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Letters from the dead.

Image result for Very old paintings of women writing a letter.

“I was abandoned on the side of a hill as a baby”.

I suppose I had a kind of reflective, forlorn sound or tone in my voice when I told Jacqui that, as she stopped doing what she was doing, let her hands drop to her side and sympathetically gazed at me…

“Oh…that’s really sad..Were you left there by your parents because you were seen as a weak child and they were testing if you could survive a night in the open fields..like the ancient Pagans would do to a crippled baby ?”

“No!..no!”…I was shocked at her suggestion..though I thought I detected an edge of cynical doubt in her voice..” They were just out on a picnic by the Onkaparinga River and forgot about me when they left to go!…it wasn’t for long..they turned the car around and came back!..”

Jacqui expressed a cynical snort and went back to her work with, I now noticed, an agitated manner..a little annoyed that she had expressed a modicum of unwarranted kindness toward me.

We were sorting through a tippled out box of correspondence to my mother…My mother had passed away six months or so before after a long illness and I was given a big box of these things to sort through and separate. I finally got around to it one Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t long before some of the personal letters from aunts or distant relatives caught my eye.

“Oh…this ones from ‘Aunt Daphne’..in England”..I announced. Jacqui cocked a quizzical eye at me. ”She’s a half-sister of my grandmother..from her father’s second marriage..a bit of a scandal really..she..the new wife.. was his secretary and many years younger than he..” I enlightened…” Daphne’s long dead now, like most of these people here, I imagine ”. I looked down at the spread of letters on the carpet.

I started reading from the letter..

“Dear Tess.” Most of them called my mother ; ‘Tess’…”Dear Tess.. So nice to get your long letter, it is always grand to hear from your distant home. Over here, England is having one of its worst droughts on record now..I suppose those sorts of things are not that unusual out there in Australia..but it makes so much more work to keep the garden going.. we are only permitted to use the hose at certain times of the day. I am enclosing post-cards and pictures which are always nice to have…”

They were great on post-cards in those days..I offered as an explanation..you could take a family photo and get it turned into a post-card…Here she says she got all the snaps of her mother’s when she died and the father came to live with her..”. . . otherwise I would never had got a thing as he hates me…”  crikey!..she continues… ”. . . in fact, he hates all children and never wanted any more and it was only that my mother threatened to leave him that they had me!..” sounds like he was a terrible bloke..I folded the letter and put it back in its envelope. I read the post date on the front..

“That was from nineteen seventy five…that’s a long time ago..she’d be long gone by now.”

“How can a parent hate their child?”…Jaq’s reflected…” . . . throttle them sometimes..certainly..but to actually, physically hate them. . . ?” she shook her head not wanting (nor getting) an answer…She sat back up straight as she read another letter…and then blew out a push of air in disbelief..

“Flamin’ ‘ell!..and I say THAT in shock and surprise…cop a squizz at this letter!”…she pushed my grabbing hand away and proceeded to read from it…

“Dear Mr. Howes..Please accept my deepest sympathy in the sad loss of your dear wife and mother. I was shocked and saddened at her sudden passing, she was a lovely mother devoted to her family and home AND ABOVE ALL (her bold underlining) to her church and teachings. She was a DEVOUT CATHOLIC….”….Wow!..this is really full on Jesus stuff!…Who is it from and to? “

“Giz a look” I took the letter…”oh..it’s to my grandfather after gran died..back in the eighties…I can’t quite make out the surname..but it’s Ellen. S…something..must be one of gran’s fellow parishioners she chummed up with while at church..”..I gave the letter back to Jacqui and she read some more emphasising the underlined words…

“. . . she will REST IN PEACE with her loved ones to AWAIT the SECOND COMING of our BLESSED LORD on the RESURRECTION DAY….” Christ!..the whole letter’s full of it! “ . . . in the BEAUTIFUL COURTS OF HEAVEN, with our Lord and Saviour. He died for us ALL and was hung on a CRUEL CROSS and rose again so that all who believe in HIM will inherit ETERNAL LIFE with HIM in HEAVEN and so what a joy to LOOK FORWARD TO . . . “….oh that’s enough!..I can’t stand it anymore! “ and Jaq’s thrust the letter back into the envelope.

“I don’t know why my mother ended up with that letter, seeing how it was addressed to my grandfather…except that I think he couldn’t read or write very well..or couldn’t be bothered..I remember them having a huge blue one night back when they lived with us for a while…grandpa had wrenched a bottle of ink from gran and they wrestled toward the back door and grandpa broke free and hurled the bottle of ink into the night toward the chook yards, while crying out : “ You and your bloody letters…. ”

Speaking of the devil, I picked up one envelope which had a script in my grandmother’s obvious precise hand-writing..: “Read then BURN!”….I giggled aloud at that instruction as I read it to Jacqui..”It’s a letter from Aunt Harriet, Uncle Kevin’s wife…Gran despised her..said she was like a wrung-out dish cloth…but really gran hated her because she took her son away from her ambitions to see him enter the presbytery as a priest..she never forgave either of them for that and cut uncle Kev’ from her will…not even a mention of his name..pretty vicious.”

“Well, no-one knows how to hate like a good Catholic, I always say..” and Jacqui smiled her cat smile…Her family were from Methodist stock.

“I think it would be telling how much one is respected by the words carved onto one’s tombstone when you die…I recall my grandmother getting more consideration than my grandfather by their children…probably because, in truth , he was a narcissic sort of chap in life..and they paid him back in death. I can recall that when my grandmother died first, on her tombstone there was her name, place and country of birth, children’s names and a short reverence for the Lord and Saviour and that eternal life thingy…but then when grandad passed away a few years later, and was buried on top of her in the same grave (some said it was a terrible burden that having “carried him” all their married life, she now would have to support him into eternity), they simply inscribed on the same headstone under her testimony..:

“Here lies John Howes-loved husband of the above”….and that was it..brilliant , eh?”

Then I pulled a type-written letter from the scattered lot…I unfolded it and perused the contents..

‘Oh, this is an interesting one” I said. “It’s a form-letter from one of the daughters of this old lady my mother did house-cleaning for….It’s notifying every one of the old lady’s death ; ‘Dear friends of Helga Rosen’…and it gives details of the last days of the old lady’s illness, where she died and when she died….of course, my mother knew all about it, as it was she who called the ambulance..”

“Oh..and was the woman a very wealthy lady?” Jacqui asked.

“Well, they weren’t extremely wealthy, but they were comfortably retired…secure middle-class, I would say..My mother worked for her for over twenty-five years..became her confident and close companion…in a mistress – servant kind of way.”

“What…close companion between a middle-class woman and her house-cleaner?..How would you know that?…Were you there?”

I was a bit put out by Jacqui’s doubting tone, seeing as how I was also employed by some of those customers of my mother’s..when they needed a bit of maintenance done about the yard or house…I was a handy sort of young fellow when it was needed..

“So how would I know of the relationship between middle-class women and their poorer cleaners?..I know because my mother was one of those poorer cleaners..for most of her working life…She used to take me with her when I was a child…and she continued way past the time I was a young man, when she then used to take my younger sibling with her…She would tell me the everyday events in the lives of her “Ladies” ..as she used to call them..though she was not a gossip and the women would confide in her to an almost embarrassing depth that sometimes shocked her.

Many of these Ladies were from the professional class that needed a cleaner to keep on top of the housework that their two-bit husbands didn’t do..lazzeroni!..I remember many tales she later related to me when I would visit her as she got older..

I remember her telling me that one wealthy woman from an elite address confessed to her that she made it a point to NEVER pay any account until she had got the third threatening letter just in case the company wrote the bill off as a lost cause..

But most of all, I remember this one here she was devoted to..My mother even near retirement age herself, would walk the two kilometres to the woman’s place on a Monday evening to put her rubbish bin out for the Tuesday pick-up…at no cost..just because she was such a long term client …twenty-five years in fact…and in all that time, I can only recall my mother telling me once in surprise that :

“Oh..I was given an extra dollar for my cleaning at Mrs. Rosen’s on Friday..she pressed it into my hand and whispered (though there is never anyone there but her and myself) that in future I can look forward to that little bit extra…and she patted my hand..”

But she was devoted to that old Mrs. Rosen, a retired professional who “had rooms” somewhere in the city..The husband was a university professor in some faculty..I did know once, but I have forgotten..Anyway, after he died, my mother became almost, from what I could gather, the closest companion of that old Lady…They had a couple of children, also now professional people, but they were never around much ..shades of that Harry Chapin song…what was it? Oh yes! : “Cats in the Cradle”..

As a matter of fact, my mother saved her life a couple of times by climbing through the small (my mother was always a slight build) bathroom window to assist the woman who had collapsed on the floor..

One time, however, when my mother was not there, the woman had a fall and was not found for several days until my mother came to clean her house..She was in critical care in hospital in a bad way..My mother went to visit her a couple of days later and though Mrs. Rosen had her eyes shut, my mother told me she was sure she was aware..

“I sat next to her” she told me  “. . . and said hello and told her I had cleaned the house and attended to the cat and taken out the rubbish bin and whatever..I knew she would have wanted that..and she reached for and held my hand…I could feel she hadn’t long to live and she held my hand so tight..even for the frail little thing she now was . She held my hand so tight..so that when the nurse came in to check on her she saw she had my hand and asked me in a whisper if I was her daughter..it seems that I was her first and only visitor, and her children had not been…and I had to say that no…(and my mother shrugged her shoulders and grimaced somewhat at the thought of the moment) I was her house cleaner..”

So yes…Mrs. Rosen did die and after the funeral and all was settled, the children gave my mother five hundred dollars in recognition of her services for twenty five years…my mother was delightfully surprised. “

Jacqui sat up straight on her tucked-in legs and frowned..

“They’re such a sad lot of letters in the main..all about loss and scandal or missing from action fathers and husbands…isn’t there any cheerful ones we can read?”

I had just that moment happened upon three envelopes bundled together with a rubber-band around them and my mother’s neat hand stating : “Granny Kreiger” on them…I opened one as Jacqui was complaining…I read it and had to laugh..

“Something funny at last!?” Jacqui leant in to me.

“Yes…well, funny in its telling…but just a general whinge from old Granny Krieger when she was in the local hospital getting treated for a re-set broken arm…Here, listen to this bit..:” Jacqui leaned over my arm and nestled into my neck and read silently as I read aloud.

“. . . my arm has not improved much and even after I go to the Fizzo Ferapy treatment it is not better the doctor that has treated me for my arm should go jump in the lake old doctor Drever from Calvery sent me back to this jolly place before I was finished treatment down there now it is nearly my birthday and Im still stuck in  this bloomen place. Well dear I have the wireless on an while I am waiting for Hilda I just heard the Electric and Postal strike is over thank heavens for that wonder what next will be strike all they think about now is bloomen strikes and living off goverment relief a useless lot of robbery going on all over the places like when old man Ziedel got broken in an had Anteek Furnicture stolen….” ……Oh dear…that English really was a trial to those old generations of pioneers…no punctuation or anything…it was no wonder they had a twisted outlook on the world around them…but ah well..I suppose they managed”

I put the letter back in its envelope and consigned it to the “miscellaneous” box..and I had to agree with Jacqui that all these letters were so old now, written between people who were even then quite aged, my mother being one of the younger ones and now she too had passed away at the ripe old age of eighty six years…so all these people were gone too…and after all..who writes real letters anymore, it’s all Skype or email or whatever.

“They are like echos from years ago…the remaining cries of their spirit departing and when I have their letters all sorted and packed away, they will be finally laid to rest I suppose …forgotten…perhaps I should just throw them all back in one big box together and mix them up…all the pages loose and mixed together and then they could “talk” to each other again and again forever and ever…like letters from the dead to the dead..”

“C’mon” I said wearily  “ Time for some afternoon tea.”

Agri-Corp’ Screwing the Murray / Darling Basin Plan.

Image result for Small farm produce growers pics."

 

In light of the current concern about water rights in the Murray Darling Basin, I would like to offer this piece I wrote several years ago on our community Local Action Planning blog about the “perfect storm” existing amongst the smaller “generational farms” along this section where I live on the River. The cause of this concern is because of the creation of mega “Agri-corp’ Managed Investment Schemes” that have sprung up using massive water purchased licences irrigation to grow huge crops of veggies and nuts and fruits.

Many of you would remember the collapse of “Great Southern” and “Timbercorp”, two mega Hedge-Fund / Managed Investment Schemes that bought up huge amounts of water licences along the Murray River. These and other schemes have dominated the water market and by sheer weight of numbers, have corrupted the cycle of produce markets and pricing…and have bumped up the cost of water for irrigation..

I say ; screw Agri-corp’ farming…stuff  Managed Investment Scheme water harvesting and divest ourselves of corporate greed produce….”Act Local…..Forget the global markets!!”…Small is beautiful!

Read on…

Community Centralised Markets.

Discussion Paper on Solutions for Sustainability of a Community.

Listing the realities of farming in the Mid-Murray Council area..:

a) That it is primarily an agricultural constituent…

b) That the agriculture producers are mostly of generational owned small holdings..

c) The imposts of market requirements, restrictions and pricing are more favoured to large holdings, large corporate agri-business and Managed Investment Scheme producers……

The result being the development of a “perfect storm” of squeezed “family farms”, concentration of production to “outside interests” that export their produce, dumped excess commodities resulting in rock-bottom prices for produce and concentration of water allocation licences with corporate agri-business. The result could be a complete loss to the local community of independence in growth and supply of produce from family farming enterprises.

Many might say..: “So what!..let the market decide.”…But it isn’t “the market” deciding…it’s “Fund – Managed” speculators with super capital, super credit and cross-border / cross-seasonal guarantees of profit margins protected against crop-failure by multi-location producers that, being so large and having the capacity to produce so much, they can control the wholesale price of produce by dumping or withdrawing commodities from a market that will eventually be reliant on their capacity….The smaller producer having neither the capacity, flexibility, nor the credit to “ride-out” long-term problems…add to the mix an uncertain climate, and we have that perfect storm mentioned above.

Now also in the mix are the water speculators, buying water on the created open-markets and hoarding or selling it to the highest bidder…which is never the smaller family farmers along the rivers…it is a market dominated by big money, big Agri-Corp producers and backed by a Federal political body that can be traced via a trail of plain, brown-paper bags right back to the “Canberra Bubble” of  politics.

The conundrum facing those many small farmers, is that having only a certain acreage, they can only grow a set amount of produce per acre..there are only so many onions that can be grown in every squ. metre, for instance..and because of their limited collateral with the small acreage, and their incapacity to compete with these mega farms, they are not well received by the banks who already are aware of their asset and growth capacity. So they are locked into a vicious cycle of not having enough land to compete with the agri-corp output. They cannot compete with the wholesale price per kilo of produce marketed by the mega farms and they cannot get credit from a secure source to expand their acreage, nor afford to buy any more water licences for irrigation..a perfect storm.

I spoke to one young couple in such a situation where they lamented borrowing some money just to get their goods to market, which only returned a fraction of the expected price, leaving them to say they would have been better off if they had let the crop rot in the ground.

See this : http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2016-03-13/senate-report-mis-agribusiness-calls-for-protection-for-investor/7242216

http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2009/1413/05-great-southern.html

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/liquid-gold-20100903-14ueu.html

What can we do?

Those mega-producers deliver their products either interstate or ship to ports for export way outside this council area…so they are not affected by local fluctuations, yet do have capacity to affect the viability of local produce with both the rising cost of water and the flow-on pricing control from their mega production capacity….it is the smaller, family owned farms that are at risk and perhaps we can do something there. It is a new idea, building NOT on a cooperative of producers, though they would be good…it is a “market-oriented” proposal that would require a contract between individual parties..no different than the usual “contract to supply” of many businesses…it would require the Mid-Murray Council or any other Local Govt’ to become an “investor in the constituency” to supply locations and under-cover premises where a regular, consistent, semi-permanent stalls (much like the Adelaide Central Market) of local farmers could sell a huge variety of produce to local shoppers….produce such as vegetables, meats and fruit and even cereal grains in either bulk or packaged. Or ..there could be an emphasis on wholesale selling to many local country stores that would save transport time and costs for all parties while delivering fresh produce to local buyers on a more regular basis.

Certainly, it is a bit of a BBQ. stopper….I believe we have the capability to do this… we have to think big…very big! We have quality growers of everything in the lines of veggies’, meats, fruits and cereals…do we have the population of consumers to purchase? The population count of the Riverland / Murraylands area alone could add up to at least sixty or seventy thousand people.. and sure, not all of them will shop at such a market, but ALL of them do eat!…If these “centralised” markets stayed open for say.. three consecutive days each, so that regional smaller stores could stock up on fresh foods without travelling long distances to the city markets..I would think they would be a goer…considering also the weekend tourist flows through the area..if council could obtain State or Federal monies to construct multi-purpose under-cover arenas with appropriate cold-store facilities…then it could be a goer…There could be at least three locations all operating simultaneously over three days, perhaps..one in Blanchetown, one in Sedan and the other in Mannum….the multi-purpose indoor arenas could be hired out on other days for other pursuits, like indoor sports over the hot Summer months..

There is also the need to exclude those mega agri-corp’ growers from such markets to keep the integrity and honesty of the produce to suit local growers and buyers…we do not need the creeping corruption of corporate politics to enter the equation…let them work their floors of big city supermarkets and leave us alone…we do not need them.

Sure, this is a simplistic over-view of possibilities of de-centralising produce supply buying, that would involve cooperation and contractual certainties between council, growers and a willing-to-participate public….but what other choice is there? Just lay back and watch as all these hard-working, quality producing generational farms and families get squeezed out of the industry?… or do we affiliate and come together as a society and instead of ending up with a community that is depreciating and all our young people want to move away from, we become a community that is creating and not only do we get our young people to stay, but we attract more keen people to come to the area because they want to be a part of a growing community.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

The pretence of a “patented education”.

Image result for a wall full of framed degrees and diplomas., pics."

 

It was a repeat of that sensation of isolation that I have experienced before..because myself, coming from a trade background of carpentry/building, where I started as a fourteen year old, so any education I have had has been a hotch-potch of “catch as catch can”…no direct stream down a one-way career diploma…no diploma at all…just a read, work, read some more, work on and so pull the strings together that connect my work education with my various tomes and historical reading education…and I come out in the end as I am now…and you can keep your comments to yourself on THAT situation!

So the repeat of the above sensation was nothing new to me when I started casually talking South Australian history to lunch-table of basically middle-class teachers or business persons..It was an impromptu chat brought about by our current surroundings in the Mallee/Murray River district…and I spoke of what I knew of the early division of lands by the South Australia Company who first “developed” the province of Sth. Aust. I joined in the conversation of certain nomenclature of the streets and districts that were vanity named after so many of those directors of The Company…I then talked a little of George Fife Angas’s “Confidential Clerk” ; Charles Flaxman and the “swifty” he pulled over Angas in regards to the “Special Surveys” in the Barossa Valley……and it was at this point, when I looked to several others at the table that I realised they had not the foggiest idea what I was talking about!…..that “veil of obscurity” fell over their countenance that pulled my conversation up dead…I could see there was no point continuing. My talk of historical miscellany that demanded at least some sort of “dot-joining” comprehension on the subject, was become an unintelligible babble ..and the following inane polite chatter reinforced a correct decision to cease forthwith.

Two misconceptions here that I made…one in thinking that those who had obtained an higher education were, by the fact that it took much time and reading to get that education, reasonably cognisant of their State history of which I was speaking..and;  two..that those who had gained a diploma or degree through the orthodox channels of education would be in the slightest way interested in hearing what they were ignorant of from a self-educated tradesman…..because, of course, the unregulated discourse of spilling the beans of knowledge that comes from the enthusiastic lips of the amateur historian can be recognised straight away by those who have cultivated the idle chatter of a “patented education” that here is an unscholarly, undisciplined mind who has an unmitigated pretence to lecture the cognoscenti.

The mistake we of the working-class have made is to be tricked into confusing education with knowledge…and we have paid dearly for it.

I have had the fortune to witness both sides of the coin of education…once, in my later years when I took time to study my favourite subject of Roman History in a mature entry scheme and the other in my application of the necessities in my trade in building. Of the first, I have written of the experience here..: https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/warming-the-seat-keeping-it-warm/ …..The second was an evolving education over many years that started with the basic trade skills learned through apprenticeship schooling and tradesmen on site…BUT…the difference being that in my trade education, it was not good enough to rest on the laurels of what was taught from text and tongue so many years before, because with the rapid changes of engineering brought about by technological advances of materials used in building, from solid timbers to laminates, from sheet-plywood to pressed-fibre board…from close column short-span capability to vast open-plan buildings, one’s “education” in the art of construction had to be continually upgraded (as in any hands-on professional skill like nursing etc) with both knowledge of technical capability and one’s own use of trade tools to construct with such materials in a new age of building technology….one became master of one’s knowledge…AND alongside that work-experience-knowledge, many like myself also greedily consumed the books of classic literature in our spare time…the consumption of which was not from drear study for diploma, but from a love of the deeper knowledge gleaned within…AND…complimented by our own skill-base knowledge to “join-those-dots” that gave credibility and a pragmatic reality to what we read of those magnificent works. Something of the enthusiasm that in those conversations I have had with the more orthodox educated…those of the patented school of education…that seems to be sadly lacking!

And now, at an advanced age, I have come to realise that I have no emotional connection to those “usurpers of knowledge” ..and I have little enthusiasm left to listen to THEIR waffling…Theirs is all talk..all theory..all impotent inaction…all useless…for here we are so many years down the track and STILL we flounder in work security..in quality of employment, in aged care, health and any number of administrative areas of governance managed by those “higher-learned” managers, that have been slashed and destroyed by those who ought to know better… I have learned from many skilled, aged working people more wisdom of how a society IS constructed…more knowledge from skilled tradespeople how ancient societies were physically constructed and more knowledge of where we must go to revitalise our society to a healthy state from the bleedin’ obvious practicalities of community connections and a trade-skilled base, than I will tolerate from the babbling lectures of a cabal of “educated to imbecility” politicians with all the plastered-on doctorates and degrees that cover the walls of their cocoons of pretentious buffoonery, yet cannot even accept the bleeding obvious on climate change!

Those “suits” of middle-class management professionals have NOTHING to offer us…NOTHING of consequence in the administration of governance or law that we..working-class people cannot draw from our own resources or coupled with honest and sincere professionals to compensate any shortfall in knowing how to enact…and better that we learn…even WITH mistakes.. from judicious application with honest intent than from hard lessons of being short-changed and cheated by that same coterie of middle-class poltroons and swindlers….

As much as it sounds too crazy and a tad too radical, there is nothing for it but for us of the working-classes / producing classes to rip the levers of control of our nation from the reckless, degenerate hands of the middle-class rulers…they have ruined a once good economy and society…and driven so many good people into the pits of despair…so we now have neither community nor secure future..a despair that seems almost impossible to climb out of…they must be stopped.

Away with all pests!

 

 

The predatory grooming of the working-class base.

Image result for George Grosz. Let Those Swim Who Can - The Heavy May Sink! pics"

Sketch by George Grosz..: “Let those swim who can..the heavy may sink.”

 

We have to admit it..particularly to ourselves…WE have been groomed…over a long period of time..we have been groomed by predators to trust and defer political strategy and judgement to a more “higher educated” middle-class…We have been conned by a more cunning and predatory middle-class..and not just from the conservative right-wing of politics, but more damagingly, from our own side of politics..: “The Left”…or I would call it the “so-called Left”…for in reality, like the “House Negro” described so well by Malcolm X, ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf7rsCAfQCo ) who would come behind any radical speaker and “hose-down” the more extreme elements of talk and persuade the “Field Negro” that their best option was to return to work and await better days…HIS preferred option, like the “Middle-class Leftie” of  today’s world, was to maintain a comfortable – to him – status quo….I call these presbyters of social conservatism..”The Status Quo-ers”…the seekers of their own particular “safe harbour” of a comfortable lifestyle…Those purveyors of..if not REAL knowledge, then at least of “know it all”…when in fact they know so little!

Never for them the risk of homelessness…Never for them the risk of predatory work and wage deprivation and the stealing of hard-earned money…Never for them the ache or pain of seeing their children being exploited by unscrupulous merchants taking advantage of their poverty to drive them into dangerous or sexually exploited conditions..These middle-class operators have found their way to the top of their field through the “in-situ network” of “from the cradle to the grave” placements that are the privilege of their class…From the well-established home to the well-funded private school to the sandstone university to the placement in a career best suited to their “little darlings”….

Yes, fellow workers…we have been groomed to accept that these parasites were “looking after our interests”…when all the time they were feathering their own nests…Now..look how sleek, well fed and suited they are!…their hands never calloused or grubby from the touch of filthy toil!..Their bank-balance never fully depleted by desperate bills-to-pay, old cars breaking down…never like so many of us, surviving from pillar to post in jobs hardly fit for a beast of burden and so precariously held that it almost demands the skill of a high-wire act of a circus acrobat or a man on a flying trapeze to hold onto..or an aged/other pension that barely covers one’s arse with respectable cloth.

I have written for and been chastised off so-called “left-wing” blogging sites by those very same “Status Quo-ers” that have claimed their “ruling position” on such sites through the same methods of grooming that predators use all over the world…the same language skills of mimicry of the concerns and politics of fellow bloggers, the same methodology of psychological manipulation and in the end, the same result of securing a coterie of sympathetic acolytes giving support and covering fire to their ministrations…it is pathetic…WE of the working-class have become pathetic in the way we have given over our voting block of power to these parasite opportunists that have fixed themselves onto the body social of the working people of the nation..

I have written several articles describing the methodology of the middle-class use of “language as class-control”..; https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/the-language-of-class-control/

Also on the subject of the tyranny of the middle-classes in our lives..: https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2019/02/25/the-middle-class-a-complete-failure-at-attempted-civil-governance/

We have been talked into inaction and non-aggression against our tormentors. Like the “House Negro”, we have been talked down, allowing our tormentors to continue their cruelty. The difficulty we have is in identifying those collaborators on our side of politics, as they talk the talk of our needs, they walk the paths of our wants, but all the time, they are still members of that same “Network” of the “consciousness of kind” class that has secured them their privileged and trusted positions.

The Right wing has no such scruples of trying to appease the working people, instead relying on a cabal of unscrupulous media publishers and their sycophant employees pushing out a continuous spray of divisive language and divisive accusations against anyone we hold in esteem as representatives of our wants and needs. Their writings little more than the scratchings of a dung-beetle’s tumbling of a ball of shit across a blank page…so indebted with treason to their foreign national employer,  you could place a sixpence face up under a dog turd and STILL they would have to stand on tip-toe and crane their necks to kiss the Queen’s ear.

The Right- wing members of Parliament are a disgusting example of the worst of humanity…theirs is no intellectual reasoning, just the dull-blows to the head of gross brutality and ignorance. To look at them is to look into a pitiless depth of one of Poe’s black pits of despair..truly, you couldn’t print adjectives descriptive enough to describe both their stupidity and ugliness. The LNP members of our Parliament are the prime example of a failure of humanity.

Right…having got THAT off our chest, we must ask ourselves what we must now do..

We have to have more respect for our collective natural intellect..by that I mean the learned experience of our trades or skilled work giving us a “knowing understanding”.. an intelligent knowledge of what is needed and how to get there in the lives and social requirements of our communities. Our habits of work in our jobs has given us insight into the successes and the failings of how to manage such things…While some jobs require habitual application that demands NO variation of deed, many trades and skilled employment demand a continual observation and where required, an improving twist to the job at hand.

It is in this acknowledgement of our natural education and a deeper experience that has given so many of us the intellectual power to “see” into the problems that need to be addressed, after all..good governance is not rocket science, it is dedication to treat with respect the needs of the majority and it is this knowledge  that will take the working-class to the head of power, where we have the right to be!..

And I say ..this “Head of Power” will have to be taken from the “dying hands” of the now impotent and immoral middle-classes. They will not allow us to simply have it…their “consciousness of kind” compatriots in our own representative parties will do their damnest to try to “talk us back to the fields” to “remain in our place” …to not attempt to become that scourge of fascist supremacists..: “The Uppity Nigger”. No..the road to power will have to be taken..we will suffer…suffer badly and it will hurt…badly…but then, if you look at the statistics of how many of our class, regardless of ethnicity or colour..regardless of age, gender or poverty (for none of us are truly wealthy)…you have to admit we are already in the firing line..we are already being killed.

I call on the ACTU to welcome and embrace ALL working people from whatever skills base and recruit them into the appropriate unions FREE OF CHARGE and give them the protection of collective bargaining and collective justice for any wrongs…the cost of such a move could be and I fully anticipate WILL BE amply covered by “crowd-funding” donations whenever a challenge is required against the liars, thieves and killers who conspire to keep us in our place.

Also we have to demand that if a political party wishes to have our vote, wishes to have our backing and moral support, then they must bring more of us into the political tent…regardless of our education status…regardless of lack of degree or qualification…They have to accept the “raw material” of working-class anger and confrontation..They have to accept that it is in the raw aggression of our frustrations and betrayals that we will gladly confront our attackers and in keeping our commitment to the courage and traditions of our nation’s history..we will..as Henry Lawson described the Eureka Stockade warriors..as Ned Kelly did at Glenrowan when BOTH those courageous peoples declared war on the tyrannical ruling aristocracies….so too it has now come to this generation’s duty to DECLARE WAR ON THE RULING MIDDLE-CLASSES…TO bloody the noses of those tyrants that would have us throttled!….Damn their worthless eyes!

 

 

The Arrogance of Power.

Image result for Siege of Glenrowan Inn pics.

A Play..

This is a condensed part of a play that is centred around a well-worked story ; that of  “The Kelly Gang”..But the difference is displayed in the title..I hope to have delved a little at least into what I call ; “An Arrogance of Power”…It is political and social power sometimes held by a charismatic  individual like Kelly , or an Authority of governance…or subordinate officials who aspire to have it.

In Ned Kelly’s case, He possessed it as a natural strength , the Colonial Authorities jealously guarded it as their perceived right , and other minor officials desired it as a personal treasure. In the story of the Kelly uprising, this “arrogance” was played out by several people.

I want to try with this portrayal of Ned Kelly, to elevate the man from what may be called in some quarters ; A “criminal” mythology, to where I think he more rightly deserves to be placed in our Nation’s short but colourful Colonial history..:

That of Heroic Mythology.

Act# 4 Scene :2

….A jail cell Kelly sits on wooden bench…hands clasped, head down, he is musing on his fate a cock crows, Kelly starts!

Kelly- “Hark, the dawn, sweet Christ! dawn.(he places his head in his hands, then raises it to gaze straight toward audience).Dear Lord, give my distress reason, this last moment before sunrise….this last moment of my life on this earth. What dire fate carried me to this end? Where my brothers now…my friends?..Must I face this darkness alone amongst my enemies?..Ah, damn. damn, damn! What humour of the gods threw me to such beasts…is it for the meanest pun that I am cast so? a murderer they call me, yet they have killed more than I.  A thief they call me and still they rob the poor and ignorant ( He stands and paces the cell) Yet, there are many who see such injustices done.. but why was it to me that fell the responsibility to try to correct such injustices?….I who wanted no more than a farm, and a quiet life. What trick of circumstance brought me to these gallows?…No!.. settle your mind, Ned…hark now while there is still time.. go steadily over the facts, for there.is the secret of the rebellion”.

( He sits down, hands apart in front and reflects)

[  Here the stage is divided into two, Ned in his cell on the right,(from the audience’s viewpoint) the Governor, Judge Redmond Barry, superintendent Hare sitting in comfortable chairs, on the left. They are surrounded by all the trappings of their class, they pour themselves glasses of wine from time to time whilst they talk. Their conversation is calm, well constructed and carefully considered. Kelly’s soliloquy is questioning, his answers full of self-doubt till the end where he finally gains the upper- hand., then he becomes calm, self-assured, certain of his conclusion, whilst the others shift about in their chairs, squirming as they become evasive. doubtful….

As each question is put up by Kelly, his side of the stage darkens, the other lights up and his question is answered by one of the three as if they were talking to him and vice-versa.]

Judge Redmond Barry holds out his glass, superintendent Hare starts, quickly servile but clumsily reaches out and fills the glass from a carafe on the table..as he fills, they hear a cock crow..they all turn to a window on the set wall.

Governor: “Dawn..it won’t be long now!”

Sir Red. Barry: “If it were done, best it were done quickly”.

Gov; “No passing regrets, Redmond?”

Sir R.: ‘With each mans’ death I too am diminished.. ha ha! But no, not this time…for Kelly’s crimes shaped his own end eh, Hare’?”

Hare: “Certainly, we had all the evidence..(snorts humourously) if such were needed, for he convicted himself by his intent…and that was clear enough”.

Gov’: “What then the talk of his mother?”

[stage darkens, return to Kelly.]

Kelly:”When the troopers harrassed and arrested my mother,…. did I act too hastily and with too much temper’?”

Sup. Hare.:”Well, to be accurate, the evidence against his mother was a little…thin on the ground (a soft guffaw from the others) to warrant her arrest…but!..we had to create a catalyst to follow through with the suppression of the district radicals.”

Gov’.:” Hear! hear!”( the judge snorts approval)

Kelly:” Did I act in too much haste to avenge the treatment given to my family , and friends?..perhaps I was bold beyond reason?”

Sup’. H.:” Likewise his father and assorted relatives and friends…, we had to make an example of the clan lest their outspoken behaviour be seen as a quality of leadership and so spark rebellion amongst the larger Irish community there in the district. Amongst such clannish people we had little evidence,…but we had power and arms enough to divide and accuse regardless of guilt…it is our right to rule…and the prisons , ours to fill!”

Judge Barry:: “ Tis a pity Kennedy, and his patrol didn’t rid us of the problem early in the piece.”

Gov’..”Being their own kind..you’d have thought they would have been more cunning….set a thief to catch a thief..”

Sup’. H.:” Ah!..they were ambushed…’twas bad luck for them…armed to the teeth they were too….’twas bad luck for us. that!”

(Lights up his pipe).

Kelly.:”Kennedy and his lot…that was an evil day!..for Kennedy was a brave man, the wrath of God be upon me for his death. I’m sure. But then…what were they to expect? Irishmen hunting Irishmen, they could expect nothing but trouble! Those canny bastards always set us against ourselves…divide and rule is the order of the day. “

Sup’ H.:( he draws on his pipe, expels a long breath)” ‘Twas very important to have their own countrymen hunting them, sets the train of doubt and mistrust amongst their community..They have a long memory: the Irish. And a long memory gives rise to a shorter temper!.

(all three laugh).

Gov’.:” He’ll be but a memory in a few short moments!…ha! ha!”

(the gov’ throws his head back to laugh at his own joke…the other two look at eachother and roll their eyes)

Judge Barry.:(taps the tips of his finders together)” Though in the eyes of the Crown…we have achieved the desired effect of suppressing a sedition and or a potential uprising of the rebellious contingent in the community.. there is a mild..mild I reiterate, moral question that begs discussion. eye-eee (ie.) the deliberate setting-up of these people and incidents and subsequent loss of life to achieve the objective…vis-a-vis : the rooting out and extinguishing of seditious elements within the community”

Gov’.:” Deliberate setting- up?”(Gov looks to Sup.Hare).

Sup’.H.:(clears throat)”Well, Sir…er, to be honest….(clears throat again).

Gov’:” Out with it man!”

Kelly; (pacing the cell, stops, turns head to side,ponders) All the circumstances, all the petty infringements of law, the paltry nit-picking and harassment of our clan….(paces floor as he reasons) the Irish agin’ Irish, relative against relative it seems as if there was a more deliberate force at work than mere chance, it seems as if everything fell too, too smoothly into place, as if all the trivial accusations were deliberately set up to “strike at” our family but…no!,no!..surely it couldn’t be so ….. ?

Sup’. H.:” I did have a report from Superintendant Nicholson that, among other people, most strongly recommended the (gazes quickly to Judge Barry) “rooting out” of the Kelly family from the district and to (if I may quote)”send them to Pentridge even on a paltry charge” to take them away from the community and to reduce their influence in the area so, yes Sir, in some ways it was a deliberate “set-up” as Judge Barry mentioned, though I must admit that it did not go always as planned and I think it was our good fortune that there was not a general uprising at the siege of the Glenrowan Inn!..and if they had succeeded in the derailment of the troop train…?(he finishes with a nervous swig of wine)…thank heaven for the schoolmaster”..

Gov’.:”Ah, yes…the spoiler..”

Sup’ H ;”Spoiler, Sir?”

Judge B; “We have our own “spoilers”, Hare…every Jesus has his Judas…” He gulps his wine.

Gov’;” Quite so, quite so….That close, eh?…(Sup Hare nods in silence)Hmm, is this report common knowledge?”

Sup’.H.:” Only to the higher echelons of the department, Sir”.

Gov’.:(stands and begins to pace the floor with hands clasped behind back)”Then keep it such and Nicholson?…good man that, sees deeply into a problem….(pauses, reflects on his statement)..reward him with a promotion(suddenly raises finger) no, wait!..not promotion, money! give him a supplement to his pay..heh!heh!..money is the most subtle gag!…besides, we don’t want a too competent man near the “top” (stops pacing, looks to the others meaningfully)do we?”  (no word from the other two, so he smiles). You know I have received a petition of plea for clemency for Kelly….thirty thousand signatures…(he looks from one to the other, reading their reactions).Yes..(he sighs and sits back down)that is an awful lot of support in the community… of course there is no chance of it happening, as if the Crown can relinquish so firm a grasp on law and order! No, he shall hang as ordained in the courts of justice.” (Gov raises his glass toward Judge Barry).

Kelly.:” But if it was such, if there was a deliberate conspiracy to victimise our family and friends, ….let me think..(counts out on fingers) Me. Mother, Dan, Jim, Joe Byrne, Aaron Sherrit, Jack Lloyd, Bill Skillion, James Quinn. Pat Quinn (stops counting and looks toward audience in a state of shock) all sentenced, all served time…there can be little doubt but that we were hounded into the courts for some covert reason . Damn their eyes that they have played us into an insidious trap! That the authorised government would sink to such depths to isolate and oppress a group of people as an example to the general mass. What twisted frame of mind would seek such notorious security? That it would selectively sacrifice individuals for its own greater comfort. No, it was not I who was the criminal in this escapade. Let the filth of their cunning permeate into the furtherest reaches of their administration, for they will reap just reward for the evil they sow this day (clenches fist in anger).

Judge B.:(swills wine in glass whilst gazing down reflectively)”I fear we have set a precedent with this action that can lead us down a treacherous path,”

Gov.:”How so. Redmond?”

Judge B,:” ‘Tis a fateful pity we picked on such courageous an individual as Edward Kelly, on the surface he would appear “easy-meat” ; poor, uneducated country-bumkin! But there is a natural leader under that impoverished hide that may yet become a beacon to others.”

Gov.:” Come, come,Redmond. You colour us as tyrants and that..that(waves fingers) dirt as a new Brian Boru !”

Judge B.:”You heard him in my courtroom?…You read his “Jerilderie Letter”?

Gov.:” Ravings! my dear man, ravings!”

Judge B.:”To us, yes, for we deem them as such….We dismiss the crude rhetoric as a maniacs rave….but I tell you there was a power in both those “ravings”, a power that came from a deep belief in the injustice of his jailing…of his family’s convictions….of the oppression of his peoples..MY peoples still!..Such a power has its own silent brooding strength within!….we are indeed fortunate if there is not an uprising after dawn today!”

(a silence prevails)

Gov.:(stands and thinks)” Then we must “colour” the man’s last moments.”

Sup’ Hare;.:”How so Your Excellency?”

Gov.:”Why, we shall apply that time-honoured system when dealing with the “honest ” opposition we shall LIE!..lie and dishonour their memory! (pounds fist into palm of other hand)Let the sentence follow its rubric script, only we, (pauses, wags finger) shall darken the language to the pitch of blood! What is left untarnished… let them adore! But I beg you, fellow corpsmen, let it be little or best still…nothing of respectable substance! We hang Kelly as a murderer; let us paint him as more than such! You; Hare, make sure you report his “cowardice” at the hanging, use any language at your command to make an unfavourable impression with our friends of the Press of his last moments….we must start now to nip any sympathy in the bud and we shall use all means available to do it!….”

Kelly ; “And still it was I who took up the challenge to right their criminal intent but Why?…why was it left to me?….many a time gladly would I have given over the reins to another…(softly).Christ too begged release, yet there was none to take it. Likewise my own position….Joe Byrne?…too cavalier….Dan? too young, likewise Steve Hart but of the rest?….like the disciples of Christ: no vision, it would have all frittered away till there was only the cruel oppression left and us rotting in Pentridge goal….No, there was no other to take the initiative….only I (slumps down on bunk, arms limp on lap…slowly looks up to audience, stands, points to audience accusingly) ..and you! you stand by and let me and the likes of us carry the burden of responsibility and pay the price!….what is your part in this history?..(stands transfixed, mouth slightly open, pointing finger lowers slowly softly speaks)..But what am I saying…they are invisible: the silent majority, they do not figure in history, till the suffering attains a greater magnitude, then and only then does the collective whinge become a moan of anguish!..aaaahhh ! (flings arm wide).bugger the lot of them!…it is too late to lament my lot now , I am condemmed to die dishonourably to give cold honour to a cowardly population….well, I’ll give them one thing to think about: at least I’ll die game!…(shouts)I AM NED KELLY…SON OF RED KELLY!…”

Gov.:” I t is nearly time now, superintendant, go and witness Kelly’s “cowardice” and give it favourable report in the daily press”. ( sup’ Hare stands to attn, salutes and departs.)”Good man that (nods after Hare), I must recommend a suitable reward for his services” .

Judge B: “More money, Your Excellency? (Gov is about to sit, stops mid action and gazes questioningly at the judge)….since I’m sure we don’t want too competent a man near the top ” (sips wine innocently)

Gov.: (sits down slowly but comfortably)”I’m sure I can manage my …subordinates….Redmond..yes, more money, never fails (sips wine, sighs) I’ll have to order in another crate of this most enjoyable red, it sits most delightfully on my digestion!”

Judge B.: “It disturbs mine.”

Gov.:” That is because you gulp it down too fast my dear Redmond…I’ve watched you. no! ..don’t deny it, but listen, good wine is money to the blood..as the coins feel reassuring when they jingle in your pocket and you “embrace” them with your fingers before you spend them….So it is with wine, you let it lay a little on the tongue then press it gently against the palate to feel the richness of it’s fruit before you consume..BEFORE you consume, my dear Redmond….then it will not sour your gut!…(looks to the judge and laughs)ha! ha! ha!”

Kelly.:(returns to bench and sits, hands on knees) “Ah well, they destroy me….but I will take some of them with me…for I will be the nemesis of their hatred!…they have “roped ” themselves to me. Now, as I die…so must they..mine is not the only neck that will be gracing the rope !”(places head in hands and sobs gently he then stops, looks up) Mother… please give me strength to die like a Kelly.”

Judge B.:(taps fingertips together as he speaks) “Of course all this damn drama has risen out of the selectors’ poverty. There is such a thing as too much poverty, Gov’, I see it before my bench continually…”

Gov.:”….and where there is poverty there is crime…”

Judge B.: “And where there is wealth, I contritely add : Is there not greater crime ?”

Gov.: “Ahh! but that “crime” is affiliated, my dear Redmond , affiliated ”

Judge B.: “And we, I take it, are all shareholders?”

Gov.:(stands up abruptly, looks to the judge) “Yes, by God!, that or poverty!…I leave you choose the more favourable….(lowers voice)but come , Redmond, I didn’t make the rules, I am only a caretaker and I too must answer to a greater power….well aware am I that the substance of the poor always goes to enrich the wealthy (hunches shoulders appealingly)but what would you?…Those of us who pull the levers of Authority know only too well the tenuous hold we have on that power..and we know only too well that we rule not on our own strength..for what really are you Redmond , or I, if challenged to arms…but through the obedient strength of those we command..those we own…and if they but knew what we know…So, dear Redmond..Let us be thankful we are only hanging one man, not a whole class!”

Judge B.:”(drains glass with a wince)Pray we are not , in the long run, hanging ourselves!”

( stands to leave.) stage darkens.

Exit scene.

The complete play can be read here..: https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/an-arrogance-of-power/

 

Ted and Edie dance the Rumba.

Related image

 

“I saw it happen an’ that’s how I knows it…and I know why it happened..an’ I’m sorry it didn’t happen a long time ago, back when they could’ve made something with it.” Swertzy took a drag on his cigarette again and settled into the chair outside the Sedan Post Office and reflected on times past..his portly frame shifted to ease the rheumatic pain in his hip.

Heinie Schwertzferger explained..

“Ted and I first learned proper dancing with old Mrs Harris, who used to give dance classes in her home back in the fifties..over there in Towitta..when Ted and I were young blades..She would move the lounge table to one side and crank up the old gramophone player and she and her hubby would teach a group of us locals how to dance real proper like…you know..the Fox-trot, Military Two Step…those old ballroom dances of the day..”

“ A few of us young blokes went there because there was a lot of old-style dances in those days or when the rock and roll came along, there were those 60/40 type dances and we wanted to meet and dance with girls…none of us being that suave with the ladies..save Johnny Hocking….he was a goer..but “Rosie”..Ted Rosenswietz and I..well, we just weren’t in the game..so we learned how to dance with Mrs. Harris..and learned darn good too!…oh, she was a good teacher…so that when we went to those dances held in the Sedan Hall by Gladys and Johan Herbig, she …Gladys, said that there wasn’t anything she could teach us and that we were just swell at dancing..”

“But she could show us a new dance…The Rumba..”

Heinie took a draw on his ciggy and stared into the distance as he deliberated on his thoughts..

“I wasn’t that good at the rumba, the movements were a tad too quick for me..’specially the turn and stepping back..I was a bit clumsy in that movement..but Ted and his dance partner, Edith Bentley were a perfect match..they moved as one, joined by a kind of tied cord through their arms and hands..they were very good..but they were at their best when they danced the rumba to that then new Roy Orbison song..: “In Dreams”…they’d look into each other’s eyes and sweep around that floor like they were floating on a cloud..they were so good.”

“Every month, the Herbigs would have a dance at the Sedan Hall, and every month, Ted and Edie would do a centre of the floor demonstration of the perfect rumba..and you couldn’t help but give them the applause they deserved at the end..they were good…they were so good.”

“Well, after dancing together so long, it was no surprise that Ted took a shine to Edie in a serious way…and he confided to me and Edie’s brother one afternoon in the hotel, that he had honourable intentions to ask for Edie to become engaged to him at the next dance…and he smiled the smile of a happy man..”

“He didn’t say any more on the subject, but you can bet that Edie’s brother told his mother that same week of Teds intentions…now, while the war had ended a long time ago, there still lingered that undertone of distrust between the Anglo community and the German community…things had not yet got back to any sort of normalicy…after all , it was only just a recent memory as far as memories go..”

“Well, that next dance, Ted shows up in his best clothes..his only suit, he has his high polish Roaul Merton dance shoes on and a bright red rose in his lapel that he had plucked from Mrs. Auright’s front garden on his way to the dance…He’s standing there over the one side of the hall, and Edie is sitting with her mother over the other side of the hall…they only have eyes for each other..Ted smiles his biggest smile and walks across the dance floor to stand in front of Edie, who now has a pinched lips look on her face…a worried look…Ted reaches out his hand and requests her hand for the next dance…

Ted had arranged that the music for that dance would be their favourite rumba number..yes..Roy Orbison..”In Dreams”…they would face each other in those first opening lines where he says..; “That candy coloured clown they call the sand man…” ..they would get set ‘in the square’ as they say and then move on from there when the song starts…” I close my eyes and I drift away..” Well, there Ted is in all his glory…and Edie hesitates, looks to her mother, who does not say a word..not-a-word..does not even look at Ted or Edie, but just stares straight ahead into the hall and then firmly places her hand on Edie’s forearm and holds it in her grip..stopping Edie from reaching to Ted’s outstretched hand..and there it stood for a greater time than can be measured in a moment…it was to be an eternity…for with that one mute gesture, Mrs. Mavis Bentley had asserted her parental authority upon the desires of the younger couple and in effect cancelled any wish of Ted to “pop the question” to Edie….the dance partnership was over…and as they remained there in silence, that song played mockingly out over the hall….;

“in dreams I walk with you….

in dreams you’re mine….

in beautiful dreams…” ….

Ted stepped back, stood tall gave a measured bow of his head and without a word, walked out of the hall..”

“The Bentleys moved from the district to the city not many months after that incident, Ted never went back to the dances, eventually he married a lass from Angaston and settled down to a farming life..But it was a doomed marriage in the long run and he ended up growing old alone..”

“And now there they were, fifty years later… Ted dressed to his best, his resurrected Raoul Merton dance shoes polished to a dazzling shine…though he was no longer the strapping young man that he was…indeed, you could say that time had worked its measure on his body, for he walked with a limp now..and there was Edie again, after so many years there at this celebratory “Olde time dance” for the anniversary of the Sedan Hall, there with her grand-children…and she herself was also what we would call time-worn through the usual burdens of life and children…no longer the lithe maiden that Ted swept around the dance floor in his arms…herself now a widow…and there they were, again with only eyes for each other…not in a romantic way, but now rather more in a “I dare you” way. A cheeky smile played on both their lips as they held each other’s stare.

Ted had once again plucked a rose from the front yard of ..the now deceased..Mrs. Auright’s place and he had arranged that the disc-jockey put on that now very old song of Roy Orbison..: “In Dreams”…he stepped out onto the dance floor just as the first chords of the song were played…and with his eyes as a querying gesture and his hand outstretched toward Edie, he raised his eyebrows questioningly…Edie accepted his request..”

They squared up to each other as those first words were spoken by the Big “O’..:

“That candied coloured clown they call the sand-man,

Tiptoes to my room every night,

Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper…

Go to sleep, everything’s alright….”

“I close my eyes….” The Big ‘O’ sang….

“And off they went into that rumba…like they had just left off yesterday some fifty years ago..not a movement out of step, not a turn fumbled for lack of practice or usual companionship..not even a sign of that limp that so bedevilled Ted for all these years and Edie’s hip showed not the least sign of slip or hindrance as they moved from hand to hand, half or double turn…in step with old Roy ‘O’s beautiful lyrics…;

“In Dreams I walk with you….- four-one two three..

In dreams I talk to you…- turn, fan…alemana…

In dreams you’re mine…all of the time…-forward walk..hockey-stick, touch..

We’re together…in dreams..in dreams..-spot turn..again single…then double..

Oh they were good..just so good…and that rumba was made for Roy Orbison’s song…a perfect match…and every one else on that dance floor had stopped dancing and stepped away to gaze stupefied at this lovely old couple sweeping up and down the dance floor, movement upon movement in exact and beautiful synchrony…no!…they were not old, they were alive with their own youthful vigour!

Turn and step forward and backward…hand high to hand alemana and fan then cucaracha….

like a young couple fresh from a dance class of the sixties…as indeed they were in their heads and hearts…their eyes glued to each other, their hands and bodies not just touching, but finger-tip caressing with the touch of young lovers all over again…

shoulder to shoulder… the song continued..

“But just before the dawn, I awake to find you gone….”

side to side…alemana, in and out four, one two three four…

“I remember-when you said-goodbye..

It’s too bad that all these things..”

And on they danced to the end ..till those last notes and words from the Big ‘O’ finished the dance..:

“And I’ll be happy in my dreams…

only in dreams…

in beautiful dreams…”

They finished with a beautifully executed hand to hand turn to end up facing each other “in the square” as they started…there was complete silence in the hall…their dance was beyond compliment of mere applause, for this was the completion of their relationship that started so long ago, only to be interrupted by the tyrannical hand of social expectation…but with this dance they had completed their obligation of their love affair to themselves and each other..there was no more needed to be said…indeed, they were deaf and blind to all around them…

Ted dropped his hands to his side, bowed his head in a measured way and said.:

“Thank you, Edie”.

To which Edith Bentley smiled coquettishly, blushed and replied…

“Thank YOU, Ted.”

“Edie turned and walked back to where her grandchildren sat open mouthed and Ted walked proud and without limp to the door-way and out of the hall.”

Swertzy stubbed out his cigarette in the aluminium ash tray on the table and finished with..;

“I saw it happen and that’s how I knows it…an’ I’ll say again..it’s a pity it didn’t happen that way a long time ago when they could’a made something with it….but that’s life..”

[ Roy Orbison ; “In Dreams” ….  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ-F80NYwn0 ]

 

 

The Tancredi Dilemma.

Image result for The Leopard novel..pics.

 

Tancredi is a character in the Lampedusa novel (The Leopard) about the unification of Italy and the ending of aristocratic governance in Southern Italy … and it was this character who uttered that most famous of lines .. ; “For things to remain the same, everything must change.” … Of course, HE was referring to the aristocratic rulers inserting covert agents like himself into democratic government so as to keep a hold on any revolutionary changes that would lessen the power (as much as possible) of the ruling class .. of which he was one.

The end of the nineteenth century saw the diminishing of aristocratic power in favour of the rising middle-class political base .. just like now, in the twenty-first century, we are seeing that now old/aged middle-class of high industry/banking losing ground to a rising aspirant/younger middle-class of brash technocrats and entrepreneurs, not necessarily savvy in the complex ‘rules” of patriarchal network, military engagements and old-money finance, but more keen on flash finance, fast turnover and short, swift credit transfers based more on the theory of gambler’s luck than a book-keepers reliable ledger account.

Chance of a quick “killing” being the modus operandi of the next generation of players!

And this is where the Tancredi Dilemma becomes interesting … for in the first instance above, the middle-classes that replaced the aristocrats were solid merchants, with investments in solid goods … products from the far east, trading ships and barges up and down the major rivers of the world .. the spices and silks .. the ivory and slaves, manchester and machinery formed the base of their massive accumulated wealth … they were well-placed to challenge the decadent aristocratic class for the top job of sovereign governance … all it took was a wave of the royal sword of knighthood to “legitimise” a swathe of the more wealthy or devious of the crew and they were cemented into the “network”.

Now, as this network gets old and decrepit in a generational sense, we see a new set of eyes peering through the glass darkly, hungry for a grab at that sovereign governance … but these new eyes are not as political savvy as the old hands … not as patient to wait for the royal dab with the Wilkinson Sword of knighthood … these new kids on the block are brash, aggressive bastards who are breaking the panelled doors down with mace and sledge-hammer … vulgar is not strong enough a word to describe them … barbarian is closer to the truth .. the Visigoths at the gates of Rome ..

How is this new breed of “Bankers on Credit”, “Merchants of internet selling” going to manage the social structures needed to keep a society stable and conducive to good, predictable, long-term governance … in short … they cannot! …. Their failing at even the most simple social programs that we see falling to pieces around us as we go about our work, child-care, health, transport and play demonstrates a cabal of wannaby “leaders” who couldn’t lead a blind man down a wide, empty boulevard without tripping on every slight obstacle in their path .. they themselves being blind and ignorant beyond comprehension.

Since the end of the generations that saw Keating pass the baton to Howard, who in his own mean-spirited way did a “Tiberius” and prepared a “Satyr” for the people of Australia with his paving the way for a far right infection into the LNP that even HE couldn’t see the damage he was inflicting, there has been an endless stream of younger blunt-weaponised LNP members fumbling around The House and the authorities, corrupting without thought on the consequences, every authority, every bureaucracy and oversight office so that now we have no confidence .. and rightly so! … in any judgement brought down on any investigation of possible departmental fraud or high political office corruption … the individualistic operations of many members of the parliament to feather their own nests or those of their backers has totally corrupted the system … so that even our voting system, once the yardstick of safe, secure and fair elections copied around the world, is now tainted with an air of doubt .. if not absolute distrust and scorn!

Even those of us on the left of politics have had to watch unbelieving as we see our representatives go to water in the face of right-wing wedging and bluff … their fear of a MSMedia attack on their persons driving them to shelter and hide .. Their now plump and shiny selves, from the largesse of many years in office losing that “lean and hungry look” so necessary in a political animal needed to shift the corpulent carcass of LNP dead-weights so welded to their seats.

The Tancredi Dilemma is needed again to have the middle-class burn some of its own … be that middle-class of the left or the right, they have to waste some of the dead-wood and decrepit stooges laying like rotting logs across the path … The new middle-class of responsible/reliable IT techies and self-employed tradies have to wade into the fray and with metaphorical laser and hammer carve and smash away those who would never want change … and it has to be done soon and with extreme prejudice before we all burn in our beds from a destroyed environment!

For things to remain the same … ie; the “ruling bodies” to hold position of power in the parliament with orthodox structures securing their authority … everything must now change .. just as Rome had to fall so that Europe could rise,the dinosaurs in our politics must “die”.

A Ukulele Opera…Act #3.

Image result for Two lovers embracing.

 

Enrico and Rosaline.

Joe, the narrator tells of Enrico’s story..:

“You see, he had only just landed at Outer Harbour in the year of 1939 when he was immediately informed that being an “enemy alien”, of Italian extraction he would be interned…but the company he gained work with as a stone-mason/bricklayer gave him a choice..; He could be interned with the rest of the Italians in the Riverland, or he could go to Darwin to do work that the company had contracts for there on the hospital and the wharfs…He chose the latter…but then when he was working there, Darwin got bombed by the Japanese and he had to make his way back down the centre to here with us other Italians.. as fate would have it…

“Guiseppi!…how would your luck be” Enrico exclaimed to me when he got here, “ I leave Italy to get away from Mussolini, and then I come here to get bombed out by Tojo!….where does one go for a bit of peace in this world?”

Anyway…here he was and here he would stay….at least for the duration…and ..like the rest of us, he wasn’t very happy with the option.”

Joe, the narrator continues..He reads from a sheet of paper….

“Now at last I am free!

Off through the scrub I run

Where sheep tracks only are seen

Nothing but bush and sun

Till all of a sudden I come

Out where an axe swings free.

Cutting, for love and money

The axe bites deep in a tree…”

“A passing moment does not a lifetime make, but a moment’s passion can be a lifetime’s mistake….or..good fortune.  A life brought into being by the strangest union in the most unusual chances and circumstances one could imagine. He from the north of Italy, in the Dolomites, she from the ‘heartbreak country’ of the Murray Mallee in Australia..

They met on the banks of the Murray River, Enrico and Rosaline. He there to collect a truck-load of water for the camp, she on an evening ambulation from Portee Station where she worked as a servant girl.

He being able to speak barely a word of English, she not being able to understand a single word of Italian..But they met and exchanged pleasantries as only such ethnically diverse  strangers could.”

He asked (in Italian) if they ate well at the big house…;

“Mangiano bene nella grande casa?”

She replied ( in English)..:

“ The evening light falling on the river spreads a certain calm over the waters…don’t you think?”

He was a stone-mason by trade.

She desired to be a poet.

They got on well, and in the intervening months, while Enrico’s English improved immensely, so did their congenial meetings..by now a regular, mutually agreeable thing. As the Spring weather became more and more pleasant and the days longer, Enrico would linger at his duties of pumping water into the tanker longer than was allocated by his roster and he was questioned by Joe on his arrival back at the camp..

“What do you get up to there by the riverside to be away for so long?” Joe asked.

“ I listen to the birds sing and observe the calming light on the waters”..Enrico answered.

“And this singing birdy you listen to..what is her name?” Joe cynically responded..

“Rosaline.” Enrico smiled.

Indeed, They did eventually wed..the youthful composer of the above doggerel ; Rosaline Thomas and the refugee Italian ; Enrico Corradini (whom she would call; “Ricky”). And as she describes her running through the scrub to meet with her lover, I can now ask, knowing the ending of her story ; Was she running to embrace life, or running from a desolate lifestyle?..And Enrico, the refugee , HE we know was running from hunger and war, but did he realise then as he surely did later, what and where was he running to?”

Enrico arrived at the Charcoal camp a week after Artini’s attemped escape and drowning in the Murray River. So the whole camp was in the doldrums over that affair. There was little appetite for getting to know any new arrivals at the moment..the whole camp ran on “automatic pilot” and Enrico was given the easy job of just going to the river twice a week to get a tanker full of water. It was on one of these trips that he met Rosaline.

The “unofficial” story surrounding their meeting and courtship is recorded in the family circle..It seems the erstwhile Enrico was out trapping rabbits one day and he got lost..only to stumble onto the dusty bush camp where, coincidently, the young Rosaline was in attendance to her mother ; Grace Thomas, who was expecting her fifth child. Rosaline’s father, having difficulty understanding the gesticulating “eyetalian”, instructed Rose to show him the track leading to the presumed wood-cutters camp from whence he came.

In truth, the information on the whereabouts of that family’s camp-site away in the bush from another charcoal-burning camp a couple of kilometres from Fox’s camp, and the fact that Rosaline would be at that camp-site on such a time of the month was passed to Enrico on one of their “accidental meetings” at the river’s edge..the trapping of rabbits was Enrico’s own innovation.

A week or so later, Enrico turned up again, rabbit traps in hand and lost again..the same procedure as last time was followed and that was that, until again..another week later Enrico shows up again, lost while trapping rabbits…this time, as Rosaline is leading the gentleman away, Richard Thomas scratched the back of his head in thought…he turned to his wife..:

“You know..that eyetie must be the worst trapper in the world…he’s never got one single bunny!”

Joe continues…;

“The camp that Rosaline’s parents were at was a couple of kilometres from our camp and it was run by a Slavic man named Jack…It was a rough camp of desperates and opportunists, with many accidents at the charcoal pit heads..for if those burns were not attended to or done right, they could suddenly explode into a shower of flame and sparks and set the whole camp aflame…Here, I will let Rosaline explain it from this poem she wrote of everyday life there..

“Also down in the camp,

The man are up and about,

Somebody waves a flagon,’

And another raises a shout!

Then a glass of wine is downed,

To help one through the day . . .”

So you can see, there was not much disciplined routine over in that camp and that is why Richard Thomas moved his family away into the scrub and pitched tent away from the men, as Mrs. Thomas and the young girls were the only women and children in the camp…So when Rosaline told Enrico she was going to stay with her mother because of the mother’s pregnancy, that developed into the occurrence of her mother having a miscarriage and Rosaline had to stay longer to both help with her mother’s recuperation and the schooling of the younger ones..so Enrico got to know Rosa and her family quite well over that time, with the family sometimes coming to play cards at the Italian camp..and then when Rosaline went back to work at Portee station, he resumed his job of going to the river to get water..and there he continued his courtship of Rosaline.”

Joe continues..:

“Now, the war is coming to an end..it won’t be long before the camp will be broken up and all these men will be able to go back to their dreams…but I wonder if those dreams will now become something different?….”

One afternoon, on the banks of the Murray River, Enrico and Rosaline sit talking of the future…The war is near an end and the Camp is due to be broken up…The Italians will be able to go back to their former plans and dreams…Enrico says to Rosaline:

“Rosa..what are we to do?…I will soon be sent back to the city..what will you do?”

Rosaline sat quietly looking over the river waters…then she spoke..not exactly TO Enrico, but to the quiet atmosphere around them both..:

“There’s an old German hand there at Portee who, whenever he has to cross the river on the punt to go to work on the other side, would pick up a small stone, a pebble, carry it across and place it on the other side….I once asked him why he did it….he was at first reluctant to tell me..but I persisted…

“Well, girlie”…( that’s what they all call young women out here)….”it is my own little thing…I think of the small stone as my soul,…you see, I cannot swim..and so I take the stone, carry it, and if or when I reach safely the solid ground on the other side, I leave it dzair….when I come back, I do the same”

“What happens if the punt starts to sink?” I asked.

“Dzen I will try to throw it with all my might, to the other side….and I think if it reaches there , then  I feel I too will reach there…”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“Dzen, I think I vill be lost in the waters of the river…” Rosaline stopped abruptly and looked to Enrico with a sadness in her eyes..“Will I too be lost in the waters of the river, Enrico?” she asked. “Will my life’s hope be as desperate as that little pebble..nothing but a hope of something better?”

Enrico took her hands and looked deep into her eyes…he then asked the question he had been wanting to ask for a long time….

“Will you come to the city to be with me, Rosa?…Come to the city and we can soon be married…if you will have me.”

“O’, Ricky..how can we marry?…you see where my family lives..how my family lives…in a bag tent in the Mallee..I have nothing, you have little as you have said yourself..How can we start a life together?”

Enrico clasps her hands tight..

“But, my love..soon I will be back in the city..I have a job promised to me by Joe..he is a builder there..I will make my money..if you can find work there, we can both start a new life together..”

Rosaline brightens up at the new prospect, this new hope…

“Dr. Hackendorf and his wife are good friends of the owners of Portee Station and the Doctor has said many times that I could work and board with them if I ever decide to come to the city to live…I’ll see if that offer still stands”…

Enrico moves to kneel in front of the sitting Rosaline takes hold of her hands and sings this song to her..:

“El canto della sposa”..:

“The house of my darling,

Is all made of bags,

But for me who wishes to go there ,

It is a palace of silk..”  (etc.see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-KqXtc0CFo )

Afterwards, they both go back to the camp, where they find the men there in an uproar at the news that Gemano’s fiancé has survived the war and has written a letter to Gemano…He rushes toward Enrico when he sees he and Rosaline arrive back from the river in the water truck…The opening music of Verdi’s “Requiem Dies Irae “  strikes up in the background ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79tAD1UZ7m0

 Gemano is waving a letter and crying out to the sky..

“She lives!!…she lives!!…my love is alive!…ahh, ha ha! ..she lives..” he drops to his knees and sobs.. “We have won, Enrico..we have both beaten death…for now…my love lives..she lives”

And he holds the letter up to Enrico who takes it gently and reads it..:

“Oh Gemano…truly you are fortunate…yes…she lives..” Enrico pauses, his brow furrows as he reads on..” She says here she now has a child…born during the war…”

“Yes, yes..I saw that..and she says she will only come to me if I accept the child as well.. what say you, Enrico…what do you think..”

“Do you still love her, Gemano?”

“Truly…more than I could say…so much more than I could say..”

“Then you must accept them both, Gemano…for they are both needing you as well..and who can say what has happened to those we left behind in that war…both you and I remember the last great war…so much killing of the young and old and raping of the women…the armies went up and down those valleys taking and using everything in their path so that none were spared..or none would survive..”…and he hands the letter back to Gemano…who takes it tenderly, folds it away into the envelope and places it into a top pocket…he then stands and takes out the old photograph he has of her..the stage darkens with a spotlight only on Gemano…he sings his song to the tune once again of ; “O’ mio babbino caro”…(I would also like to hear the soft strains of the ukulele mixed in tune with the symphonic music) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f59v8r1CBIo&list=PLabSmKXr9e_dZYdM61YNlQ40pRjjBPjYR&index=2&t=0s

“Now I will see my Sophia, (he holds her picture in front)

I still hold her picture so dear..

We will kiss at the station once more,

And I’ll put a white rose in her hair.

Just like this one I see here, (touches photo)

Now she is back I will kiss her,

Now she is back I shan’t miss her,

Once I see my Sophia,

I can’t believe she will be here,

I so want her to call my name,

Now I will see my Sophia,

Now I will hold my Fidanza,

We will kiss once more at the station,

I will put a rose in her hair, (Gemano strokes the picture lovingly)

I can hardly believe she will be here,

I so want her near me,

I will soon see my Sophia,

My love, My darling, my dear.”

I will soon see my Sophia,

My love, my darling, my dear.”

The music continues as the light slowly dims on Gemano, standing with his head bowed …

Joe the Narrator takes up the story…

“Ah…Gemano and Sophia…they did get married…by proxy..he here, she there in the old country and they finally joined together later when the ship brought her and her child to a new life here in Australia…and they had more children.

The camp was broken up not long after, and the men went back to their trades and work in the city and elsewhere…and look (Joe points to a heap of sacks left in a jumble at the back of the stage set ) there..in amongst the left over rubbish and sacks on their old life here..(He bends to pick up Gemano’s ukulele..it is battered and damaged and a couple of strings are broken) and see here..Gemano’s ukulele…what brought so much song and joy to so many nights in the camp..left to decay away with their memories…(he tosses it onto the heap of sacks) ..oh well..perhaps best it be so…so many dark days to walk away from…best it be so…”

Joe walks briskly off stage, whistling as he does so to the background music of “O’ mio babbino caro”…..