Planes, boats and…

I’ve decided that there is something in the water in Canberra that has turned both major political parties slightly crackers. The come-back kid, Rudd, has become more right-wing than his political opponents. I concede that it’s a clever ploy, leaving the opposition only two choices: agree with him (anathema!) or become more left-wing. But, if they did that, they would effectively become each other. Labor is acting like the Liberals, forcing the Liberals to act more like Labor. My mind is boggling at the thought! Then Mr Abbott announced that we are facing a National Emergency: refugees keep trying to come here. He wants the army to take charge, to “protect our borders”. Oh for flipping Pete’s sake, Mr A! Seriously? He’s like a modern-day Quasimodo, swinging from the belfry chanting, “The boats! The boats!” I agree we’re facing a National Emergency, but it’s not boat loads of desperate people fleeing terror, torture and death, looking for a safe haven in our beautiful country. It’s the fact that the leaders of this nation have lost all sense of compassion and all sense of perspective. They are so focused on gaining or keeping power by winning the votes of the undecided, that they can’t see past their own towering ambition. I blame Mr Howard. Before the towers fell on 9/11, refugees sometimes came here in leaky boats across the Indian Ocean. We took them in and they quickly became hard-working, grateful members of society. Then the planes hit the buildings and President Bush had to be seen to be doing something. War was declared. We agreed to help. To keep the Australian public supportive of the war, Mr Howard had to bring back the old bogey-man. Why, terrorists could be slipping into our country under the guise of innocent refugees! We’d better lock them all up, out in the desert, behind barbed-wire fences, until we can be sure they’re who they say they are. Let’s ignore the fact that any decent terrorist wouldn’t put himself at risk, sailing across pirate and shark infested waters in a leaky boat. It’s much easier to fly in on tourist visas and then hide out. Indeed, that’s how the majority of our illegal immigrants come here. Do we hear either party suggesting we should ask the Air Force to police our airports and repel all suspicious tourists? No, but Mr A wants the army to “man our borders, to keep the boats out”. I can see it now: army personnel standing shoulder to shoulder along our entire coast line, holding large poles ready to push the boats back out to sea. Of course this would take more people than is currently our entire population. Hmm…how could we build up our numbers? Two choices: more babies and more immigrants. I seriously doubt there’d be many young women these days who’d be willing to have ten or more, children. That only leaves the alternative, as long as they come by plane. The irony is that it was terrorists in planes (not boats) that set this whole madness in motion. Mr Abbott should be pointing at the sky and chanting, “The planes! The planes!” My head hurts....

Read More

Shine, baby, shine.

First, the good news: One of my editorial clients (from the USA) has just signed a publishing contract. I’m so proud of this guy. He has dyslexia, so writing is a real challenge. It’s been a long, long process but finally it’s all going to happen for him. Another writer friend, Rosanne Hawke, has just received an award for her YA novel, The Messenger Bird (UQP; Australia). It’s a beautiful story of love, grief and hope and I hope you can read it soon. I’m proud to call Rosanne my friend and my mentor. Brave Malala spoke to the UN about the right and the need for all children to receive a good education and received a standing ovation. That’s a win for the good guys. So far I haven’t seen any messages of congratulations to the Taliban for shooting this young lady and her friends for going to school. There is still some right-thinking in this world. Now, the bad news: Our Prime Minister has announced a policy re the future treatment of refugees to Australia that has left me reeling. I am utterly appalled by it. I had thought that his political party was the one that championed the rights of the underprivileged, but now…I’m very confused. A talented young man has died due to the poison of heroin. His death made headlines because he was famous. However, he is just one of thousands who die every day due to drugs and alcohol abuse. He lost his parents at a young age and never quite found his way to peace and equilibrium in his life. He mistakenly thought “partying” would dull his pain. The people who make and sell the drugs exploit the suffering of others. They rely on other people’s pain to make money. They’re parasites. Finally, the in-between news: I made the mistake of mentioning to Dr P that I’d had some pain in my hip. As soon as it was out of my mouth, I knew it was probably nothing. I told the doc the conclusion I’d reached but, even so, I spent most of yesterday having a CT scan on my chest and abdomen and a whole body bone scan. The bill =$1074.10. (Don’t you love the 10 cents!) I’m now praying they actually find something, just to make it all worthwhile. But, Wendy, I hear you say, where’s the good in that? Well, a friend gave up her day to sit with me in the hospital in between photo shoots, to keep me company. Her reward: a tuna sandwich in the hospital cafeteria. (I’m the last of the big spenders.) I really appreciated her company as it was a long, long day. But, even more, I felt so blessed to have such a kind friend. The good people in this world are candles shining in the...

Read More

For the Old Boy

Thanks to the monthly dose of ancient Egyptian yesterday, a bout of bronchial asthma and my football team losing – again – I’m feeling lousy. I toyed with staying in bed and forgetting things like feeding the dog, writing the blog and putting out the rubbish. But, it’s the Old Boy’s birthday today. It’s a special one with a zero on the end. (For the next four months we’re going to be the same age, so there’s no way in heck I’m saying what number that is.) In honour of my Toy Boy’s special day I’ve dragged myself out into the cold wintry air, to post this blog for him. (I know; how good am I?!) I put his birthday present and card out on the kitchen table late last night so that he’d get it first thing this morning. He gets up at sparrow-fart on Saturdays due to his obsession with garage sales. (Rex and I usually sleep in.) He’s going straight from the sales to number one daughter’s place. He’s taking her and the two munchkins to the football, and meeting number one son and number one daughter-in-law there at the grounds. (Number one son-in-law is playing in a district side so he’ll miss out.) I won’t see him until they all come back here for tea. We’re buying pizzas. I first met the Old Boy when we were about 11 years old, at my sister’s wedding. (She married his cousin.) I thought he seemed nice but was obviously too young. At that age I was more interested in spotty 14 and 15 year olds. We finally got together during uni days. I have been with him for 2/3 of my life. I don’t regret one second. We’ve travelled together; laughed together; worshipped together; had babies; somehow got them safely through the teen years and into adulthood; mourned together; looked after each other when we were sick, and told each other to “get over it” when it was necessary. Although we both have individual interests that we’re free to enjoy, most of the time we do things together. We prefer it that way. Love is more than a gooey heart-throbbing rush of adrenalin when someone enters the room, although there’s been plenty of that. It’s more than sex, although we’re glad it’s part of the package. It’s more than flowers and chocolates, although there’s never enough of them. It’s trust; friendship; solidarity; fun; warmth; faithfulness; belief; hope; tenderness and a lot of other stuff I’d think of if I felt well. I’m still in love with my husband. He’s my best friend. I would be a gibbering mess without him. Thanks for being born, Jeff. Thanks for asking me to marry you. Thanks for sticking around, when things got bleak and tough, and for believing in a better day to come. I wish you all the happiness you deserve and...

Read More

Have bubbles, will travel

Last night the Old Boy and I enjoyed a delightful evening with friends: fabulous food, little glass of drinky poos and even a little gift each! (Thank you, you-know-who!) They’ve recently returned from a trip to England, France and Greece, with stop-overs in Abu Dhabi and Bangkok on the way home. You’ll be pleased to know that I was not jealous…much. Via the medium of digital photography on computer linked to TV (technological wizardry), we saw a little of what they saw. I’m one of the strange few who actually (really) loves seeing people’s holiday snaps. It’s the only way I’m going to see most of the world and I’m not above living vicariously through other people’s experiences. I figure, the good Lord gave me an imagination and it’d be a waste not to use it. So, in the comfort of their recliner chair, I visited Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, Tintagel, Paris, Athens, Corinth, the oracle at Delphi, Olympia, Santorini and a couple of other Greek Islands. I went on a camel trek into the desert and thought, “Why?” I saw Greek monasteries perched on gigantic boulders, seemingly carved out of the rock, clinging precariously to the very edges of said rock and thought, “Why and how?” I sat with my friends in little cafes and watched them drink Ouzo and thought, “Liquid licorice?  I think not.” I saw the ridiculously tall and oddly-shaped skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi and compared them to the towering cathedrals in Salisbury, St Paul’s and Notre Dame, and  the monumental temples in Greece (including all the Roman ones) and, finally, iconic Stonehenge. And I reflected a little on Australian achievements in the same vein: the big lobster; the giant koala; the big pineapple; the ridiculously big banana… What is it with humanity that we need to build gigantic things? Are we, as a species, so deeply insecure we have to erect giant structures that scream out to the universe, “Notice me! Look at me! I done good.” Why are we obsessed with recreating the Tower of Babel? Is it a neurotic longing for former glory, or an attempt to capture that elusive something that will finally assuage our yearning for self-worth? I think it’s interesting that all the big wigs – the pharaohs, the emperors, the chiefs – felt the need to build a monument of some sort to say, “I was here. I was important. Don’t forget me.” Obviously, it wasn’t enough to be important in their life-time. We’re a vain species; never content to just be. It’s one of our greatest strengths (because it drives us on to invent, to improve, to explore) but it’s also one of our greatest weaknesses. Yes, it’s amazing how reflective and philosophical I can become with the right combination of bubbles, roast lamb, macarons and photographs....

Read More