The Gelded Stallion.

Pedro the Great Dies at Haras de la Haie Neuve - BloodHorse
Pic of Pedro The Great.

Martin Menzell was getting old. Martin was of the generation from the era before the war when horse power was the major means of farming production..before tractors became more efficient and the horse era was brought to a sudden and inglorious end..who could have foreseen that the development of those brutal machines of war, would make for the development of the tractor to become the machine for farming that would completely, in such a short space of time, sideline the draught-horse as the work-horse of agriculture. Gone in an instant was all those allied trades and skills that supported and surrounded the horse industry for uncounted millenia…all the experts in breeding, breaking and training horses in so many communities..gone also were the farriers, blacksmiths, saddlers and harness makers and repairers…and the conversations at store and hotel moved from muscle and hoof to the mechanics of this or that machinery.

An era of companionship in leisure and labour between horse and man, that had stood for uncountable millennia had passed.

Martin Menzell watched with concerned eye this passing of an era..He first had an inkling of it when old Glastonbury retired and on-sold one of the first cumbersome tractors that came to the district..a great lump of a thing called ; “A Lanz Bulldog”…sure, it could pull its weight on the plough and then some, but it was a beast of a thing to get started and the noise , and the smell and the fuel it needed was filthy and most distressingly..it scared the horses!….But when old man Glastonbury retired, young Rosenswietz made a lunge to buy that tractor quick-smart that demonstrated an eagerness for this new age of machine driven farming that gave warning to Martin Menzell that here was a thing whose moment had come..and it was coming to stay.

Martin was worried.

Martin loved his horses.

But Martin was getting old.

There were still several horses that he kept as personal companions that connected him to a passed age. He had relinquished the running of the farm several years before to his two daughters, his only children for he had no son…after his wife passed away.. The daughters too had an affinity for horses, but in a more “sport-horse” capacity…that is, they worked and trained them for equestrian competition like dressage or Hacking events…an occupation that Martin scorned as frivolous and undignified for serious horse breeding and working.

Martin kept his skills and observing eye to himself regarding what HE thought would make for a good breed of horse…and on that matter, he had his eye on a mare of his own that he had for some time considered good brood stock for a likely stallion. Many times he could be seen leaning over the rails of the mare’s yard watching her movements closely…Her stepping movements. The muscular frame of her body..strength of the forequarter and hindquarter…the swing in her trot or canter..that shimmer of her coat…but most of all was this instinct for the whole picture of the mare..an instinct cultivated over so many years of handling, breaking and grooming of those beasts..yes…he was thinking..there is a good brood mare…and he knew just the right stallion he would want to mate her with.

Another old friend from the days of serious horse farming, Charlie Kruger had just the stallion Martin had in mind…Charlie had paid a tidy sum for him back in the day and was charging more than Martin could afford for a mare servicing..but that was then…Similar health problems coming with ageing were troubling Charlie Kruger now and Martin heard that Charlie’s stallion ; “Nobleman” would soon be put up for sale.. Martin approached his old friend and made him an offer that Charlie accepted with the rider that any foal could not be signed off on a breed certificate as a progeny of “Nobleman”, as the mare had no breeding papers….and the pair of horses were left in a yard to “go about their business” once the mare came on season.

The mating was successful and in due course, fortune came forward and a colt was born.. and what a fine colt he was…and once weaned, the colt’s body and frame started to really develop into a fine figure of a future stallion…and he named this stallion ; “Ctesephon”, pronounced ; Tesephon..after the ancient capital of Persia…yes…he thought..a noble name for a noble beast…A dark Bay coloured horse with black lower legs without blotch nor blemish…and just a splotch of white on its forehead..a beautiful beast. 

Martin knew he no longer had the physical strength to break the stallion, so when Ctesephon was two years old, he called in a local young man that he knew was up to the job… Gary Sommer…and under Martin’s tutelage and Gary’s skilled nerve, they gradually brought Ctesephon under the control of bridle, bit and saddle without breaking that glorious strut, trot and canter of the beast…he truly was a magnificent animal..and once he was good enough for Martin to lunge, they would go to the Round Yard and Martin would put Ctesephon through his paces, developing his frame and balancing his movements, so that when he trotted or cantered, it was with an unfaltering stride and with his head in perfect symmetry to his pushing steps…Martin would never tire of admiring that marvellous beast and he felt more than a little proud that his breeding judgement was proven so sound with this fine example of equine purity..

Martin held the lunge rope and put Ctesephon into a fast trot, holding him in the frame so he could study the stride and pitch of the body..

He was as a butterfly in a flock of moths. He bounced on his hooves with all the grace of a prancing pony, circling, lifting,  dipping, feinting. He floated in the air at times with what seemed all four hooves off the ground and Martin found he could time Ctesephon’s strides with a snap of his fingers…Snap! Snap! Snap! Snap!…and the horse’s muscles flexed and pumped out shimmering waves of his coat with a combination of controlled speed and controlled step like some boxing greats.

“He’s like a Panther with a pretty face.” Said Gary as he watched from the rails….Yes..Martin agreed he’s almost like a big cat stalking around the yard…beautiful.

Martin would spend hours training and grooming his steed over many months..

But Martin was getting old.

One day, one of the daughters found Martin laying on the couch in his “Granny flat” in a frozen immovable state…he had suffered a stroke…and for a long time, he was at death’s door…then came the struggle in convalescence and then in rehabilitation, for Martin had lost much of his capacity to move around or speak and even to comprehend what was being spoken to him..so it was a good nine months before he could ask or be told of events down on the property.

When Martin did finally get the chance to lucidly put words together, it was to ask of Ctesephon..

“Fine..He’s fine..” said his eldest daughter, Fiona…” He’s down the back paddock fattening up on the new growth grass there..he’s just fine..”

Fiona was the more authoritative of Martin’s two daughters…it was she who managed the property once Martin relinquished it to his daughters…and it was Fiona who changed the business model from an agricultural system to primarily an equestrian centre with indoor arena, where the more affluent of the district would congregate and take lessons or agist their horses…the younger daughter, Kaylene, was more of the party animal type and though she too was keen on the equestrian side , she had little to do with the management of the business and followed..albeit insubordinately…her older sister’s instructions.

“Is he being worked? “ Martin mumbled out…There was a pause before Fiona answered.

“ He’s ….resting..” she cautiously replied.

“Better get young Gary to keep working him…it won’t be good to leave off with the training at this young age..”

Fiona stopped folding some items she had brought there for Martin and sat gingerly on the edge of the bed…she clasped her hands together on her lap and spoke..

“Gary doesn’t come to the farm anymore….I had to let him go.”

“Why?…he’s a strapping young lad..I’d think he’d be quite useful to do the heavy lifting there on the farm.”

Fiona averted her eyes and replied..

“That’s the problem…he was a bit too much of the “strapping young lad”   at least as far as Kaylene was concerned….He’s too much of a distraction for her and the other girls working there..”

“What girls..they’re all grown women!” Martin exclaimed. “Kay’ must be..oh, twenty eight by now..that’s a grown woman in my book..your mother was younger when we married…mind you, I was much older than her..but she had you two by the time she was twenty five!…would’ve had more but for Kaylene’s difficult pregnancy!”

“ That was then, dad…now, thirty is the new twenty..and Kay’ still acts like a young teenager..Look ( and Fiona stood up from the bed and with hands on her hips, she confronted her father with her explanation )….if you are so convinced that Kaylene is the grown woman I’ll tell you about her.. I was walking past the feed room a while back and I heard a noise from inside and while the door was shut, I could see through that hole where the old lock was ..and there was Kaylene flat-strap on her back on the lucerne bales with her ankles up by her ears and with Gary giving her a lot of what YOUR generation so crudely calls ‘ ‘ow’s yer father’ …so there’s your “grown woman”..

“Oh…” Martin mumbled..” Did you confront her about it ?”

“I did..and I said that I saw what she and Gary were up to in the feed room…but the only reply I got was a casual..”Did you dear?”…and with a slap of her riding crop on her jodhpurs, she walked away..Well, I told Gary I didn’t need him there any more and I paid him off”.

“The cheeky little sprite!” and Martin chuckled “ Oh well..your mother and I were no better behaved when we were young….I remember one time after a local dance….”

“I don’t want to know!” Fiona quickly and sharply interjected..and she gathered her purse and things to go..

“Well, you better think of getting him back to do some work on Ctesephon..because I won’t be back on line for quite a while and you can’t let a stallion stand idle…they’re troublesome…like young strapping lads..” and he gave Fiona a wink on her parting.

It was several weeks before Martin could get back to his home on the property and then only move about the granny-flat with the help of a walking frame or a stick on some days…His speech had almost completely restored, but his left side leg and arm were only partially useful..but he still insisted on doing for himself as much as possible…the only fly in the ointment at this juncture was his concern for Ctesephon and the lack of training he was getting…he decided to ring Gary himself and get him to come over.

“ Oh..hello, Martin” Gary answered the phone “How you getting on?…You home yet?”

“Yeah, I’m home and I’m still ratshit!…can only get around with this bloody frame… or a stick…it’s shithouse…say..how about you coming over an’ helping me?”

“What for…changing the nappy?” and he laughed.

“Don’t be a smart-arse, young whipper-snapper…I’m talking about Ctesephon…he needs working.”

“Don’t you know I’m banned…?”

“That’s your fault…don’t you know not to take your honey where you make your money?…and anyway..I’m unbanning you..I need your help with Ctesephon.”

“Why..the girls can manage him now..can’t they?”

“NO they can’t!” Martin yelled into the phone “I saw him drag Fiona about the yard just yesterday..he’s too much of a handful for her.”

“Hrumph!” Gary grunted..” I suppose he’s still pissed off with them”…There was a silence from Martin’s end of the line and a cold fear came over him.

“What do you mean ;’pissed off’ ?” He asked…Gary twigged that he hadn’t been told…and while he regretted ever giving hint, it was too late now to avoid the issue…Martin would find out soon anyway.

“ They had him gelded”…there was a silence..so he continued..” about six months ago…didn’t they tell you?”….Gary could hear his own breathing…” They didn’t know if you were going to survive..and he was too much for any of the women to handle…and one day he broke out of his yard and there was all sorts of havoc…Fiona had to call me over to get him back into a yard…she was shitting herself he would get into the mare’s paddock”…there was silence on the line..then it went dead.

That night when he sat to dinner with Fiona, half way through his meal, Martin carefully put his knife and fork down and sat up straight in his chair…never one to beat about the bush he straight up asked his daughter..

“When did you think you would tell me about gelding Ctesephon?”…Fiona stopped eating and with cutlery in hand paused while she cogitated on her answer.

“Soon…very soon…..Look…I had no choice…I suppose you got the news from Gary?”

“Yeah…I got the news from Gary…said you couldn’t handle him”. Martin spoke sarcastically…Fiona placed her cutlery on the table..

“You heard of the break-out then..I was at wits end how to manage him”

“And THAT’S the crux of it all…YOU couldn’t “manage” the stallion…like YOU couldn’t “manage” Gary with Kaylene..so you bent both situations to YOUR will…your control..you gelded both situations.” Martin wiped his lips and flung the napkin to the table.

“That’s right!” Fiona, now angry also..shouted ..” I couldn’t manage him…NONE of us women could..he was too fierce…too strong…the vet had to tranquilise him with a gun just to get near him!”

“What did you expect..He was a solid built stallion..NOT some poncy, prancing pony…You should’ve called Gary in…HE could manage him”

“ Oh yes!..’get Gary’…’Get Martin’….’Get the men in to help the girls manage a situation’…I COULD manage it…just NOT in the way YOU would let me…”…Fiona shouted across the table…Martin pshawwed the comment..Fiona continued ” Yes..and while we’re at it, perhaps YOU can tell me what else I am supposed to do with a stallion that no-one except your ‘darlin’ Gary’ could ride..a stallion no-one would want the foal from seeing as it has no breeding history save a stallion from some MATE of yours and bloody “Stumpy the mare”…” all this with Fiona stabbing her finger in the air and making inverted comma signs with her hands..

“He was a bloody perfect breed…you could see it in his frame, his stride, his movement, his muscle structure…a beautiful boy ..you don’t need any PAPERS to tell you that.”

“Yes…he’s a beautiful boy alright..a stunner…but not worth a red-cent as far as people in the industry go…There is no-one in this era that has use for an idle stallion that has no breeding heritage and no re-sale value save for a school horse..anybody with the amount of cash needed and willing to pay the big-bickies for a bred horse in this game will want their bloodline papers to show breeding that goes back to William The Conqueror!!…It’s all show-pony now, Dad..There’s no horse-drawn ploughs any more…there’s no milk-oh wagons plodding the streets either…and no-one has a sulky or cart that needs a horse in harness…”…and here Fiona softened her voice…” . . . and seriously..we didn’t know if you were even going to survive the stroke…or if you did you’d perhaps be a vegetable…I had to make a decision and that breakout made it for me.”

“ That’s the trouble, isn’t it…that’s EXACTLY the trouble…there’s no use even for such a beautiful example of a beast of nature just to admire…a perfect specimen…save for what can be got from it…if it can’t be “managed”, it can’t be of any value…it’s no wonder they can’t even sing a decent song anymore”…and Martin got up and left the table and hobbled with his walking frame back to his flat.

It was the early hours of the very next morning, with the wind bustling the branches and leaves of the low trees about the property, that Martin opened the door of his flat and with a long bag slung over his shoulder and his weakened body being supported by a walking frame, Martin made his way cautiously to the horse yard where Ctesephon was held…upon arrival at the rails, he pulled out some cut carrots from his coat pocket..and motioning toward Ctesephon, he called him to the rails..

Ctesephon recognised his master and also saw the carrots and he came to the rails..

“Ah, yes…can’t resist a carrot, eh, “Tessi”…Martin crooned…”My goodness, you’re still a fine looking boy..if one can call you a “boy” any more…they called men who had their balls cut off ; ‘Castratos’ back in the days when they did such things to humans…what am I to call you?..hmm…my beautiful fellow…my beautiful boy…yes…you’re still my beautiful boy..”and dropping several carrots onto the ground in front of him, so that the gelded stallion bent his head to pick at the reward..Martin caressingly stroked Ctesephon’s face…and then, lifting the long bag there that he had prepared before he came down to the yard, Martin unzipped the end and reaching his arm into the bag to cradle the trigger of the twelve-gauge shotgun loaded with a solid-slug 12-bore shell, he lifted bag and all so as not to alarm the horse to point it to the correct place on the gelded stallion’s head..and with a final “Goodbye old mate”….he pulled the trigger..

“Clustering”..The new tool for electoral success.

Image result for Gathering of people pics.

The most concerning conundrum post election is the question of why working/vulnerable people voted against their own interests to help return a right-wing government that then goes on to bust them economically and socially…and not just in this country, but with Brexit and Trumpism too, there were strange forces at play to shift opinion away from sane rationality to vociferous anger.

Why is it so?

I believe I can see an answer in the word ; “Clustering”…ie; getting hold of groups of vulnerable voters and using certain cultural fears to unite/corral them against what could be seen as a long-time enemy..and then letting the natural suspicions and gossiping innuendo do the hard work of : “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and so bring another group of indecisive voters into the tent.

I would describe “clustering” as that action of where one central identifiable position of authority or person of power, through self-interest, raises opposition to a principle or ideal and because of their/its credible standing in a group or the community, can gather others around itself and using those people then up the ante in opposition to a principle or ideal and create a “cluster” of persons of credibility that acts like a magnet, drawing those undecided to what is seen as the most attractive position of strength. It is the attraction of strength that pulls in the undecided voters to throw their lot in with those they see as best supporting THEIR personal interests as against the wider communities interests..Using this methodology, smaller, more localised groups can be targeted with a “Cambridge Analytica” style concentration on most vulnerable seats or even ballot-box areas…with military precision to divide the electorate into smaller, easily managed groups.

Most of us of a certain experience in life have witnessed or even suffered such a phenomenon involving team sports, committees, work meetings etc..it is not nice and worse of all, after time and experience, one can see quite clearly when such a thing is evolving right in front of one’s eyes…Anyone watching “Insiders” last Sunday (14/02 ) could see the journos’ there join in a “pile-on” against Daniel Andrews and his decision to lockdown Victoria…and then there was the discussion about low-income, casualised workers (Uber / Food delivery riders etc) getting decent conditions, with the “Newscorp genuflector” at one point giving clue to the future direction of his treasonous group in saying that (wtte) “these pizza delivery people are mostly migrants and overseas students who many people would see as lesser workers”…implying a sense of racist interpretation in the general community…….and sadly, going by recent events…he just may be correct…and there we see the possibility of the LNP playing a “cluster card” of one vulnerable working group – Australian local casualised workforce against an imported “457” cheap-labour section of the community…just as Howard played the “lower caste” refugees with his “children overboard” racism against the settled, secured Australian community…never mind that so many of that settled community were multi cultural already…it was the “do we want such disreputable people infecting our lovely country?” debate that won the day.

The last Federal election was also played on such grounds..the franking credits issue touched also the heart-strings of other self funded retirees..so many of whom were working people who benefitted from long term permanent employment, cheaper house prices when they bought and a solid superannuation scheme to allow them to invest or speculate on shares or property to harvest extra income to boost their retirement…indeed, some were heavily reliant on such investments as their aged pension could have been severely cut because of their superannuation amount and  income from investment..this created a cluster of self-interest among retirees that was inflamed by Tim Wilson’s geriatric Big-top circus up and down the East Coast.

Then there was The Greens “Adani Convoy”, where either through deliberate incitement or gormless political blundering, Bob Brown’s mob created another “cluster” of mining community members completely dropping Labor off their vote slips to insert the f#cking harridan Hanson on!…in a deluded opinion that they were protecting their long-term interests…again..clustering toward what was seen as a position of strength.

Add to the above a continual division on climate change, carbon sequestration and environmental challenges and you have a well-spring of clusters to manipulate… and with a now totally corrupt to the point of criminality Gov’t, the Sky-Channel is their limit!

There must be some psychological term to describe this clustering effect in groups, but I won’t go looking for it, satisfied as I am that I can see it in action among many bloggers and social media posters…on Twitter for instance, it is not an uncommon thing for groups to cluster to “pile on” singular identities to bludgeon them off the board…we see such moments as the “cancel culture” groups…the anti this or that groups…we saw it in spades against individuals like J.K.Rowling…right or wrong, it became an avalanche of trolling…it can verge on bullying when it becomes a concentrated force.

I personally witnessed it on another social media platform some years back where a moderator, backed by a “rising star” poster on the site combined forces to attack another person and then by “magnetic attraction” others who had no part in the discussion, joined in their cooperative attack to add their infantile opinions as little more than a background shout of noise to what became the collective howling down of any opposition…

This strange yet powerful attraction of the insecure individual to join forces with those they see as a more powerful voice that will give them, vicariously, added importance to an otherwise insignificant mumble of their own, makes for a cluster of individually weak, but collectively strong voting bloc of the undecided voters that in an election won or lost on a one-seat majority is a much sought out number.

Be warned..the next election is already being ‘war-gamed’ on what that slime-bag of newscorp pustulance ; Campbell, gave away last Sunday…the playing against each other of Australian worker to immigrant worker/student..making note of the Chinese/Indian ethnicity…then the playing against trade-workers in building to cheap labour-hire imported workers, not to mention that old standby..the “overpaid indigenous community” against the long-suffering suburban white community..particularly in these times of “jobkeeper/Seeker”..and then of course, we have those others mentioned above…

It may become an adage worthy in replacing the old ; “In numbers there is strength” ..with ; “In clusters, there is an election win”.

Why Join China’s : One Belt – One Road.

Or : Forty Centuries of Sustainable Farming.

“We are to consider some of the practices of a virile race of some five hundred millions of people who have an unimpaired inheritance moving with the momentum acquired through four thousand years; a people morally and intellectually strong, mechanically capable, who are awakening to a utilization of all the possibilities which science and invention during recent years have brought to western nations; and a people who have long dearly loved peace but who can and will fight in self defense if compelled to do so.

We had long desired to stand face to face with Chinese and Japanese farmers; to walk through their fields and to learn by seeing some of their methods, appliances and practices which centuries of stress and experience have led these oldest farmers in the world to adopt. We desired to learn how it is possible, after twenty and perhaps thirty or even forty centuries, for their soils to be made to produce sufficiently for the maintenance of such dense populations as are living now in these three countries . . . “ ( Farmers of Forty Centuries..F.H.King .. pub’. 1911 ) 

http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/5350/pg5350.html

This is not a panegyric for China…after all, I am a nobody as far as ANY social influence goes and for a person such as myself to wax flattery about a nation of around 1.5 billion people, would be presumption of the most crass and vulgar kind, they certainly can and do speak for themselves.

No…I come not to praise China, but rather to perhaps persuade others here to “listen up” to what ought to be obvious regarding the reality of this mega-populated nation to the north of us..and if we read the above portion of the preface to a book by an American, published in 1911 of the skills and traditions of agriculture of those peoples from forty centuries ago until that said date of publishing, you will appreciate a civilisation well versed in knowledge, frugality and perseverance…and other characteristics mentioned above…truly a nation of people to be, if not possibly emulated, then at the very least respected as capable and culturally cohesive.

The incessant anti-China propaganda dribbling out from ALL our media that seeks and finds every and any means to vilify and demean China via direct accusation or implied innuendo reeks of the old days of anti-Soviet “Red Menace” publications…Of course, these days the “Bolshevism schlock” is a damn sight more sophisticated, but none the less crude in its enactment by certain authorities and media outlets.

But what is the real feeling of what and where China is going with its social and economic expansion?

One Belt – One Road. …Surely a bold and courageous initiative that ought to hold the attention of the world and inspire it to examine it as more than just a “communist plot” by China to grab power..

“The stated objectives are “to construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and domestic markets, through cultural exchange and integration, to enhance mutual understanding and trust of member nations, ending up in an innovative pattern with capital inflows, talent pool, and technology database.” The Belt and Road Initiative addresses an “infrastructure gap” and thus has potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. A report from the World Pensions Council (WPC) estimates that Asia, excluding China, requires up to US$900 billion of infrastructure investments per year over the next decade, mostly in debt instruments, 50% above current infrastructure spending rates. The gaping need for long term capital explains why many Asian and Eastern European heads of state “gladly expressed their interest to join this new international financial institution focusing solely on ‘real assets’ and infrastructure-driven economic growth”. ( Wikipedia)

Surely this would benefit Australia and open up entirely new markets for agricultural produce and manufacturing?..What could possibly be the downside to wholeheartedly joining in such an enterprise, except that certain “players” who like to control and corner geographical areas of the world trade map may find their “private back yard” of controlled and policed countries shrinking and abandoning their “protection racket” methodologies.

We have seen just recently, many Pacific Nations being approached with investment opportunities by China that would be of more benefit to those nations than the patronising pseudo-colonising by “certain western nations” that have kept them under obligation to a cold-as-charity system of “foreign aid” and exploitation…Having their revered cultures displayed as tourist entertainment for a few shekels tossed at their feet..or worse, being used as a penal colony for payment for their debts. Who can blame them for considering a changing of the guard?

And what about us?..What have we as a nation gained from this brave new world of neo-liberal, free-market philosophy?…A gig economy of casualised, part-time work, flat-lined shit wages and conditions…shit healthcare, inequality in education and a racist attitude toward multi-culturalism…retirement to a world of poverty and lack of decent care…a coterie of gangster LNP politicians who if they cannot steal the nations treasures to add to their already bulging property portfolios, they then flog it off at fire-sale prices to their mates and have sent everything of quality off-shore including our good name and honour…and there’s no point asking that old chestnut ; “what have we got to lose”, because we have already lost it!

What would be lost for Australians to hitch their wagon to the One Belt – One Road Initiative? We see and hear the agricultural sector bitterly complaining of a lack of workers, surely if there was a wider market ready to pick up our produce, good wages and conditions could be paid to lure workers to their farms…if there was a greater population calling out for quality produce, then all the better for pricing and maintaining healthy agriculture practices?…If there was a wider market for the shipping of goods, then there would surely be space for quality manufacturing and value-adding to the products we make?

Someone tell me the downside?…and if we continue to clamour that Australia is a “market driven” economy that runs on the entrepreneurial inventiveness of its best and brightest, then surely the chance to join in one of the most imaginative enterprises of this twenty first century has to be a once in a lifetime opportunity!

I’m in!…are you?

The Tower.

The Tower.

He fell,

As mighty edifices do fall,

And death made a mockery of him,

As it makes mockery of us all.

But I was just a child of Shinar,

On the plain where The Tower was built.

Bored with a sedentary life,

They hungered for something to adore.

It sprung from the soil a shimmering phallal,

Upon it they lavished their skills

And they named it Babel.

Oh, how it climbed toward the heavens!

While we fed off the spoils of Mother Earth,

The fruits and wines that gave us birth

With n’aer a thought of impending death,

So was the pride full in our hearts.

I asked of my Father, a mason there,

“What the reason for The Tower?”

“In your wildest dreams” he said “you will not want,

And in your steps you will not falter,

We have built and paved a path to heaven,

We have gilded mankind’s altar.

Precious stones from far Afghanistan,

Quoins of coloured marbles of Kazakhstan

Pearls from the depths of The Euxine Sea,

Onyx and alabaster barged down the Nile,

These riches have we brought to thee!

Heaven is our gate, Hell below our feet,

We stand poised to challenge the Gods

Never more to yield to a defeat.”

I was a child of Shinar when the Tower they built,

And never was there a more united cry,

A more singular and determined voice,

“Babel!” they cried, “Babel! You are ours!”,

Voices like sea-waves crashing eternal upon a beach.

And they built onwards and upwards that mighty tower,

The riches of the Earth they did devour,

With no thought of rest…nor honour,

We poured all into that mighty edifice.

Our leaders, as toward heaven it thrust,

They called down to us, encouraged us,

“This is of you” they softly called.

“This is by you” they softly persuaded.

“This is for you” they softly whispered.

And that triple reassurance won us,

And we worked and laboured for that goal,

“Babel, Babel!” we cried and we worshipped the ideal,

And we never wondered when our own plates went empty

Why others were always filled,

Why THEY were able to lavish aplenty,

While our plains and wells went dry….

Then it fell.

As soft as a tremor, violent as a quake,

It fell because of one small mistake.

It fell when we suddenly came to see,

After climbing, climbing so high in that ecstasy,

Those Gods whose heaven we were calling home,

Were neither singular..nor divine,

But were a made creation of our own!

WE made the Gods of OUR own image,

NOT the Gods of us!

WE made heaven of OUR own wants and desires,

Our leaders fed us of our own language,

And fanned and fuelled our tangled runes,

Spoke in riddles of strange but familiar sounds,

Until we could no more understand their tongue,

And then we saw..our work there was done.

We cast away our tools,

Cursed each other as fools,

And wept….

“Oh Babel, Babel..why has thou forsaken us”.

But too late..too late..it is gone, it is bust..

Babel, our hopes, our dreams, our lusts,

Babel, our creation, our immortal soul,

Has but gone to dust….

We were children of Shinar when first The Tower was built,

We are adults now…awash in a sea of guilt.

A Lack of Conviction or a Lack of Confidence?

Is it a lack of conviction toward an ideology of the Left, a lack of confidence that the Left can lead them to personal prosperity, or a lack of corporate memory of how the Right-wing has damaged the working people of this nation that has created this pot-pourri of political confusion?

And if there is anything the Right of politics thrives on, it is confusion within the voting public…because when there is doubt, a promise of financial security via pork-barrelling is “votes-in-the-booth” for the demagogues..and given that it is a dead-weight on the decency of a party with good intent that they cannot use the same machinations and malevolence of a cruel party to try and convince the voter in a now corrupted “democracy”, they are on the back-foot from the start.

Then we have the “swingers” in the party..or the base..chockers to the gills with enough social media links up their sleeve to gaslight a whole suburb with their “knowledge and opinions”. Unfortunately, as many of us have witnessed with our own now grown gen X or Y children, there seems to be a lack of solid anchoring to any ideology other than that which is delivered down a smartphone with 4 or 5G multi-megabyte speed from their peers or some of the most dubious sources on the net…and we see yet again that as in the old adage of ; ”If it is reported in the newspapers” …then it must be true….

But hey, this is where a lack of corporate memory comes into the game…In an age where the reading of deep-thinking tomes of philosophy, history or satirical literature is a thing of the past as far as this next generation goes, lessons of the past, let alone advice most salubrious for the future is scorned for the incessant rush of “You Tube Instant Enlightment”…heaven knows how many “gosh!” moments I have had to listen to from young people enlightening me with such profound newly learned knowledge…

I didn’t know I didn’t know so much!

And that takes us to the inevitable next phase of this post-modern (yes..sigh..it is still among us) outcome of spoon-fed dis-information…the lack of confidence of a rising generation to make decisions based on their own evolved knowledge and experience.

How can we expect a person raised upon uncertainty or distrust in culture, ideology, education and work to have the confidence to strike out without fear or favour. A whole generation..NO ..several generations..thrown into a mix of massive debt before diploma, no certainty of employment after graduation, be it in many spheres of training or tertiary education, and then only casual or crude short-term contracts and perhaps only a fall-back position of chance and circumstance in the notorious “gig-economy” of Uber or such-like..a ghastly outlook.

We recently had to go to the Telstra Store in the capital city to get them to validate our ownership of an ipad that had locked itself over password difficulties…we were told to go wait in the corner like shunned lepers while a bevy of hipsters worried over the legitimacy of ownership…It soon became clear from snippets of overheard conversation and grave looks in our direction that these youngsters couldn’t individually come to a decision without the whole group agreeing that those two obviously aged pensioners were perhaps part of a black-market gang trading in stolen ipads!…this little “jury of doubt” would have passed my fatalistic acceptance of the trials of modern technology but for another one-on-three feisty complaint another aged pensioner was having with Telstra staff over his old flip-top mobile phone, the staffers telling the old chap that he ought to upgrade to a later “smartphone” to get the service he now complains that is lacking..

“Smartphone!”..he loudly exclaimed “ The phone may be smart, but I have doubts that those who run it are!”…and he stormed off leaving the youngsters giggling and smirking…gone to us of a certain generation is the old Telstra..as reliable as the “On the stroke, the time will be . . . “ man..and there we see not so much a gap between the generations, but more a gaping abyss of distrust and deception… a rising generation that leans more and more on fed dubious information and jargon of a rhetoric complexity that both reassures and appeals to the demand of instant solution…the type of solution that pork-barrelling of various methodologies can assuage..the sort of thing we have seen the current collision of clowns in gov’t are brilliant at.

So there we have it…a combination in my opinion of a lack of conviction toward identity ideology, a lack of “follow-your-instinct” confidence in one’s own self and confirmed with a sadly lacking corporate memory of historical precedence to give solid grounding to one’s political stance…

Whether an attractive by its brutality swing to the far right, or a fright by the brutality swing to radical left will win the day and the vote, it all seems up in the air at the moment…one thing is for certain is that anyone with demagogue rhetoric will be out there swinging their shlock to create more doubt and confusion and if there is one thing Right-wing politics thrives upon, it is doubt and confusion in the electorate…grist for their mills and no mistake.

A Traveller’s Journal.

RISORGIMENTO!

“The Culture is dead, long live the Culture!”… When I was quite young, and I heard for the first time the cry of ; “The King is dead, long live the King!”..I was confused…how can the king live long if he is already dead?…But of course, ..well..you know the logic of that old saying with … Continue reading

The long term effects of the Drought.

  One can feel the drought settling in for the summer around here in the Mallee. (NB. This article was written in the lead-up to this Summer of 2019) It’s dry now and as the farmers will sighingly say..: “There’s nothing in the bank..there’s nothing in the bank…” Of course, they are talking about the … Continue reading

Passwords.

A close friend told me that not long before their mother passed away, she was given a “smartphone” by her children so as to be ready reachable and in case of emergency…they paid the connection fees etc. all she had to do was sign on. Of course, signing on to such services has a security … Continue reading

On Health Practitioners and other medicines.

There ought to be a rider attached to that response on the “happiest day of your life”, with the assurance of ;”I will……….provided!(see section 31-a…clause 19)”….I say that because when I first entered into that ‘contract’, I went from a batchelor whose only adult affliction was a terminal case of “lateral spine” with the attitude … Continue reading

Too much of Plenty.

In an era of such discrepancy between those who have too much and the great majority who have too little, it is with a kind of disbelief that I keep on seeing the tyrannical political representatives of the former being repeatedly gaining office to inflict even greater burdens on the latter … As the good … Continue reading

The Hollowed Stone.

( Love: The lost child of sophistication.) Romantic love.. Do we even know what it means anymore?  And if we did, how many of us would be willing to “throw it all over”..our whole lives.. on a whim of passionate emotion…I mean, now that we are all aware and sophisticated and have example and warning … Continue reading

The Gender Contract.

Did you watch that you tube vid’ ?…no? well go back and watch it.. you have to so as to understand this post.. Says about it all when it comes to gender relations and without a word. Where have we gone wrong?.. What should be an equal distribution of respect of give and take has … Continue reading

The Flaw in the Glass…

There is a weakness in the Armour , a flaw in the glass of the politically educated upper middle-class in these times..I have witnessed it when I prod and tease some posters who come to the site “trying it on” with their presumption of “authority of opinion” which they mistakenly presume is backed by an … Continue reading

As Game as Ned Kelly.

By the living Jaysus Bloody Keerist, this needs to be put up again and again to remind us how those effing bastards in the “Born to Rule” class will stop at nothing and never cease to try to destroy our icons of cultural heritage and our heroes of rebellion against tyranny..The latest piece of subjective … Continue reading

La Classe Décontractée. (The Casual-Class).

The rising of the interconnected but dis-connected entrepreneurial internet class..:The “Gig Economy”.. No flag, no ideology, no nationality, no loyalty…..no security save capital shifting from tax haven to tax haven. Description : “The New Class Rising Podcast was created of today’s struggling Middle-Class. You’ve always followed life’s advice – you’ve gone to College, put in … Continue reading

The Social Contract between Humanity and Measured Time.

Edward Gibbon’s assessment of the “Golden Age” of humanity below could, many would demand, be measured against Gibbon’s social status, his time and place in history and of course..his gender. But THAT would be doing a disservice to such a scholar and artist who dedicated over twenty years of his adult life ,which would in … Continue reading

No longer “suitable to terrain.”

Poor Geoffery Rush .. Poor Andrew Broad … and all those other damned and condemned poor bastard hetero’ males who were mesmerised beyond capacity for self-control by that demon of delight, that goddess of goodness .. ; the female of the species … poor me … We are just no longer “suitable to terrain” vehicles … Continue reading

The Final Solution : The LNP. and Democracy.

The answer to that pesky problem of Democratic Governance by Bureaucracy  for John Howard floated serenely over the Australian horizon with the arrival of the Tampa with a number of refugees rescued on board..who immediately morphed into “illegal arrivals” and were dealt with by sending a detachment of SAS. Military to take control of the … Continue reading

The Advanced Society / Barbarian Intellectualism.

Pellampellamwallah, an Aboriginal woman of the Coorong. #1 The Advanced Society. In his book The Road to Serfdom, Freidrich Hayek asserts that the economic freedom of capitalism is a requisite of political freedom… with continual growth being the mechanism that feeds such “economic freedom”. So we have to propose the question : What makes an … Continue reading

The loneliness of the long distance runner.

That short story from 1959 by Alan Sillitoe, which gained fame through a film of the same name in the early sixties is still one of my favourite stories…The awakening of consciousness of class, the rebellious nature of the “anti-hero” and then that ending of the long distance race where Smith, the working class lad … Continue reading

An Argument for Writing.

I posted this piece to show my disappointment at the dearth of  apparent interest in the posting of stories and tales on a certain blog site. I based this on the sad lack of follow-up commentary and others contributions to the page. Eventually, the page was shut down due to this lack of interest. A … Continue reading

The Philosophy of STOP!

Hand halt Stock Photos, Royalty Free Hand halt Images | Depositphotos®

We’ve all had those times in our travels through life, when we’re on a roll and there seems to be no stopping us…perhaps it’s a winning streak at punting on the horses..I heard of one chap went years on such a winning streak…till it suddenly crashed and he just couldn’t believe it would end, so he kept going and going, losing and losing till he was back where he started..

Perhaps it is something more simple, where as a young high-flying, good looking, partying person, you have the option of dating more than one or even two people at once…and you start to believe you’re almost movie-star material…….until a chance meeting between one or the other persons in your dating life and then . . .

Yes, you get the drift…we’ve all been there one way or another..but the curious thing is not being able to read the signs that it is all getting way out of control and the best solution would be to pause right there in your actions and …. STOP!….STOP right here, right now…don’t go a step further, gather those thoughts together, sit down and work it through to where the current line of action will take you.

When we look at the actions or policies of, particularly, conservative governments in Australia, we see a momentum of hubris that builds from the first days of coming to office, where there is a surge of enthusiasm to purge uncontrollably those policies of the Labor govt’ to the point of breaking every election promise, every reassurance of trust and integrity, until they move on to the inevitable blunders and corruption..a seemingly endless caravanserai of plunder and rapine of social and economic essentials.

With the business community also, riding on the coat-tails of such a govt’, CEO’s mindlessly granting multi-million dollar bonuses to themselves and their favourites until the companies they lead and rely upon for their living standard begin to totter and collapse under such insatiable greed..”When first the tottering house begins to sink, thither goes all the weight by an instinct”…Even private citizens, investing their retirement superannuation in property to rent or speculate on or negative gear in the search for ever more wealth..and of course, those famous “Franking Credits” cabal of parasites again investing their retirement monies in stocks and shares know no limit to their slavish hunger for more and more!…until suddenly they discover their financial adviser or bank has been leading them down the garden path and they smack themselves on the forehead for not seeing the obvious…they should have done a STOP!…and considered their options..but too late.

No….we have to incorporate the philosophy of STOP! Into our culture, into our creed and into our deepest psyche to pull us up BEFORE stepping into the abyss. But how do we know just when the fall is coming so to be warned?

I’ll tell you..

It’s that moment when you are about to commit to action a deed or statement and you are in such a euphoric / confident state of mind that you think ; “No-one will notice”…or “This won’t affect anything or anyone”..or “This’ll be funny” and you blurt something out and it all goes to shit in an uncontrollable way in an instant. I call such moments “ Self incontrovertible blunder” …a thing coming from your own “left-field” and yourself watching / listening to yourself saying / doing a thing whilst simultaneously thinking “what the hell am I doing?!” …there is that split-second moment in the hiatus between the actual action and the framing of what you are going to do where your logic/reasoning capability says..or OUGHT TO SAY …STOP!….just fucking STOP!…….don’t be so stupid!….and after all, stopping demands no effort, indeed, it could be described as “inaction”.

We’ve done this as well..and congratulated ourselves later in dodging a bullet for the deed. We have to be able to recognise that split-second moment and be able to mentally put on the brakes to STOP! I would suggest practicing by creating mock scenarios and recognising the moment when STOP is needed. There are also opportunities on social media platforms like Twitter etc. where you can bait a conversation to a point where it is getting out of hand and then execute a STOP moment by pulling up and giving ground to the person / s you were baiting…such an exercise is easy to set up and to wind down so that you do not come under suspicion of trolling and perhaps your sudden admission of compliancy would be seen as altruistic and you get complimented for a conciliatory action…but such an exercise would be more recommended for the experienced “player”..and I’ll take my own advice here and STOP! Before I go too far..

The recent shenanigans in America is a perfect example where the Philosophy of STOP! Ought to have been enacted…perhaps as far back as 2016 when Trump could not help himself as he played to his own ego and plunged into the vortex of national destruction. Here in Oz, we can now witness a similar scenario in regards to a leader who has neither ability to fore-see, nor capability to fore-bear catastrophe or corruption and as far as one can see, no time soon will his mental faculty nor his political advisors put a brake on the runaway controversy of reckless governance and say STOP!..just bloody well STOP!……………and let the nation and it’s battle-weary citizens take a breather and stop the forever grinding machine.

Yes, there is need in an age of increasing “just in time” economics for this new philosophy..never before have we had need to STOP! And reconsider our work opportunities, our social positions and our relationships in a time of epidemic and lockdown.

We must embrace this Philosophy of STOP!

The Lost Blend.

The old alchemist Painting by Lorange | Artmajeur

I have almost resigned myself to the fact that I may never more be inclined to write another story, nor to record local history events. I am afraid that, like my mother foresaw in her later years, there comes a time in one’s life for “the end of stories”.

https://freefall852.wordpress.com/…/23/the-end-of-stories/

The rapid onset of this covid19 pandemic has, I suspect, accelerated a change in attitude toward the telling of stories…and where once I would write of characters from a recent past generation, using storylines of a recent past era and with a style of the “author as objective observer”…such a genre and style is now also of a thing past..the covid19 lockdowns and restrictions have created a population, I believe, that has shrunk more inside itself..become more insular, more introverted…where once I would describe my style of writing as “they and those”…now there is more a demand for “me and thee”…the author now more a “subjective participator” in the story itself, becoming a central character themselves and the reader, vicariously joining the author in a kind of “identity persona” in the plot and storyline.

Mind you, I doubt the passing of Joe Carli as author will create even the slightest ripple in the calm mill-pond of Aust’ literature, but what is happening here is a bigger picture event..I believe we are witnessing a decline in cultural renovation that begun with such cinematic classics as “Sunday too Far Away” on through to the cheekily arrogant “Crocodile Dundee” and a host of Art-House delights in Indigenous films that demonstrated a rising confidence in risk-taking in the Arts…But now we are seeing that risk-taking that is the proving-ground of cultural confidence being wound back and mainly “safe-house” genres of performance and bottom-line payables are being considered.. a tragedy in itself.

It’s the price we pay with conservative governments holding the purse-strings of artistic development…conservatives who most likely have little artistic imagination beyond a mental picture of ANY art other than that metaphoric Nordic “fat-lady-sings”.

I have been challenged many times to describe what exactly is Aust’ culture…and of course there is this perception that there really is no solid foundation that can be called “national cultural identity”…I disagree..after all, I grew up amongst it..and like all national cultures, you can’t really pin it down to an absolute..to point a finger at something and say “THIS” is Oz culture..because it is a “moveable feast” as Hemmingway described Parisian society back in the 1920’s…and you can read of it in Gertrude Stein’s  “Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”…but it is there all around us in the cynical strine of the rebellious individual against conservative social structures..the “won’t take shit” confrontation of both vulgar boganism and wry witticism of the clever wordsmith..We see it in Kelly’s “Jerilderie Letter” and in front-bar repartee..

A bloody excellent example of the latter was Gough Whitlam’s sudden interjection at a Town Hall meeting to Sir Winton Turnbull (a Victorian MHR) who was raving and ranting on an adjournment and shouted ‘I am a Country member’… Whitlam interjected with : ‘I remember’…Which brought the house down!

It is this singular style of twisting the language from straight understanding to sardonic irony..that is inherent in every dialect and ethnicity..but has been given freedom of expression in this expansive, wide-open country that (ought to and once DID) allows broad interpretation to both logic and lies with neither fear nor favour and has the ability to liven the conversation in any room. This freedom of idiosyncratic, laconic expression is the foundation of many iconic stories and displays in book or audio/visual art…Sidney Nolan’s “Ned Kelly” series springs to mind, as does Russell Drysdale’s “The Cricketer”, with the stark image of the individual batsman lighted against the imposing backdrop of the huge structure there..truly a contrast of determination against odds in a lonely landscape…likewise a short story I remember of Peter Carey’s “The Windmill in the West”.. and that hilarious song by The Tennants ; “You Shit Me to Tears” …. of the individual battling a lonely vigil against seeming impossible odds..yet battling on…a central theme in many Lawson stories like “Water them Geraniums”.. and I would like to think that I too in my own humble way, have carried on with that tradition..strength of character vs. imposing power of the seeming inevitable.

But now things have changed..that window of voyeurism on the past has shut and a new window brought about by the immediacy of confrontation of both covid pandemic and a distinct change in social confrontations of extreme politics and gender issues…neither of which allow contemplative reflection on history. In my case of “where to from here?”.. I cannot find a sympathetic connection to a rising generation that places “self” at centre and “them” on the outer with accusatory condemnation..for there seems so much injustice in our immediate vicinity, that there must be at least someone to blame, even if that someone is a closest companion..Myself..call me old fashioned..but I like to sling my arrows of accusation at that old bogeyman ; the conservatives..after all, their style of stubborn refusal to admit even ethnicity into their comically insular environments gives opening for any number of “taking the piss” moments.

So I have to accept that a rising generation that is more inclined to demand that the 1st person singular be central to plot and character, has little interest in a broader picture of the wider complexities of work and the outside world around them…truly, the vicissitudes of life that were once grist for the “mill of life” of a hardy pioneer generation have now become a means of income for a legion of New-Age therapists servicing the vainglory of a materialist / consumerist society…

And good luck with all that!

Ps. The title for this piece comes from a O’Henry story about a couple of shady characters seeking vainly for the blend of ingredients for a cocktail of accidental mixing that created an alcoholic elixir of sublime delight…worth a read..

The Making and Marring of a Baby Boomer.

Mick..A character study.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people can compress the whole spectrum of human emotions re. disgust, despair, weariness etc. into a short, sharp comment. “Jesus wept!” Bubblehead passed his hand wearily over his eyes. Mick had just that minute walked through the bar-room doors. It had been nearly one year since Mick … Continue reading

Mrs. Hancock.

It’s funny, you know…; the image of adults one has as a child, compared to the actual reality known by the adults of the time around you. Mrs. Hancock used to cut our hair when we were children…the four of us ; from the oldest brother (about 10 yrs) , down incl’ to my sister, … Continue reading

Mrs. Fookes and The Marino Fish Shop.

Let me tell you the story of another fish and chip shop owner. A woman too..not arrogant, nor opinionated or accusative…Oh, she was not a quiet retiring type. She had the voice and stride like a sergeant major..she would call for her child and he would hear her loud and clear half a mile away!…and … Continue reading

Kids, Cultural Differences and Willy Wilson’s Ferrets.

When one reflects on some of those past acts of terrorism it seems the culprits of a certain “terrorism raid” were teens from 14yrs…backed by “adults”…Jeesus..how frightening!..it would have scared the bejeesus out of us as kids, so when my big brother , with the help of his ‘Junior Chemistry Set’ purchased by the adults … Continue reading

“Static Electricity”.

I hope I have not given the impression that the only intellectual activity in the front bar of the Seacliff Hotel was “bending the elbow”…and getting inebriated?….I would like to assert that, like many front bars dotted about this great country, a good deal of instructive and philosophical comment was conducted on any given night … Continue reading

Glen and Mrs. Wright.

Did I ever tell you about Mrs. Wright and Glenn?..no?..Well, they were two “locals” down at the Seacliff Hotel…back in the old days, some of the last of that “war generation” that were retired or on the point of when we younger folk came along and taught them how to drink! Mrs. Wright was a … Continue reading

“Sos”.

“Sos.” You had to feel for Sos…He was one of those people raised in an institution from a very young child…”Minda Home”…that what it was called once, but the name was changed to ‘Minda Incorporated”…there was a personal slur in this state by using that original name…ie; to call someone a ;”minda” was to imply … Continue reading

Nan.

  Getting back to that “Last Supper” thingo…you notice (as have many others) one of the “Apostles” looks remarkably like a woman…well, that’s because she is!…It’s no secret that whenever a group of “alpha-males” gather, there is always one token female allowed into the group. She is there as the “straight- man” for their confabulations … Continue reading

Jasper / The Tank Sisters.

Jasper was a “Balt’ ”..ie; he was of those states centered around the Baltic Sea..perhaps he could have been Estonian…he was a tall ponderous sort of chap…with a long serious gaze, with one of those what are called “lantern jawed” faces. He always spoke in a slow , carefully chosen word way..I don’t wonder many … Continue reading

Jim..A character study.

  A Sunday reflection….stories from a “wasted” decade. Henry Lawson once said the if you were drunk more than twice a week, you were never sober…using that as a premise, I can confidentially state that many of us boomers in the seventies were rarely sober! The story goes that Jim, on visiting the dentist to … Continue reading

Toothless.

Toothless wasn’t really toothless…it’s just that she had a plate that filled the gap of three missing front teeth, that she would click and clack and sometimes push out with her tongue …an unfortunate habit that gained her the nickname of “Toothless”. She was ahead of her time for those days, as she didn’t carry … Continue reading

Steve.

Steve . He was a study in tragedy…because of what he had become from what he once was. In the early days, you’d see Steve sitting in a tatty, stuffed lounge chair in one of the many dives and squats he frequented down “The Bay” (Glenelg) , his acoustic guitar cradled in his lap, a … Continue reading

Billy Guy.

Billy Guy wasn’t so much a mystery as an enigma…and that only because he spoke with such a thick Scottish accent that nobody could understand a word he said. Mark could claim that he knew him best, having spent a whole evening drinking with him, conversing with him while both were in an inebriated state..but … Continue reading

Erroll’s Prawn Night.

The “Pub Gathering” was interesting , if for all the other things, the Hotel where it was held. I have “history” with that establishment…lesser so than my old “alma puttana” ; The Seacliff Hotel…it was There that I forged an alliance (however accidental) with Beelzebub!….ahh!..the “demon drink” did for all us youth in THAT den … Continue reading

Jack Mitchell.

Jack Mitchell shared the family home with his two sisters after the parents passed away..none of them ever married. Not that there were ever any suggestion of  dubious behaviour amongst them one way or the other, it’s just that they never married..though I was told by a person who knew him,years later that “Joking Jack” … Continue reading

To The Lighthouse.

“One must forgive the young their foolishness, for without them, there would not seem so much wisdom in old age.”…Socrates. Ah!..Friday nights, didn’t we look forward to them. But we were young and carefree in those days. A group of us young bucks would meet after work at the Seacliff Hotel on Fridays and imbibe … Continue reading

End of stories.

Steve.

Man playing guitar and a woman with phone — string instrument, guitar  player - Stock Photo | #124366722

Steve .

He was a study in tragedy…because of what he had become from what he once was. In the early days, you’d see Steve sitting in a tatty, stuffed lounge chair in one of the many dives and squats he frequented down “The Bay” (Glenelg) , his acoustic guitar cradled in his lap, a wide smile on his fragile delicate featured face, and he would be engaged in an enthusiastic esoteric analysis of the meaning of life with any young lass nearby…these young women were usually itinerants passing through the squat and were themselves in search of that elusive “me”…most of them were in reality middle-class hippies escaping from stultifying pre-war generation parents who wanted to see them betrothed and off their hands and into a “good marriage” w/kids before they were 25 yrs old…So they were out for a bit of adventure armed with bright eyes, an experimental nature and a regular supply of the pill.

Steve was keen to assist in all facets of their education.

And so he cultivated this air of the “wandering minstrel  I ” with a repertoire of light, airy conversation, a mix of rote-learned poetry, a permanent smile and keenly agreeable nodding head with a rising crest of wavy hair brushed so it resembled the southerly break of surf at Boomer Beach…and a regular supply of nefarious substances he was willing to share to these “soul mates”.

Steve always had that guitar handy and now and then he would pluck…not a complete tune…but bits and pieces of chords…he’d place that rolly-ciggy in between his lips, squint his eye from the trickle of smoke and concentrate on striking up a bar or two from a known song..but that’s all he’d do…a bit of a recognisable chord or a bar or two…and then he’d interrupt his “playing” to extract the cigarette and place one palm over the strings and extrapolate on the musicology of the unplayed piece.

He really was impressive in his knowledge of the deeper meanings of those songs.

He drove from squat to pub to dive to party in an old Austin A40 convertible..and it suited him..the paint was faded, the bumptuous shape contrasted against his willowy youthful form, and the fact that it was a convertible meant that he could place that guitar in a conveniently visible place in the back seat…just in case it was needed.

This lifestyle continued for some years, right up until the mid-seventies, when both grotty squats and free-wheeling hippy girls started to be hard to come by, and Steve now a tad older and showing his age, never being the most employable type of person, was reduced to couch surfing on friends benevolence and trying to chat up the girls who frequented the bars in the Seacliff Hotel..His fortune in both categories was soon exhausted and he started to take more drugs and in consequence look more seedy.

His once-brushed wavy hair grew more lank and he substituted brush for Welsh-combing..His once boyish laughter now became more a hardened shrill and that wide smile a cruel grimace..the end game was approaching.

One of the last times I ever saw him, was at the front bar of the Seacliff Hotel..he’d been living in a distant suburb so had not frequented this side of town for a while..Now here he was sitting on a bar-stool in that girly cross-legged manner he always had, the rolly in hand and the other arm pressing down on a slim leather satchel on the bar top…I said my greetings and passed the usual idle chatter with him, but the leather folder drew my attention..

“What’s in the satchel…sheet music?” I pointed.

“This..” he said in a secretive whisper “Is my evidence”. He smiled his “new smile”.

“For what?” I persisted.

“For a claim I intend to bring against my ex-landlord..” and he gently tapped the folder “It’s all recorded in here..every leaking tap or faulty door lock..I’ve got them all listed down…oh yes..he won’t get me that easy…”

And he proceeded to relate to me the ongoing conflict he had with his last landlord and why he was thrown out of the old shack he was renting…It was a sad tale of the obvious..and Steve ticked off on his grubby hand, every perceived insult, every incriminating action, every bit of “evidence” that he was sure would secure him a hefty compensated win in any court of law..of which it was only a matter of time before he would “consult his lawyer” and . . .

Steve had almost lost his mind…and that guitar he would always have by his side was nowhere to be seen…I remarked upon this anomaly later to Mark..

“Nah…he pawned it to buy some “gear”…”

“That’s bad luck, he must miss the playing.” I whimsically observed.

“What playing?…” Mark snorted “ He was lucky he could put those chords together that he did!..I was there when he first bought it from the pawn shop..he never could play a full song, it was just an image he projected for the girls..”

I nodded a disappointed face and went back to my beer..it’s never good to see anyone fall from grace.