A touch of nostalgia — photos I took in October 2008

These come from the photoblog that I started after my friend Sirdan gave me his old digital camera! They are thus from 13 years ago!

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Central Station, Eddy Avenue — SGHS students heading for the trains. Now there are tram lines here!
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Hay and Pitt Street pedestrian crossing
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Jacaranda, East Redfern
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Ward Park, Surry Hills
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A Surry Hills lane
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Moore Park, Sydney Boys High on a cold spring day
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The English staff room, Sydney Boys High. The desk next to this sink was mine at one time!

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 53 — more from 20 years ago

The previous post — which includes the relevant links to the Wayback Machine — extracted from my otherwise vanished blog posts for September and October 2001 items relevant to what we are all remembering at the moment. But there were other items too, some actually quite embarrassing, some fun to look back on. So I thought I would share a few more. So….

Back to 2001!

02 Sep 2001

Spring again and another Yum Cha

Although it is Spring and Father’s Day, it was a bit cool and windy today. A good Yum Cha took place at the East Ocean Restaurant with the Empress (of course), Malcolm, Sirdan, James, PK (with whom I have had some good talks recently), Bob (a rare visitor — not Shanghai Bob!) and myself. It is interesting as this diary has been faithfully kept for the best part of eighteen months to look back at Yum Chas past: last September for example Sydney was gearing up for the Olympics and was just getting into the mood; we had a couple of Olympic visitors at that Yum Cha.


Twenty years ago this month myself, Rob (rest his soul), John Hawke and a couple of others began the young writers’ magazine Neos. (Simon H. was there in the background too.) The magazine went on until 1985, attracting a pretty fair reputation, including one Literature Board Grant and Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Award for services to youth. My mother was particularly proud of that. Funnily, it was also a time when my own life was at a low ebb, but I survived.

It was towards the end of that time that I “came out” at last, and also began my current principal means of employment.

One year ago this week (September 8), I notice I received a small but significant gift, something I always keep in my wallet and treasure. A rather cryptic note in last year’s September Diary marks the occasion. Since then has not disappointed.

09 Sep 2001

Learning from web diaries…and other matters

On my Diary Key page you will find links to three other web diaries. Each of them is there because it is well written, strikes me as honest, and gives me insight on a regular basis. To take two of them. “Lodestar” is a seventeen-year-old American who has just started college and is very articulate about his own journey of self-discovery, sex and intimacy. He is clearly intelligent and at times emotionally fragile; he has already had problems with depression, which I am sure he will ovecome. I read him with pleasure, not as a voyeur, but as a distant, empathetic witness. “Queer Scribbles” (or “Queerscribe”) is an older gay man, though younger than I. He is far more sexually active than I have ever been, but his journal shows him as very self-aware and again strikes me as authentic. His insights are often valuable. If you check his archive you will see what could at first seem tacky, a page where he rates the people he has had sex/relationships with. (Not something I would do–anyway it would be a short page compared with his!) Nonetheless what he says is actually rather interesting and he does seem to me a person I would not mind knowing. I should add that I have told all three diarists that I have linked to them.

Queer Scribe raises the question then (or I imagine he could): OK, yesterday you had all that to say about degrees of intimacy. What about sex? What about just “getting your rocks off”? The short answer is that may or may not be part of a full intimate relationship/friendship. What is true is that sex is never the foundation of an intimate relationship. If a relationship is based on sex alone it will surely fail. Well–in my view that is. Recreational sex between two (or more?) people is necessary for some, it seems, and may happen with a degree of intimacy that never gets past Stage 1! There may be no harm in that if that is all either person wants…and so long as that basic considerations such as safety and mutual respect are in place. (Rape and any other form of exploitation are beyond the pale.)

Never confuse such recreational sex with intimacy, however. It would also appear that seeking relationship–true relationship–through sex could be a disappointing path to take.

You know something? I never knew real intimacy with another human being until I was past 40! A slow learner, me; but there are many paths, and mine has been mine: I know something now of happiness, and the friendship that in a way has inspired these ruminations is one that has brought and brings a large measure of that. I managed to survive all those years without real intimacy, just! It did leave its mark though, but also taught me a lot. Those younger people who have wasted less time than I did, don’t rush to find all your fulfilment in one place or with one person only. You need your experience to be enriched, not narrowed; and yet it is true that the higher levels of intimacy happen rarely and with only a few people. But it is not good for a young person to be tied down too much.

So much could be said: I rather like Stephanie Dowrick’s Intimacy and Solitude (1991; Random House pb 1997). And despite the fact that I am now utterly convinced (and this from a one-time Evangelical Christian) that all sacred texts are of human origin and one of the world’s most dangerous delusions is the belief in inerrant verbal revelations from the Divine, I still cherish First Corinthians 13 in the New Testament as a landmark statement about love.

11 Sep 2001

Thoughts of a survivor: Guest article by Ian Smith, the Dowager Empress of Hong Kong

It is difficult to give advice to any one regarding HIV/AIDS. However here are a few thoughts from a long-term survivor.

Do not panic. This is easy to say, but the best thing you can do, is ignore the virus as much as possible, within reason. If you are on medication, never miss a dose. Always have safe sex to avoid passing the virus to someone else, and keep alcohol and other recreational drugs down. By this I do not mean give everything up, just try cutting down. Think, ‘Do I really need that E tonight?” If you do, take only half, or less. This has the advantage of saving money. It also has the advantage of not damaging your immune system as much.

Explore alternatives. Smart little dinner parties work out a lot cheaper than a night out on the bars, and have the advantage that you can still hear the next morning.

If you can’t cook, learn; I never eat fast food–eating at home is cheaper and more nutritious than fat-laden Maccas etc.

Do not give up working unless you are forced to do so. Possibly the worst thing you can do is go on the Disability Pension, and then sit around in poverty, brooding about your situation. This causes stress, and all the indications are that stress hastens the progress of the disease. Never even think, ‘I have AIDS!” You do not!! You are HIV+.

Coming out as positive is as hard as your original coming out. You will find some people drop you, and others are wonderfully supportive. Choose who you come out to with care; you do not want the news to be all over the scene within five minutes.

Personally, I am totally out. If I meet a new person, and the conversation looks like leading past the bar or club, I disclose. It is easier than getting into bed and saying “by the way, I am positive” then watching them run. Give them the choice of backing out gracefully in the venue; the damage to your self-esteem is far less.

Find other HIV people. It is easy to do, about half of my friends are positive, the rest negative; all are friends.

Never “Out” someone as positive. They might not be as open about their status as you are. Remember, they have trusted you with the knowledge of their status. Do not spread that knowledge around.

Always try to set long-term goals, and meet them. My present long-term goal is to be at Gallipoli for Anzac Day, 2015. My doctor, who thinks I am crazy, says he will be there with me. Start with targets a year or so away and increase the length of time.

Ian Smith passed away at Bundanoon in December 2010.

19 Sep 2001

Free dinner…and some ex-students

I decided to take a break from world affairs (though they still oppress me). Instead, let me tell you that last night there was the Annual Debating Dinner at Moore Park Golf Club, and quite pleasant it was. I learned that in his youth (in the 60s) the Principal had travelled through Kashmir and Afghanistan! It was at the time of the Sino-Indian Border Dispute, which must have been exciting. Was it the Hippy Trail???

Oscar M**** was the distinguished ex-student guest speaker–somewhat amusing: but then so was he, with an interesting tale about the perils of sharing the Honeymoon Suite in a Singapore Hotel with a fellow debater… Sorry, nothing really interesting happened.

I may indeed not be doing Debating next year; it is getting too much for this old Ninglun.

Today I met two of the class of 1995 in Cafe Niki: CR and C: C always looked gay but turned out to be straight; CR was a highly (sorry–is) talented writer, and apparently came out in Year 12–but I didn’t notice. He’s quite cute too. Learned many interesting things about the class of 95.

24 Sep 2001

Holidays coming…but a lot to do

The school term ends this week, and I gather it is mid-semester break at some universities. Year 12 has its farewell assembly on Tuesday; it seems such a short time since the equivalent last year, which was of course a few weeks earlier due to the Olympics. The Olympics! We have had that glorious weather again lately, but such a different feeling this year–but I told myself not to talk about the war today!

The UTS research project at our school climaxes this week, and it will be a full-on day with all the involved students being interviewed on video, with UTS providing a barbecue for them as well. It has been an interesting thing to be involved in. I will need my relaxation time at Cafe Max this afternoon though, even if the company may not be what it has been the last weeks. Mondays at Max has become a bit of an institution and has been for me one of the happiest things about the past month or so. The proprietor turns out to be a most interesting person too.

I have the place to myself for the week, and there is much cleaning up overdue; circumstances such as mismatched working hours and sleeping times for my flatmate and I have made household tasks a little harder to do lately, but now I can make up for it. There is some business to attend to as well.

I saw the Empress and Malcolm yesterday evening–and I do commend the Empress’s guest item on this diary (September 11) if you have not read it yet. Regular readers will be amused to hear how effective the Empress’s curse seems to have been, as the Flinders Hotel ceased trading last Friday, apparently!

Well, people, may this be a week of rest, restoration, reconciliation, love, friendship, healing…all those good things. I think we all need it.

25 Sep 2001

Year 12 Farewell and…twelve months on

In the entry for 24 September I mentioned the UTS research project was coming to a climax, and that yesterday would be a busy day. It was. However, it went well, and a high point was a lunchtime barbecue for the 7F class who were the subjects of the research, food provided by UTS. I also received a nice card and a mug for my efforts.

I did go to Cafe Max afterwards, where I had a good talk with an old teaching colleague, another gay man, Greg. That made the day end rather well.

Today was the Year 12 Assembly. They (at their own choice) changed a few traditions, making the Assembly more dignified but not stuffy. They had also foregone the traditional “muck-up” in favour of fundraising for the Children’s Cancer Research Council by stopping cars on Anzac Parade to collect money. They expected maybe $500 but collected $4500! Finally, they did away with the luncheon (a bit tedious last year?) and had an afternoon garden party in the courtyard of the school for staff, students and parents–a good idea, and the storm held off just long enough.

I could not help remembering how I spent last year’s Farewell Assembly sitting on a log….

The same rite of passage, same school, different year!

I’ll save October for later….

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 32a — revisiting the 2002 HSC

After the previous post had been up for around six hours I rediscovered my July 2002 blog archive on the Wayback Machine!

What follows are sections relevant to the previous post.

I haven’t been able to see Sirdan again since Wednesday [he was in hospital], but plan to at the weekend. If I go to Yum Cha (and I am not sure I will this time–the vibes may not be quite right) I will see him after, or maybe on Saturday.

Term has ended. I am taking on the Year 12 Extension English class for the HSC, following the sudden departure of Ms X amidst some drama. The topic: Post-Modernism! The text left to study is Australian David Williamson’s satire on the subject, Dead White Males (1995), and the class have already done the movie of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (a copy of which I have brought home from school) and John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which I must reread.

Speaking of Post-Modernism, one difference (totally subjective) that strikes me about the two books I mentioned last time is this: while PowerBook and The Monkey’s Mask both are Lesbian/Queer Literature and while both contain quite a lot of sex, in PowerBookthis seems less foregrounded, less strident. PowerBook is just as ideologically committed as The Monkey’s Mask but somehow seems more–how can we say?–relaxed? I am really not sure of my ground here–just impressions. I should add that the verse in The Monkey’s Mask really is quite impressive in the range of voices it can capture–it is a verse novel, remember–and it works well. The story in The Monkey’s Mask is entirely more conventional; PowerBook is a palimpsest, a display of intertextuality, yet absolutely clear in its way. Psychologically and philosophically it is the deeper novel, yet wears this lightly.

I will return to Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady for healing drafts 🙂 Like the reasons for my reading it in the first place, it is a pure pleasure in itself, made more pleasurable by having been shared; there’s no need in my life for more than that level of pleasure and I am lucky to have known it.

A significant note: M cooked up some nice food tonight. You have to know me to know what that means… His life is looking good, and is his–and that is his gain over the past time, some of which has been hard. But I rarely talk about him, as regulars here know.

Friday, July 05, 2002

This rather magnificent photo of the Paris Gay Pride was sent this month by Timur, an OUT friend in England. Amazing how much these guys resemble me! 😉

Sunday, July 14, 2002

The news from Wall Street is all too depressing, along with George W Bush’s possibly not unrelated war plans that are, as he has said several times, “not on my desk” at the moment, being (presumably) under it, or in the next room.

Instead, let us consider Yum Cha. Today we met at the Golden Harbour which definitely has the best mango puddings. The Empress has a lot to do at the moment as his father died last night leaving quite a few tasks to be accomplished by the Empress. Other than myself, there were Lord Bruce and the Little Emperor of Taiwan. Sirdan was not there, and the Crown Prince remained incommunicado, as did Lord Malcolm who only returned to the Southern Kingdom on Friday.

Next, I should say I have been doing a bit of maintenance on my site, and checked all the counters. There are currently 49 pages on the site! The Gateway Page is of course the most popular, with over 4000 hits now. Number two is the Diary Key Page. Here are the rest of the top ten: 3) Links; 4) Gay Main Page; 5) Home; 6) TESOL 7 (Aboriginal Australia); 7) Gallery; 8) Massaging the Asylum Seekers; 9) TESOL 1; 10) Ninglun and the Fundamentalist.


After Yum Cha I was reading the Sunday Telegraph over coffee at the Coffee Roaster, and read with incredulity (the only response surely) this regressive pietistic nonsense from Archbishop Pell. One would have thought shame would have prevented him from waxing so lyrical on this of all subjects; an extract:

With all other Christians, Catholics restrict adoration to God alone. But when I was young, Catholics were criticised for giving too much devotion to Our Lady, a Catholic term for Mary, for being too feminine.*

Today the wheel has turned full circle. Catholics are sometimes alleged to be anti-woman, because of the Catholic decision against the possibility of women priests.

However, we did not come to just visit modern Mexico, the second largest Catholic country in the world, or to visit the ancient Aztec pyramids dating back to a couple of hundred years after Christ at Tenochtitln, then a metropolis about the size of ancient Rome.

We came to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which dates from 1531, only 10 years after the Spanish conquest.

Mary appeared to a young Indian convert, Juan Diego, and left a miraculous image of herself as a young Indian woman on his cloak to convince a properly sceptical bishop.

More than 15 million pilgrims now visit this shrine every year, so that it ranks second only to the Vatican as a Christian pilgrimage centre.

The original rulers, the Aztecs, were a highly developed civilization in trade, mathematics and astronomy. But it was an incredibly cruel society, regularly practising human sacrifice, including child sacrifice, sometimes with thousands of victims.

Conquered local peoples and even Aztec allies joined Hernan Cortez’s party because of this.

The opposite to belief in the one true and good God is often not denial, but fear and pessimism. Mary told Juan Diego that she loved his people and would protect them. They converted in millions to follow her God and her only Son Jesus.

* Nonsense; the Protestant objection is that it is unscriptural and superstitious. Catholics and Protestants were equally sexist, of course, in practice.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Went to the dentist and got a temporary filling and a threat of root canal therapy; so far so good, and I am hoping the antibiotics fix the problem.

M[ichael]. moved today and the big rearrangement is well under way. He’ll be around though.

The Christian Science Monitor has a good reputation as a newspaper. Well worth visiting. I just love this story; good for UNC, I say.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Brynn Hardman was all set to sit back and glide through some Danielle Steel on Atlantic Beach this summer.

Just graduated from high school in Raleigh, N.C., she was looking forward to a bit of light fare before hitting the heavy tomes of freshman year. Instead, the tanned teen is immersed in the curlicue phrasings of what would have been her personal last choice for beachside reading: the Koran.

Ms. Hardman and 3,500 other soon-to-be freshmen at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill have a controversial assignment: to delve into excerpts of a text invoked by the Sept. 11 terrorists. Only two pages into “Approaching the Qur’an,” by Michael Sells, Hardman says the book is “an awful choice.”…

Last week, three students and a conservative Christian organization took their discontent a step further, and filed a lawsuit.

UNC officials say they have not only the prerogative but the responsibility to open students’ eyes to the Muslim religion and culture. Indeed, pundits here on campus say UNC’s experiment should be a call to other institutions to follow suit – for the good of the country.

But critics say this bulwark of liberal thought – a campus where antiwar signs went up even before bombs had begun falling over Afghanistan – has crossed the line by forcing students to read the book.

The controversy simply fuels UNC’s reputation of chief gadfly here, smack in the heart of Baptist country. People with religious objections can opt out by writing an essay explaining why, but they still must attend a group discussion when they arrive in mid-August.

“The question is, what’s the big role of the university here?” says Carl Ernst, the religious-studies professor who recommended the book to a selection committee of faculty, staff, and students.

“[Critics] assume the choice represents advocacy, but we just want to advance knowledge,” he says. “This will not explain the terrorist attacks of last September, but this will be a first step toward understanding something important about Islamic spirituality, and to see its adherents as human beings.”…

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Then comes Change/Storm/Happiness: August 2002

Marcia [head of English 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.

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


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:


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!


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.

–14 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

See on *

07 — a controversy — For the record: the great SBHS race debate of 2002.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 32 — revisiting the 2002 HSC

This began when in seeking some of the underpinning of my attitude to (for example) Marxism I did a search for “grand narratives” and found this rather excellent note. On Facebook I remarked: An excellent explanation. And yes, I am very chary about all “grand narratives”….

That in turn made me think of the HSC Extension English Class I taught at Sydney Boys High from July to the end of 2002 — very much a catch-up exercise for a rather demoralised class. The topic was “Postmodernism” and the texts were Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (or rather the film of it) which I had never read or seen, John Fowles The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which I had read though years before, and David Williamson’s play Dead White Males. To say this was all a challenge is an understatement! The former teacher of the class had been forced through no fault of her own to take early retirement, and I was sent in to plug the hole!

It is bloody marvellous!
We were studying the novel, not this excellent movie…

So I did a lot of work in preparation and decided to harness my still rather new blogging skills for the task. The result may be found on my mothballed English and ESL blog! Workshop 06 — Year 12 Extension 1: pomo 2002. And on results — I should explain first  Extension subjects have four different bands: E4, E3, E2 and E1 — with E4 being the highest band. It represents (converting to %) a performance rated between 90 and 100!

Post HSC Entry:

Hey, congratulations!

Of the eight E4 bands given to SBHS we got 5!

14 of you got 40 or better out of 50!

The state awards for E4 amounted to 15.96% — SBHS attained 13.55%

OUR CLASS attained 22.72%!

I am happy; hope you are too.

Good luck to you all for the future.

Neil Whitfield December 2002

My first entry:

Entry 1


This is a special site for the 2002 HSC English Extension Class studying Post-Modernism. Today I will be putting in basic links for you. Hey, I found all this: so can you! Keep coming back as notes, questions, all manner of stuff will appear here–but not pics, though we may link to some if necessary.

Just for fun: The Post Modern Generator. You too can write meaningless but impressive post modern essays.

Unfortunately that PM Generator no longer exists! See our ABC though: “It’s essentially a website which generates random literary essays which sound good, but are actually complete bollocks. The essays come with sub-headings and plausible looking footnotes.” It was great fun!

All this was being done on the blogging site I then favoured: Diary-X. Well, we know what happened to Diary-X!

Links updated 2006

This is really quite an old site now, but it seems that there is still a demand for it. I put it up on Diary-X for a Year 12 English Extension class (2002) at Sydney Boys High. In February 2006 Diary-X crashed and burned:

February 24, 2006

Dear Friends,

There is no easy way for me to say this. Diary-X has suffered from an unrecoverable drive failure. Due to a combination of issues, the last backup (from December 2004) contained only configuration files and other non-essential files. We do not have any other backups for the site. All journals, user information, forum posts, templates, images, and everything else are all irrecoverably lost…


Stephen Deken

Thanks to Yahoo Search, I was able to recover cached entries.

You may like the “less conventional” practice questions I set for the students.

1. Write a parody script of a mainstream TV sitcom OR lifestyle program. Use character/presenter names and an appropriate program title to cue the reader in. Try to focus your parody on the identity/construct assumptions, or the positioning of the responder, on which the original program relies.

2. Choose a character from one of your set texts. Place this character in a different context, even perhaps one of the other set texts. This need not be a serious piece of writing, but should reflect some of the issues postmodernism characteristically addresses.

3. Write a self-reflective prose piece that aims from the outset to force the responder to confront his/her own cultural constructs.

4. Taking your cue from the use of Shakespeare in Dead White Males, write a dialogue OR a narrative in which one of your own favourite composers from the Western Canon (Dickens? Donne? Homer? Socrates? Sophocles?….but not Shakespeare!) encounters a “disciple” of Postmodernism.

5. Write a series of five short letters (minimum 50 words, maximum 200 words each) to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald from people of various ages, gender and background who are advocates or opponents of the study of Postmodernism in Year 12. Make reference to at least ONE set text in the course of this series.

It turned out to be an extremely pleasing experience, that whole thing! But talk about pressure!

And I see at least one of the members of that class has found same fame since! Meet Phil Lesnie.

Phil Lesnie — I think he is the son of the late Andrew Lesnie, cinematographer. Now a great illustrator of children’s books.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 23 — after Sirdan’s birthday more music

Sirdan loved it! Which was the point after all!

Sirdan and Mitchell — Shakespeare Hotel June 2009
Michael and Sirdan in animated conversation, Chinese Whisper Surry Hills 2010

He loved “my” pianist, particularly the Moonlight Sonata it appears.

This first one appeared on Facebook just last night. Short and maybe showing off — but enjoying himself.

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

Here more seriously is more Beethoven, and the fingers seem to blur…

And here is the complete Emperor Concerto — my all-time favourite — performed in November 2019 by Michael Andreas, just turned 18 that September, with orchestra in Palau de la Música, Barcelona. It is over 38 minutes.

Now a change. Out of sheer nostalgia and pride (not that the achievement is anything to do with me) here are the boys of my old school and workplace: “Divertimento in D Major K. 136, Movement 1 – Allegro” by W. A Mozart, performed by SBHS Senior Strings Ensemble just this year!

Adding one!

Just spotted on FB! Two pieces here — a jazz one which is brilliantly played though the piece itself does not grab me, and then Queen “We Are The Champions!” Now that you have to hear!