum.” No, he was referring to a yumcha he had been to, not an encounter in a steam bath–or the size of his….

No, it’s really been a good ten years for me.

And tomorrow is…..


The Albury Hotel

Sunday July 16, 2000

Welcome to Jason who reads these pages from the USA.

July 14 was, of course, French National Day. But also someone had something on then: what was it? Oh yes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY (again).

Friday night I took back some poems to J***s at the Albury and we had a really good talk about his marriage, his life, the impact of religion in his life, and many other matters. We were joined by Ian Smith. I noticed a hole appearing in the back of my jeans and as I investigated with my finger, the hole suddenly assumed alarming proportions.

Now before I go on I should say that I normally wear jocks or boxers, but sometimes (never at work or if expecting company) I “hang loose”–partly for comfort, partly to save washing! This night I was hanging loose and soon felt cool night air on my gluteus maximus. Fortunately my sweater could be pulled down.

Well, I left the “sacred site” around 9.30 to 10.00 after 4 beers, but though I had had 3 hours to consume them, I hadn’t eaten yet, so I was a little tipsy. I crossed Oxford Street and ran almost straight into a student (aged about 16) from the school where I work. He greeted me and started telling me about Woodie Allen: I was rather conscious of my (invisible) bare-arsed state and my tipsiness. I did not of course refer to the former, but the latter was apparent, so I asked if he was in the habit of accosting half-pissed teachers in Oxford Street. Being a good-humoured young man, he just smiled and said “Not really!!” Not my first such encounter over the years in Oxford Street I must say.

So I then had a meal (at last) and came home. Last night was very quiet, aside from some rather dark talk here at one point. Downloaded ICQ after first Ian Smith and then my young friend had pointed out its advantages.

On ICQ I am Ninglun Wu only, not the Anglophone version my parents gave me.

Dear me! I had forgotten about that incident!

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Evoking the ghosts of the Albury Hotel: mais où est l’Albury d’antan?

July 1, 2000

Here in Australia we begin the Goods and Services Tax (our Prime Minister’s Big Mission In Life) today: so some goes up, some goes down. Curious: the Australian newspaper this morning cost 5 cents more than the Herald: why? Reading William Dalrymple’s The Age of Kali. Anyway, that gets July started: yumcha tomorrow. Also solved by trial and error, cutting and pasting, a big HTML edit problem on this page 🙂

Munching against the fear of “the other”…

Nothing like a good serve of halal nosh to put things in perspective…

I am very grateful to Jim Belshaw for articulating yesterday what I could not:

A friend commented after the news from Nice and then the attempted Turkey coup: “The news is really all worrying”.

While I have been otherwise preoccupied, the world does seem to have become a darker place. As I write, news is breaking of the attacks in Munich. The story is not yet clear, but it adds to the gloom.

One of the points I have tried to make on this blog from time to time is that we cannot always control events, we can only control our reactions to events…

I opted for train pics instead, as you may already know. But here in The Gong Chris T and I, in the wake of the rise of The Revenant of Oz, had determined we would revisit Samaras and chow down in an act of defiance against fear and idiocy in general, and for the multicultural Australia we truly love. And so we did, more on which in a moment.

First though, it is very depressing to note the poor bloody Hazaras in Afghanistan are copping it again: At least 80 dead, 231 injured as IS claims twin suicide bombing on Hazara protest.

Meanwhile in Europe the Munich shooting is looking stranger than ever. It did occur to me yesterday that it would be odd if an Iranian would do anything Isis-sponsored – a bit like a Presbyterian Ulsterman a few years ago doing a bombing on behalf of the IRA. But how odd it has been may be seen from ABC, the London Daily Telegraph and the Herald:

The gunman who went on a rampage at a shopping centre, leaving nine people dead, had no ties to the Islamic State or other extremist groups. Instead, police believe, he was obsessed with mass killings and may have been mentally ill.

The southern German city’s police chief said investigators had found a trove of electronic data and written materials at the suspect’s home suggesting that he had extensively researched shooting sprees before he went on one of his own on Friday afternoon.

The items recovered included a book by a US academic on school shootings titled “Rampage in the Head: Why Students Kill.”…

Friday’s attack played out on the fifth anniversary of a Norwegian massacre by right-wing extremist Anders Breivik that claimed the lives of 77 people. Andrae said the anniversary “played a role” in the timing of Friday’s attack, given the killer’s apparent obsession with mass murder.

Back to our day in The Gong. To remind you, I posted on 11 July:

One resolution Chris T and I made was to return in the near future to Samaras, the lovely Shiraz no longer serving Saturday lunch. See Halal on Saturday, and revamped venue (June 2015). Why go there? Well, because the food is so good, especially the traditional Lebanese dishes. But there is also the need to do something against the worst of our politics, and against things like Wollongong’s Samaras Restaurant targeted by vandals. That was in May 2016. Chris T doesn’t read the local paper nor watch the WIN news, so he was unaware of that story, and quite shocked when I told him.

Operators of a popular Muslim-owned restaurant in Wollongong say they fear a damaging break-in at the business was targeted.

Vandals forced entry to Corrimal Street’s Samaras Restaurant overnight Wednesday and made off with a small amount of cash.

Staff arrived Thursday morning to find the restaurant deliberately flooded and four electronic tablets – used for bookings, orders and administration –submerged in the overflowing kitchen sink…

“Instead of taking the tablets and selling them – which is easy to do – they’ve actually [destroyed] them.

“Did it happen because these people are sending us a message? Did they target us? No one else was hit, that’s what I don’t understand.”

Wollongong Police are investigating the break and enter, which comes after a high-profile three weeks for Mr Nemer, a well-known pro-diversity campaigner.

He engineered the restaurant’s #illeatwithyou campaign in March 2015, when it became the target of anti-Islamic online abuse.

More recently he spoke out over a vandalism attack at the Unanderra barber shop of a friend, Bilal El Mohamad…

So yesterday we went, anticipating a choice of one of the wonderful platters, so big that we always order “for one” and share it.

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We chose the Beirut Platter. Looking at the Entrees and Side Dishes we had no problem choosing Baba Ghanoush because Samaras do it so well, but there was an item we hadn’t noticed before.

Screenshot - 24_07_2016 , 8_39_17 AM

Yes, “Grandmother’s Olives!” The lovely young woman serving us assured us they were indeed from her very own grandmother, that in fact she had herself helped harvest them at one time. They proved to be delicious, not over salty. There was an enlarged photo on the restaurant wall of said grandmother in her olive grove.

But what they must have seen, perhaps even before that young woman was born. See this photo from 1993:

And this story from that time:

THE tent flap moved suddenly and a deportee in a red track suit crawled across the canvas floor towards us, a transistor radio clasped to his ear. ‘They’ve shot two policemen – two Israelis are dead,’ he shouted. In excitement, delight or despair? ‘They said our deportation was to stop violence and look what they have got – more resistance than ever.’ Word spread quickly in the spring heat that has now swamped the Palestinian encampment at Marj al-Zohour. The Israelis had sealed off the West Bank. Palestinian youths had been wounded by Israeli gunfire in Gaza. It was as if the Israeli-occupied territories lay just across the next hill; which, of course, they do.

From their front line inside Lebanon and from the melting snows high to the east on Golan, the Israelis can watch the 396 Palestinians moving between their tents, surrounded now not by frost and rock but by trees in blossom. Marj al-Zohour – in Arabic, ‘field of flowers’ – is now truly surrounded by carpets of purple and yellow blooms, the Hasbani river chuckling dark blue through its gorge below the tents. But 103 days have taken their toll….

I look back on Grandmother’s Olives now with even more wonder. Is not our world enlarged, even by a meal such as we had yesterday – and halal the lot of it too.  “Reclaiming” Australia = Impoverishing Australia, in my opinion. (See also Reclaiming Australia Persian-style in Wollongong.)

Pretty amazing person too is the owner of Samaras, Omar Nemer. See for example this 2015 story:

Wollongong locals and community leaders dined at Samara’s restaurant in the heart of the city on Tuesday for the #illeatwithyou lunch, as part of a special campaign that strives to ‘reject racism and spread love through food.’ The campaign was initiated after the Muslim-owned restaurant was subjected to racist comments on their social media page, in an attempt to encourage others to “boycott Islamic businesses.”

Samara’s owner Omar Nemer spoke out against the comments, which were mostly against the Halal food market. He explained that much misconception exists over the meaning of Halal foods. “A lot of people think that their food is going to be blessed… going against their beliefs…but Halal simply states that the product doesn’t contain any animal blood, animal fat, any alcohol and certain other ingredients that Muslim people cannot consume.”

However these negative criticisms could not stifle the strong, positive community spirit. From the Uniting Church, People Care, Lifeline, Muslims, local media, and the Police Force, it was inspiring to see such a multitude of guests united by mutual aspirations for peace and patronage…

The accompanying photo rather sums up this post:


  Restaurant owner Omar Nemer and community leader Grahame Gould

And in May this year his sister posted on Facebook:

So proud of my amazing brother for all the good work he is doing in our community.

Yesterday morning I joined him at Warilla High School where he was a guest speaker talking to the students about Advocacy, and the campaigns he has been running to promote acceptance, harmony and positivity in our community.

For those of you who know Omar, you would know that all he wants to do is make a positive change in this world, and you’re doing a great job habibi 🙂

Sorry to note though that the Persian restaurant Shiraz has closed. Chris T and I happened to be going past when they were closing it down. Lovely people, lovely food. See for example On being my own great-grandpa, and Shiraz again.

Blogging the 2010s — 25 — March 2012

Only on the Internet: back to 1954

Had an email the other day from the son of my Year 6 teacher at Sutherland Boys Primary in 1954. He had found 09 — My Teachers in my Ninglun’s Specials archive.

Grade 6 1954

The second principle Andrew Metcalfe and Ann Game derive from their corpus of interviews is:

Good teaching recognises the unique potential of each student. This is not the same as an expectation or a prediction; it is seeing students in their wholeness, as they are now. The teacher’s responsibility is to nurture students and draw out their potential by opening them to new worlds. Thus teaching is inherently ethical, allowing students to find their place in and to contribute to the world.

I would like to name Mister O’Neil, my Year 6 teacher at Sutherland Public School (or Sutherland Boys Primary as it was then, now a “special” school) in 1954, the year of the Royal Visit. I still vividly remember (among other things) going with my maternal grandfather — another inspiring teacher — through the fence and beside the track to wait for the (then) sheer magic of seeing the Royal Train go through, and Mister O’Neil rehearsed us over and over to perform appropriate songs, including a late Vera Lynn called “She’s the Queen of Everyone’s Hearts”, at the Sutherland School of Arts, where my mother won an electric jug in a raffle.

World War II was after all less than ten years before; indeed I was enrolled at Sutherland in 1949. My father had been in the RAAF.

The thing about Mister O’Neil is that he had a class of fifty or so students, all in a portable class room that baked in summer. Hardly any of the boys had shoes. Cast-off bits of military uniform were fashionable; no such thing as a school uniform, or (I may add indelicately) underpants. There were a few quite talented kids in 6A; I was a bit up myself, I’m afraid, because even though I took every August off to have bronchitis, and also that year had mumps followed by orchitis (nasty) and pancreatitis, I still managed to top the class, despite my rather alarming (and continuing) innumeracy. He let us have our heads, really. We produced school newspapers, in which I wrote and illustrated serials that were rather like Biggles, and also devised crossword puzzles. Every Friday we “broadcast” our plays over the school’s PA system.

When I was selected to go to Sydney Boys High my parents were against it, mainly because of the travelling which, combined with my absent-mindedness that led to my once almost being run over at a pedestrian crossing, they felt would not suit me. I guess they were also worried about my health. My mother at that time, I might add, was invalided with a clot in the leg, so I was also cooking dinner every night, following instructions emanating from my mother’s bedroom. She used to say what I cooked for the dogs smelt more appetising than what I made for the family — chops and three veg usually. Can’t go too wrong with that. Well, Mister O’Neil I found one afternoon when I came in from playing with the Dawson boys down the road sitting by my Mum’s bed in earnest conversation. Result: I went to Sydney Boys High. Apparently I had the highest IQ ever recorded at Sutherland Primary to that point… That may not be saying too much, of course, and I certainly found myself a small fish in a big pond at SBHS the following year.

But hats off to Mr O’Neil. Not only was he just a fascinating teacher, but so dedicated. By his complexion I suspect he may have enjoyed the odd bevvie too… At a time when many schools, especially boys schools, were “houses of swinging bamboo”, I can’t recall seeing him actually cane anyone either. I remember him with gratitude. Mind you, I don’t think I ever have quite fulfilled that potential, and at going on 65 it may be a bit late…

You will see the use Michael O’Neil made of my reminiscence on his family site: Edgar Ronald O’Neill (1918-1994) & Sheila Hudson (1919-1948)

Eddie on playground

There he is: Eddie O’Neil, my Year 6 1954 teacher – in 1957

Gives you a good idea of what school in The Shire was like back then too…

Check the dunnies behind him… Yes, pans!

Only on the Internet, eh! What would the chances have been of making this sort of contact before the Net came along?

Blogging the 2010s — 21 — February 2018

And SIXTY years ago I….

How’s that for old?


From Sydney Boys High School. See Found–something from my last year at high school (1959) and Memento mori – another from the Class of 1959.

My History score crashed the following year, thanks to a bad habit of guessing what would be in exam papers… Worked in 58, not in 59. The teacher, Frank Allsopp, used me as an awful warning for several years into the 60s – by which time my History score so recovered at Sydney University that in 1962 I topped Asian History, then an exciting new field. I think I recently saw a death notice for one of the two lecturers in Asian History at that time, Marjorie Jacobs. India was her specialty. The other lecturer was Ian Nish, expert on Japan and China. It was a very good course. See also My Asian Century.

See also 50 years on – 1: a classmate’s story (2009). And in reminiscent vein: 1959 revisitedTrams down Cleveland Street via Memory LaneThe year my voice broke…1957 or MCMLVII and Nobel prize winner’s obituary triggers memories.

Lenny Basser, left, and my good friend Roger Dye far right.

1958 when we were 15 – Roger and I, that is.

I was living in Kirrawee in 1958.


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.

Sundays found me at Sutherland Presbyterian Church, Flora Street Sutherland, where I had recently joined the youth Fellowship.


See Frameworks for belief — 2 – my world 1952 to 1959. A repost and À la recherche du temps perdu — 12 — some churches.


Sutherland Presbyterian Church and manse. I was an elder here  at the age of 21, and Sunday School Superintendent. In the mid 1960s exciting events occurred in this church, the congregation mostly leaving to form the Presbyterian Reformed Church. At that time I resigned. See my 2008 post Uncertain dogma, The Shire, and related musings. See also this search for Calvin.


Five years ago: Quitnet and more

Remembrance Day scraps


When I was 10.


October 1944: see also The real Bluey and Curley: Australian images and idioms in the island campaigns.


I believe the man in the cockpit of the Kittyhawk on the left is my father in Port Moresby. See Temps perdu–Whitfield’s, not Proust’s–1 — 20th century.

From the Illawarra Brewery on Thursday — 1




Such a great place to sit.

The old Quitnet has long gone, though a Facebook group soldiers on.  Helped me a lot. Oh, and you can add five more cigarette-free years!

Ascended the grand staircase

That’s Quitnet-speak for 1,000 cigarette-free days.