In June 2011 — reflecting on mutability

Yes, a whole decade! Sometimes I can’t believe it! And I have decided to launch this one tonight instead of tomorrow morning…

Lovely day but tinged with sadness

Posted on  by Neil

Today is Trevor Davies’s funeral in Sydney. I didn’t make it, but my thoughts are there. [Trevor was a pillar both of South Sydney Uniting Church and the Labor Party. He was also the begetter and inspirer of the South Sydney Herald.]

I went down to the library, and then to Wollongong City Gallery.

That – linked – is the work of Ian Whittaker. I was impressed.

Also saw Just Imagine 2011 , Agnieszka Golda & Martin Johnson and Maree Faulkner.  Ended up having some good conversation too. Very glad I went.

Then to The Diggers Club. I am growing very fond of this place.


The kid waiter was ‘in training” – his fourth day, he told me.

Diggers has changed since the Golf Club took it over — and not always for the better. I still go there but very rarely eat there nowadays.

Yesterday was an emotional day

Posted on  by Neil

Early train to arrive in Redfern by 9.30 am, then South Sydney Uniting Church. After that a nice time at the Trinity Bar in Surry Hills with Sirdan and B, followed by my first Oxford Street visit for ages – the Oxford and The Shift. Home by 6.30.


Redfern Park 9.30 am


South Sydney Uniting Church: Trevor Davies

‘Today is a day of mourning for us. Our brother and friend, Trevor, is not in his pew. Something’s not right. We feel it in our bodies and spirits. We feel the burden and the void because we have loved, and because we have experienced love. We feel the force of love. We have experienced a genuine, a divine love in our life together – the most humanising thing that can ever happen to us.

And so, in time, we will be all right. I say this with a keen awareness of grief, a personal, private and particular grief that to some extent wants to be alone and quiet. In time, we will be all right. We are being made fully human, and, as we have prayed, human destiny is eternally linked to the divine. Jesus says, “I am committing myself to you”.

Yesterday, I experienced a peace I hadn’t known since hearing of Trevor’s death. I started to believe (faith is always a beginning) that I/we will be all right. That God is love, and that love is inextinguishable. That humanity, that flesh-and-spirit human being, human loving … that Trevor Edward Davies participates in the inextinguishable love that is God, who is God … Language breaks down under the pressure of love – and yet continues to speak, to signify anew …

“And now, sisters and brothers, I must say goodbye. Mend your ways. Encourage one another. Live in harmony and peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones send greetings to you” (2 Corinthians 13:11-13)…”

Looking back ten years from the start of winter 2021 — 1

This is the first of two posts of selections from my June 2011 photo blog. Bur first a memory Facebook has just given me:

1 June 2011

92 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes and 40 seconds smoke free.4645 cigarettes not smoked.$2,976.00 saved.

And not one since!

OK, it appears I went up to Sydney in June 2011, no doubt visiting South Sydney Uniting Church and then going to Surry Hills for a Sunday lunch with Sirdan. Here are some pics from that day. I have taken some also from my other June 2011 archive.

Selfie — the morning train.
From the morning train — Stanwell Park
Redfern Park
A ring-in from April — The Shakespeare in Surry Hills — the most viewed photo in June 2011 though.
Sirdan in The Oxford Hotel
The Oxford

Oh those Bunnies!

My footy tipping at Illawarra Leagues has not been spectacularly successful After the recently completed Round 7 I ranked 96 out of 136 tipsters. I might add that no-one tipped all the winners in Round 7! However, now we have Round 8 and I made a good start last night. So did the South Sydney Rabbitohs, aka The Bunnies, with their seventh win in a row!

Believe those tips at your own risk!

Back in 2013 The Bunnies had special help, but still did not win the Grand Final.


But they did come good the following year! I was spotted at the bus stop in Mount Keira Road at the time.


Ah, what a year that was!

Mind you, many a slip and so on this season — but it is looking good. Next Thursday they are up against the Melbourne Storm and that will prove interesting!

The background to that 2014 win and why it was significant is gone into in my 2014 post.

This is the climax of many a turbulent year since the last time the Bunnies made it – 1971. Roy Masters tells an interesting story. (I took the photo below in Cleveland Street’s “Little Lebanon” just up from The Prophet in July 2010.)

So yes, I lived in Bunnies territory for quite a while, and in the last five years to 2010 wrote a few pieces for the South Sydney Herald, even scoring a front page once!

The Paper (as we all called it) was the brainchild of the late Trevor Davies, a Labor true believer and a pillar of South Sydney Uniting Church, where I was a regular from 2005-2010. I have been back a few times, but not in recent days. There were and are some great people there.

On Facebook the other day I posted a memory I have stored on YouTube. Here is a different day from 2008 — you’ll see which one! Sorry it cuts short but I was just getting used to my camera and was not sure of its battery life!

Five years ago — more worth revisiting

I was on a bit of a roll in April 2016 it seems. Here are two that deserve the light of day again.

Leonie Kramer slept here at “The Bates Motel”

Posted on  by Neil

Yes, this person:


Emeritus Professor Dame Leonie Kramer (1993) – Judy Cassab

This happened probably in 1979 or 1980, though it may have been 1974-1976, as she came down to Wollongong more than once, sometimes on behalf of the Department of Education, sometimes for the South Coast branch of the English Teachers Association (I was secretary or something), and sometimes accompanied by Professor Rob Eagleson. There was an occasion that she stopped overnight and I booked her in to the “Bates Motel” (where I now live) which really was a motel at the time. Back in the day when the Gong looked like this:


I do remember the motel owner asking me if the Professor needed a ground floor unit in case she was a bit feeble, you see! I told Professor Kramer afterwards and she roared with laughter.

Now to recycle Education and early breakfast from September 2005:

My good friend Graham Little actually wrote the 1972 NSW Year 7-10 English Syllabus, the one that allegedly did away with grammar. It did do away with the assessing of knowledge about traditional grammatical terminology, as distinct from assessing what students could actually do. To use an analogy, we continued to assess how well students could walk or run, but did not give them exams on the anatomy of the leg. But it actually encouraged careful study of language, and I, and many others such as Bob Walshe, a very influential thinker in Sydney in the 1970s and 1980s on the teaching of writing, continued to teach the grammar of the sentence as well as the elements of rhetoric. This was in no way a contradiction of the English syllabus of the time. The current 7-10 English Syllabus has made such study mandatory, though using an approach much influenced, and by no means for the worse, by the linguistics of Michael Halliday, and studies in language development and sociolinguistics generally. In other words, the conscientious English teacher really can be much more effective because they are much better informed and their training is much less narrow than it was in my day.

On the other hand, during the 1970s and 1980s I had perfectly amicable relations, and several interesting conversations, with that queen of conservatives Professor Dame Leonie Kramer, who was much more disinterested in her approach than the current ideologues of the right. I can cope with, if not totally endorse:

I have always been interested in, and held views on, politics. My emancipation from left-wing politics was due to Anderson. Later, in England, I became interested in the work of the English conservative philosopher, Michael Oakeshott. I’d describe myself now as a supporter of liberal democracy, but with a definite conservative bias. In more recent years, I have come to appreciate the great importance of free markets, though recognizing that they require a moral and social underpinning that is so woefully lacking in the new Russia.

Question: What, for you, is an ideal society? An ideal university? An ideal philosophy syllabus?

Kramer: I have little sympathy with Utopian thinking, and so have little time for the notion of an ‘ideal society’, very little more time for an ‘ideal university’, and not even much time for ‘an ideal philosophy syllabus’. We start from where we are, hope for improvements, but should remain all the time aware of the law of unintended consequences, sometimes very unwelcome consequences, that so constantly attends the self-conscious attempt to make things better through some plan.

In many ways, of course, the technological triumphs that have been both causes and effects of the theoretical triumphs of the scientific revolution have made Australia and other ‘first world’ countries better places than any societies that previously existed. And the rest of the world has quite reasonable hopes of following in the same track. It is orthodoxy among environmentalists, in particular, to dispute this last point, but this orthodoxy is almost certainly mistaken. (A book for those who do not mind the questioning of conventional wisdom, and are prepared to read a long book, is A Moment in Time, by Gregg Easterbrook, which appeared in 1995. It is not, incidentally, written from a conservative viewpoint, which makes it all the more interesting.)

We can consider what is good in where we are, and hope to extend it, or at least preserve it. We can consider what is bad, and how it might be ameliorated, or at least prevented from getting worse. But we start from where we are. In Utopian thinking about society, we start with where we would like to be, and then consider how we might get there. That way of thinking has regularly led to disaster.

Thinking about universities (and also about schools), I believe that at the present time the thing we should be most anxious to preserve and extend is diversity. Let a hundred flowers bloom (as Chairman Mao deceitfully said). We don’t know very much about education, and have not been helped much by the educationists. Let different universities and different schools follow their own lights, and then we may be able, to some degree, to make an informed judgment of the strengths and weaknesses of various ways of proceeding. This, of course, suggests that the villain here is the state, with its centralizing tendencies and its desire for uniformity.

It is ironic, really, that the current Federal Government has an even stronger centralising tendency than its predecessors, while simultaneously shuffling off responsibility for actually delivering services.

Let’s back our state schools, and look rationally at what they provide, what problems they confront, and how best to improve an already excellent system.

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Back in the day: thanks Rowan Cahill

Related: Reflections, mostly about a chequered teaching career: Part Three (2010), 09 — My Teachers (2007), The HSC English moanings of Miranda… (2007).

Here is a lovely photo of Dame Leonie Kramer with another great Australian with whom she would not have agreed all that often:


That is from the obituary in Honi Soit.

Dame Leonie Kramer was one of the University’s most well known, and controversial figures. For this, she was unapologetic.

Born in Melbourne, she studied at the Presbyterian Ladies’ College and the University of Melbourne. She gained a Doctorate from the University of Oxford and returned to Australia to teach English at the University of Sydney, before being appointed the first female professor of English. The Emeritus Professor of Australian literature at the University, she wrote both the Oxford History and Oxford Anthology of Australian Literature.

Dame Leonie became a household name during her time as Chancellor of the University of Sydney. A figure also deep in Sydney society, Patrick White called her “Killer Kramer” referring to his view that her style of operation was both swift and ruthless. At a later date she received a Tyrannosaurus rex toy “given to her in acknowledgment of her reputation for ferocity”. She did not shy away from this reputation. Other honours included being appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and a Companion of the Order of Australia….

She died on April 20 at Lulworth House, one of the many distinguished Australians to have passed away there in the past few years. Her husband, Harry Kramer, passed away in 1988. She is survived by her daughters, Jocelyn and Hilary and a legacy as one of the University’s most controversial and famous identities.

See also Obituary: Dame Leonie Kramer a celebrated academic and a potent conservative voice.

And Rowan Cahill and I caught up at last with a lunch at Ziggy’s House of Nomms earlier this year.

Just back from East Redfern/Moore Park

Posted on  by Neil

Had dinner with M last night – Cleveland Street’s “Little India”. Stayed overnight at M’s in East Redfern. Been quite a while since I was last there. Here are a couple of memories, as I had no camera this time.


M’s orchid 2009: On a balcony overlooking South Dowling Street.


South Dowling Street from M’s Balcony 2009

I did spot the weird structure taking up an inordinate amount of space in Moore Park. Bloody awful, and useless! See Bridge to nowhere: The plan to give away Moore Park (ABC Radio National 20 March 2016).

Mark Davis: It’s Saturday night at the Sydney Football Stadium, less than an hour before kick off between the Waratahs and the Reds, and the stadium is starting to fill. Thousands of fans are trudging up the hill from Central Station in the CBD, a kilometre away.

To finally get into the ground, fans have to cross here at the intersection of Anzac Parade and Moore Park Road. 400 metres down the road sits a new and rather gigantic pedestrian bridge. But the fans are still crossing here at the lights.

Why choose here and not the bridge as your crossing point?

Man: Because this is a direct line. It’s in the wrong spot.

Mark Davis: It should have been here, if it was a bridge it should have been there.

Man: It’s in the wrong spot. Any dill can work that out. It was always in the wrong spot up there.

Mark Davis: And if you look over there I think there’s a couple of people on that bridge, it’s bizarre…

Tibby Cotter Bridge aerial shot ABC

This month the new stadium scheme came unstuck: Football codes unite against Mike Baird’s plan to build on Sydney Football Stadium site.

And the past five years have seen the light rail go through, which may or may not make more sense of that pedestrian bridge. Michael is currently in the midst of major renovations in his East Redfern unit.

No overhead wires in the tunnel!