With love betrayed, all reason to stay And substance for existence gone. Now…; falling, falling away.. Without sound nor purpose, To lay like Autumn leaves forlorn, On the forest floor… With our eyes turned From salvation’s door, Do we strike out alone, down barren roads? Under the stern disdain Of the slight of Aphrodite.
They stole the mythology of the Garden of Eden story..those Abrahamic religions..it wasn’t “God “ who was betrayed and then exiled Adam and Eve from the garden, it was Aphrodite…for she had given those two souls the primary gift of mutual affection and even more..; the gift of love..a sensuality denied to even the gods themselves..for it was their hunger that created the mythology..just to dwell on an ideal of mutual co-existence in an aura of sensual emotion..THAT was the heaven promised…and it was more than enough..But then not enough for the flaw in the human condition that desired an evil dominant even over love..: Power.
It was that perverse hunger that lost us our “Garden of Eden”. For what is the point of wanting power?…like trying to grasp a fist-full of water..it never holds or lasts long , too soon to be lost or taken from ones grasp by another soul greedy for power..Show us a history where example demonstrates any permanence of control. There is none..just some sad lineal descendants of some sad dynastic tyranny of idiots and fools.
And among all the dozens and dozens of varieties of sects and religions engraved on stick and stone, the creation mythology has to be the one universal construct involving man, woman, love and betrayal…sounds all too, too human.
Given that it must be admitted, if we are to admit truth into the discussion, all “Gods” are just an extension of human want and desire to relinquish the burden of responsibility to another without conscience or ethical culpability. And if we now admit that these current Abrahamic “Gods” have not the power even to save the life of one helpless child from drowning..not ONE..then what power do they have? ..Nought but a child’s dream.
We might as well revert to the worship of the Pagan Gods..We have to get back to that original “Garden”. At least those Pagan Gods had a fragility of personality similar to humanity..we were almost back there once.
Those ancient Greeks and Romans had the right idea about gods..you place them in situations where they will best serve the needs of humanity..The Greeks had many gods, but in the depths of their souls, they did but truly revere one only..”Tyche” ..; the god of fate / fortune / luck….and Nemesis was not far behind!
In Rome, Julius Caesar, when warned by the Auger that the gods did not favour his war on the Senate, he replied the : “The gods will make the augers favourable when I require them to”.
From Edward Gibbon : “Decline and fall…”
“The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord. The superstition of the people was not embittered by any mixture of theological rancour; nor was it confined by the chains of any speculative system. The devout polytheist, though fondly attached to his national rites, admitted with implicit faith the different religions of the earth. Fear, gratitude, and curiosity, a dream or an omen, a singular disorder, or a distant journey, perpetually disposed him to multiply the articles of his belief, and to enlarge the list of his protectors. The thin texture of the Pagan mythology was interwoven with various but not discordant materials.”
And again from Gibbon:
“The new converts seemed to renounce their family and country, that they might connect themselves in an indissoluble band of union with a peculiar society, which everywhere assumed a different character from the rest of mankind. Their gloomy and austere aspect, their abhorrence of the common business and pleasures of life, and their frequent predictions of impending calamities, inspired the Pagans with the apprehension of some danger which would arise from the new sect, the more alarming as it was the more obscure.” ” Whatever,” says Pliny, “may be the principle of their conduct, their inflexible obstinacy appeared deserving of punishment.”
Time to reflect on the usefulness of such aggressive and violent doctrines and consider if we need to step back from the brink of intolerance and conflict to pursue a more universal sedentary religious activity complimentary to our indulgent natures. Certainly the capitalist, wealth-gathering activities of the various Abrahamic sects give bad example to the ordinary citizen who struggles with just their weekly family needs..to see the grasping opportunism of those responsible for delivering moral and ethical nuance to our culture has to be noted as how NOT to be charitable and giving…let alone “loving”!
Anyway…I quite like the idea of having a motley collection of gods and deities handy for when you go to the footy or whatever and you can call on one of many depending on the outrage against the umpire god, the left forward flank god or that noisy opposition fan two rows away from you…; May the god of the sacred “ ‘Pies” turn their hollyhocks into emus and kick their dunny-door down!…or something like that.Perhaps like our plebeian ancestors, we have to simply “walk away “ from religion and it’s constant companion: capitalism, forever.
Here’s an oldie but goldie from those more indulgent, sensuous days..:
Dear George..I have from quite a few years ago come to the conclusion that the western world..and perhaps even further than that limited realm..needs to be rescued from the suffocating and debilitating disease of middle-class ideology…that being a type of conservativism in political thought and multi-cultural acceptance and the accompanying death-blows of crazy-radical-entrepreneurial economics.
I have come to a conclusion in my own mind that about the only thing that can save our own western culture that has been transplanted to these ancient lands, on top of an existing ancient culture, is to create anew alongside those aboriginal mythologies…NOT WITH USING those ancient myths of the indigenous peoples…THEY have their own journey through time they are travelling, and our short interruption these last couple of centuries is but a hiccup in their story….But creating anew a separate…yet now joined at the hip through circumstance….mythology using the history and incidents that have occurred to US as a colonising people in this “new land”…
We need to create a continuity of story-line from the earliest days of settlement…toward the future, so as to give guidance…to shine a light down a darkened path that leads onward.
I prefer to use my working class experiences to create the hero/ heroines of this new mythology..We have no aristocracy that can claim warrior/kingship status and dominate our lives and dreams, we cannot use the middle-classes, as their “dreams” are so pedestrian that one would die of the boredom of predictability after the first page…so I use the working classes with their rough and ready incompetence / ability to “make do” where desperation and poverty stare them in the face..for there is accidental “honesty” in the desperate person who would steal and lie for the family well-being…be it clumsy, stupid or inevitably incriminating..there is a certain nobility in the struggle of the poor…so I will make them my heroes..
The demise of the impromptu story-teller , or raconteur has to be one of the greatest losses to Australian culture…with the conversion of many old-style front-bars to chic, up-market fashionista hangouts for the aspirational tradie, the loss of ‘habitat’ of these marvellous species is certain…as the consumption of alcoholic beverages is grist to the mill for the mood and pace of the yarn…sure, you can “attend workshops” where semi-professional “story-tellers” go about their business at a cost of so much per hour (cash)…but it would be like listening to the bending of plastic.
The beauty of an impromptu yarn, is that it can catch you unawares as you go about eating your lunch, or taking a sip on a beer at the bar..and the raconteur will, without visible prompting take up the “slack in chatter” and remark..something like..: “Now that reminds me of this chap up north I met many moons ago . . . “ …and there is a metaphorical drawing of ears and chairs.
I met a bloke like that up in a mining camp I worked at many moons ago…Kevin Cotton was his name..he’d be long dead by now..but Christ!..could he tell a yarn…side-splitters they were..the dust on the floor of the rough mess shed being raised with the stamping of his foot as he made a point and the rats in the rafters scurrying when his voice was raised in excitement making an exaggeration…
But he too was a man harried by the demon drink…the muse’s toll…I know of others..one young bloke down at The Seacliff was a trier…and he was good too!..but he had to pick his audience, as his stories usually revolved around too gross exaggeration for the more worldly listener and would be met with an askance glance and a mumbled ; “Bullshit!”….I’ll tell you about him someday.
But it has to be agreed, temperance and adult storytelling do not go together…
Thinking of you, George…regards.. Christopher Corridini.
I grew into and worked in the building trade all my working life..after completing an apprenticeship as a carpenter/joiner. But more of that later, for I want to tell this story in several parts..; the building up to..then the central years and now the finishing years working back toward a point of zero where I meet my alter ego somewhere in my middle life.
Whenever I arise from my afternoon kip, I lean on my mother’s old writing bureau for support to steady myself as I slip on my shoes…it is a plain wooden writing desk with a drop-down lid to write upon..it was here she would struggle to pen short stories that she would send to such publications as The New Idea…or The Woman’s Day…they were simple stories of everyday characters wrestling with love trysts or everyday problems…most likely drawn from her own experiences as a domestic in the suburbs..My mother never ventured into the tangled world of psychological intent, or working-class conflicts…her story was life through a simple lens..in complete opposite to what I wanted to imply or infer through the method of understatement and banality..though such things were evident in my Mother’s writing, they were there by coincidence..never deliberate or confected..satire was never my mother’s intent.. I doubt she would have really understood what it meant. My mother felt she occupied a secure, respectful role as a part of the bigger picture of social position, a conservative at heart, she never suffered from a feeling of complete isolation from the world of literature perhaps because of her absolute lack of institutionally albeit irregular schooled education common throughout for many in the Great Depression that I, conversely felt through a lack of the “patented education” of middle-class schooling..; the pretence of a patented education.
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 curiosity and “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 at a 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 South Australia. 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 about “all-wheel drive SUV’s” and favoured restaurants shared in a comfortable manner between themselves, 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 concerning their own Anglo-centric culture from a self-educated dago working man…..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.
Indeed, my ventures into the perceived ownership of “artistic endeavour” by the educated middle-classes have sometimes been met with open hostility and derision..to think that a tradesman should attempt the cardinal sin of “rising above his station”…the : “uppity niggah!” of a basically middle-class society raised the hackles of those lumpen wankers of the middle-class “intellectuals”. Having said that, I doubt that my works are sophisticated enough to be taken up by the “artistic” cognoscenti…there is a network, I suspect, that like any trade or profession network, demands entry at a young age and a perseverance within accepted themes to become noticed by those that matter and who will look at your work…There are many excellent writers lost in the forest of story-telling despair who cannot gain the attention of a suitable publisher…look at poor old Vincent Van…sold only one painting in his lived life…I believe…..No..I hold no great hope for the citizen body to look to my works any more than I hold hope that they will wake one day and see the cause and source of great social injustice..I cannot even get read by my own family let alone expect a multitude of complete strangers to come to my blog..the storyteller lives for the eyes that see and the ears that hear… As to the solutions of the many malaise that haunt our society, I have written reams of script on the subjects and while I still rail inside at the cruel and mindless beasts that wreak havoc, I don’t feel I have the strength to keep banging the drum..perhaps like “the end of stories”…I have said enough.
But let me reflect on my own experience of this phenomenon of dismissal that I will call The Promising Poppy Syndrome.
It’s a curious thing, and unlike the Tall Poppy Syndrome, where a person of well-known repute is attacked for being TOO obvious or famous, the promising poppy is attacked by their closest people from their own class BEFORE they can scale the ladder to known or appreciated works…when they first show signs of talent or ambition to venture into a skilled area of craft or artistic ability. The curious thing is that the budding talent is not destroyed by a more skilled operator, THAT may come later, but first they are humiliated or debased by some of their own level of class…by their peers..those who see themselves as a kind of “gatekeeper” of the status quo…always fearfully on the lookout for that most dangerous of agitators..; the “out of control talent” that may throw a spanner in the works of establishment order.
This is managed by those who themselves lack the “risk factor” in their personality to reach for that higher plane of achievement, a kind of social sloth living off the “fat” of cultural identity, hitching their wagon to the safe long-haul star of established reward and flattery..I recall witnessing just such a moment where a young, excitedly enthusiastic person, in describing a visual scenario in a moment of creative enthusiasm, who in lacking any sort of depth of higher education, mispronounced a word which was quickly pounced upon by just such a one of the aforementioned sloths and the flow of conversation was rudely interrupted while the slight mistake of vowel emphasis was sneeringly corrected with a ; “surely you mean. . . ?” and then followed by that social enforcer of belittlement..; the smug and self-confident derisive chuckle…The ruse worked and the enthusiasm of the young person died and a silence of disempowerment descended over the group..The death of creativity was complete.
The objective of conservative social order is to control the unregulated and creative person or mind, for there has never been throughout history more threatening to authoritarian order than the new idea…a new way of perception borne on the wings of the creative mind…witness Julius Caesar, Galileo, or even here in humble Australia with Albert Namatjira..a superlative creative talent that was crucified as a kind of “Black Christ” for daring to escape the conditioned cage he and his people were trapped in.
If there is no direct or deliberate cruelty in such action, there certainly is no kindness, for the humiliation that is delivered on an opportune basis can be both cutting and destructive to both the individual targeted and to any relationship they may be involved with, as each moment of belittlement chips away at the base of relationship..and it is not as if such an individual may intend to abandon their obligations and responsibilities to family and society…I recall a conversation with a fellow worker who had set aside small brackets of time to pursue their desired calling so as not to deter from family responsibilities, only to then have those moments of reserved quiet interrupted with calls to their attention or chores suddenly dropped upon their shoulders that took them away from their personal fulfilment. This created both doubt in the integrity toward their partner and a resentment to the broader relationship that ate away at the once secure bond of their marriage.
The end objective may not necessarily be to stop completely the promising poppy’s activity, just to break the continuity of practice or perfection to their chosen craft so that they never can competently work toward that perfection of the art…and once enough interruption is done, the seeds of self-doubt take over and the promising poppy grows forlorn and doubtful of its budding talent so the perpetrator can forever claim to it not being THEY who sabotaged a promising talent, but rather the person themselves lacking that certain skill that would have taken them to the next level of achievement, when in reality, what is most needed is patience in a personal space of time and silence to hone those skills to perfection.
Even in retirement, when one should have the time if also the health to pursue that long-held dream of finally taking up that task of perfecting their skills, the mischievousness of sabotage can creep into their corner..the continued harassment of “jobs that now can be done”…the interruption of that silence needed with calls to their time and person. There is a sadness in all this in that it seems to be mainly those of the working classes that suffer most the truncated ambition to achieve a dream..If I look back into the past of three female relatives..now since deceased, I am informed that they all had desires to reach for a higher objective than what their growing years of penury dished up to them..One wanted to be a writer, another a painter and the third a more pragmatic Vet….None however achieved their goal, even though they all chipped away with their hopes..and then their parents stealing away any capacity of making their lives more promising by frittering away a chance benevolence of enough money that could have set the family up with a more secure lifestyle…the selfishness of that action sealing the fate of their daughters ambitions by necessity forcing them into marriages that took away any hope of self achievement.
Society too, has means and methods of locking out those who aspire to grace the artistic pages of their country with at least a little of their imagination…Society has framed those who “deserve” their work to be displayed with a border of “recognised training” in a certified institution that “honours” their students with an embossed paper that legitimises a certain level of imagination…a certain level and no more…some go on to a higher plane, encouraged by a network of access to openings of opportunity..while most are satisfied with that certificate of diploma that guarantees at least recognition of attendance and even less application to the chore of originality.
These institutionalised “keepers of the flame”, even though their qualifications may be for subjects completely alien to the one of artistic application, say ; social science or perhaps psychology, they will STILL insist that a amateur scribbler adhere to their most strident interpretation of structural purity even while one is striving in a different direction with poetic licence…and once again the low level of mockery is applied and one can be taken back to that instance of the mispronounced word accompanied by the quiet chuckle of derision…it is why so many “approved graduates” strive for the glittering prizes handed out to the favoured sons and daughters of those “noble institutions” solid built of sandstone but resting on foundations of clay.
It must be remembered and must be held close to the heart of the dedicated and honest promising poppy that the whole world of the established status quo runs on bluff and they have neither the right, capacity nor dignity to either correct impulse or steer ambition. Far too many decent but shy artists have been crushed by the juggernaut of petty jealousy of those who want creative originality but cannot achieve it and those who never had the courage and will not gain it.
A Place of One’s Own.
Within everybody’s heart ,
There is that little pump.
And in the still of the night,
You can hear its tremulous thump.
Within everybody’s heart,
There is a little room.
Upon the wall there is a picture
Of a place we silently yearn.
To some it is just a fantasy,
A desire they can’t fulfill.
Some will strive to seek it…
Some have not the will.
And some will substitute
A lesser philosophy
To dull and blind the senses
To a love they will not see.
We will survive.
Oh the flak I got when I posted my humble scribblings on certain social media blog sites..These social media blogs claim to be some kind of reservoirs of deep philosophy and knowledge, when in fact, they mostly reflect the sad, Ms.Informed and Mr. Google searchers of authority and feckless opinion. I once put up this story of a nun who got pinched by the local copper for stealing several romance books…trashy romance..I was told this little episode of life in the hushed tones of scandal by a nun I once knew many years ago…I thought it was one of the most tragic things in the everyday work-world that I had ever heard…but I got nothing but slander in the comments section for my trouble..
It went like this..:
The Last Lingering Kiss.
“ I can’t stop now!” she gasped a passionate moan as her arms reached for him..”I’ve desired you for too many nights.”
He responded huskily, his taut, muscular arms embracing her and driving out all resistance. It was as if some strange, torrid tempest had suddenly descended down on to their bodies as they struggled to out-do one another in the removal of their clothing. He grasped her in his arms and lifted her clear of the carpet, his lips parted and he moaned as he buried his face in her soft, ample, velvet-like breasts.
“Ohh. Brendon !”,she cried, surrendering her body to his firm, impatient, maleness.”Hold me”, she quivered.
“You’re trembling”, he whispered… ”
Sergeant Tom Flannigan closed the book with a wince and a sad hiss of breath. Distracted by a sudden rising of the wind in the mallee trees outside, he gazed in silent contemplation at raindrops streaking against the window.
“Right on time,” he mumbled to himself. He was referring to those first good rains of the season. ”Tim’ll be glad he finished seedin’ this mornin’ “.
His gaze moved from the window back to the book on the desk in front of him. He picked it up wearily and slipped it into an opaque, plastic bag that contained five similar paperbacks. He then folded the top over and sealed it with three staples and labeled it :
Evidence….stolen property, Crown v’s accused : Sr. Mary Margaret : Principal / Teacher ; St Joseph’s School, West Waylong…Victoria ..Age : 43 yrs.
Tom Flannigan read back over the label, he snorted when he came to Sr. Mary Margaret’s status in this small country town and spoke out loud..;
“Principal, teacher, Also ; lay missionary, August leader of the Sunday prayers, choir organizer / lead singer, dishwasher, cook, cleaner ,bottle washer, big mother to all the god fearing god hating lonely poor beaten, broken down and out bastards between Bourke and bloody Booleroo Centre….the “ear” to the community..God have pity on her.”
He rose and with an angry tug on a hanging string, extinguished the light. The police station at West Waylong was a residential, so the distance between work and home was the thickness of a door jamb.
Tom Flannigan was one of those few who could leave their work worries behind them at closing time, besides, Tom had his own worries, for several days now, he had put off writing a reply to his fiancé, not for nothing to write about, but rather, (as she had complained of a “cold, distant feel ” in his correspondence),because of a forlorn search for a more passionate wording of his feelings toward her in his letters.
Although this was the second time around in the marriage game for Tom, it was no easier for him to overcome that word-block of emotional and verbal commitment demanded by women from their suitors! Tom scratched behind his ear as he jiggled the eggs and bacon in the pan..; what to say, what to say;
“I do love you Beth’ with all my heart!” he mumbled such clumsy sentences to himself as he completed cooking his evening meal and crossed to the table. He placed the plate on the table, and after a moments hesitation , decided that the eggs and bacon needed a bit of a “lift”…he took a small tin of baked beans from a cupboard and added it’s contents to the bacon and eggs, speaking theatrically as he did so…
“Your eyes are like the moon,.(a gesture with the hand) your lips are as cherries nah! …your lips are as…as that girl on the toothpaste ad’ nah!”
So you can see, Tom. Flannigan had his mind full of that awful doubt that trips and tangles the lovelorn. Added to this was the fact that his future bride had no intention of ever…ever living in such a distant , lonely town like West Waylong! ….
So he had no thought to ponder on why a respectable, well-educated person like Sr. Mary Margaret would steal tacky romances of pulp-fiction. There were laws in place to govern the prosecution of criminal actions and his was the task to follow those laws through.
Rule# 1 : Never confuse the laws of state with the laws of sentiment. In the morning ,Tom Flannigan would transpose the interview he had with Sr. Margaret from tape to document and pass it on to headquarters for its consideration. As far as he was concerned ; the end of the story….
” Interview with Sr. Mary Margaret… 12th August 19….
Accused of stealing six paperback novels from the “Criterion Book Shop” Main Street , West Waylong ..
Present .Sgt Thomas Flannigan.. Fr. Dennis McCarthy ..Sr. Mary Margaret
Questioning..: Sgt Flannigan..:
I ask: “Were you in the Criterion Book Shop last Friday afternoon?”
Fr. McCarthy. “You answer the questions as best you feel ,Sister.”
Sr. Margaret. “Thank you for that valuable advice Dennis,….to your question , Sgt, : Yes, I was there.”
I ask. “While you were there, did you pick up this book? ( shown paperback).title: “The Last Lingering Kiss”?
Sr. M. “Yes, I did.”
I ask. “You were then seen to place this book in your bag and walk out of the shop….Did you deliberately intend to steal it?”
Fr. McC. “Now Sister, keep in mind you have not yet been charged with any misdemeanour. so you don’t…Sgt, (He confided) I’ve had a call from Monsignor, He has suggested, not without a considerable amount of thought on the subject… keeping in mind the age of Sister and that troubling time of life for women of that age, maybe (he glances to Sr. M.) a touch of kleptomania brought on by the stress of menopause?”
I ask. “Do you wish to comment on that, Sr.?”
Sr. M. “I’d rather retain what little dignity I have left than to respond to ..to Monsignor’s …er, suggestion.” (she crosses hands on top of desk).
I ask. “Then I’ll ask again….did you intend to steal the book?”
Sr. M. (silence…turns eyes askance, blushes…then looks directly at me)”Yes.”
Fr. McC. (groans).
I ask. “These other books were voluntarily given in by you….did you intend to steal these also?”
Sr. M. (breathes deeply)”Yes sergeant, I did.”
Fr. McC. “Why Sister, Why?”
Sr. M. “Because Dennis , of a reason I very much doubt you would understand! neither you nor the Monsignor!”
Fr. McC. “It goes beyond all rational thought, Sister, that you, in particular, could have the slightest interest in these…these trashy productions!”
I ask: “Fr. McCarthy, I am at this time trying to establish the plea of the accused, I am not looking for whys and wherefores…Do you Sr. Margaret, admit to the theft of the aforementioned books?”
Sr. M. (Takes a deep breath)”Yes, Sergeant ,I do.”
Fr. McC. “You do realise, Sister, where this places us, the church, in the eyes of the community?”
Sr. M. (heatedly)” Oh damn the community!….( Fr. McCarthy leaps to his feet) and damn you Dennis and damn the Monsignor and double damn the damn Church!”
Fr. McC. “Are you gone mad ,Sister, are you mad?”(I grasp Fr. McCarthy by the arm and sit him back down).
I ask. “I must ask you , Fr. to restrain yourself, you are here only as a supporting representative of the diocese so please restrict your comments to that role….and I remind you, Sister, that all you say can and will be considered as evidence…”
Sr. M. ”Oh shut up Tom!…(She stands with fists pressed on table )and you Dennis!….both of you….shut up!…Are you blind? can’t you see we are all of us here in the same situation? (Fr. McC and I remain silent)..All obliged to serve an institution….an unforgiving, blind institution!…and..and a so called infernal “COMMUNITY!” that denies us any right to a life of our own..no!, don’t you interrupt me Tom Flannigan, I know all about your last marriage, you lost that because of the hours you spent on the job rather than with your family. The police force demanded it. The community demanded it and you ,Dennis, how many more years before the bottle claims your soul?…ah! don’t deny it, I know you only too well.. it’s written all through your eyes.. and those “Holidays” to dry out down by the coast..We’re all three of us damned to play a set-piece for the Community, the Law and the Church. (she sits wearily down)…Oh how I longed desperately to be able to go home at night sometimes to children of my own…a man! …of my own, be him hopeless, be him ugly , but be him human…just human… rather than the dried out waffling of the writings of a “holy book”!…(she pauses, stares blankly ahead, speaks quietly, slowly) do you have any idea how empty a sound, is the parched, crisp, turning of the pages of a prayer book in the quiet of an evening always alone? The three of us have committed social crimes here, only my crime is more visible….I haven’t neglected a family, nor tippled with the altar-wine…I am guilty of a crime of passion….I have tried to steal a modicum of illusion of fantasy….of lust with a man.”
(there is a moments silence as we gathered our thoughts)
Fr. McC. “But why steal the books? Why didn’t you just buy them?”.
I ask: ” Yes Sister, why did you steal them?”.
Sr. M. (sighs, leans back in the chair )”Looking back on it, I could say I don’t know..the first one was an accident…I slipped it into my bag absent mindedly as I picked up another thing I wanted to buy…but when I discovered the error later, I stayed silent..why?..; a kleptomaniac impulse….a thrill? no, not a thrill I think rather, it was a part of the desire, to steal a moment of lust, an integral component of the hunger…a hunger for the love I did not have…I believe as we grow from the child to the adult, each of us seeks that love..that particular love, most denied…perhaps we are all assigned a set amount of little crimes in this life…alongside our everyday duties, little grubby crimes, along with the humdrum of responsibility and rules..and when we step outside of that regular pattern into the more shady area of our deeds, we must accept a completely different set of rules..”Oh what wicked webs we weave…”(a bitter laugh)….I fought with myself for years against the desires…like you, Dennis with the bottle..and you Tom with the duties of the police officer in a little country town but when can one stop?…can one stave off forever the natural impulse to drop the facade of religion. of law and order?…some can…I couldn’t…anymore…I desired a passionate embrace from a man (she leans forward over the table and speaks slowly)Gentlemen,…I too, wanted a moment of being desired!..how I envied Magdalene her Christ.. and these trashy books were as close as I was going to come to it in this God-forsaken place!…in this God-forsaken church in my own human forsaken life!”
(The three of us sit silently staring ).
Nine days later.
Tom Flannigan glanced up from his desk in the office to meet the eyes of Sister Mary Margaret. He stood to receive her proffered hand. She was leaving the district.
“Just to say cheerio, Tom…and wish you luck.”
“Thanks sister…thank you and yourself.” he fumbled with the biro in his hand ,then dropped it casually on the table. “What…what will happen to you?” he asked
The nun laughed softly,
“Oh,…it’s a big institution; the church…I’ll be swallowed up in it somewhere after a little penance….I’ll become anonymous once again.. slowly ,I trust, the desire for the human touch will be “cleansed” from my soul.. like Dennis’s liver..( another chuckle)….and you ,Tom.?”
“Me!…oh, I’ll just….just carry on as usual I ‘spose.. hmm…. look, Sister, I know they are going to prosecute this case in the city, so I won’t be seeing you again….I want you to know that I erased that last part of the interview the three of us had I didn’t see it as relevant to the case and I don’t suppose it would have interested the people at headquarters ”
“Yes, I expect you are right, Tom, there are some aspects of the lives of our community leaders that are best left in illusion (she chuckled again)..a bit like a trashy romance.”
“Cheerio, Sister, cheerio.”
Here is the response I got to the placing of that story..; 8 Comments..
Corridini, I’ll give you the tip, Henry Lawson, you are not. A fluffy bit of fantasy writing, maybe, but far from believable.
My reply to Noel..:
”Corridini, I’ll give you the tip, Henry Lawson, you are not.”……Why, thank you Noel…I’ll pass that on the next time I meet Henry….”Henry”..I’ll say..”I’ve had the good oil from Cyril Connerly’s understudy that YOU are so much the superior writer than I…….like another drink, bro’?”
Now fuck off, Noel..
If we put our writing up on a public post, we are inviting comment and criticism. If you can’t take it, then you don’t have to do it. But as “Tich” pointed out, we rely on donations and readers to keep going. We must be mindful of that. On your own blog, you can do as you please. Here, we try to get along. That doesn’t mean we all agree but we try to be civil.
My reply to K-Leigh..
Passive aggressive at its best..
K is right, Corridini.
Charole and I pay good money for someone to promote our articles. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t get the traffic that we do. And without the traffic … we don’t earn the money that goes towards the site’s costs.
Telling a commenter to eff off undermines the work – and money – it takes to bring the commenters here.
My reply to Tich..
Tich…that “Noel Bourke” did NOT give legitimate criticism…he was just trying to be a smart-arse…surely you have knocked about the sticks long enough to know that..and if HE is the type of reader and commentator you want on the site, then you are lowering both YOUR standards and the site’s standard.
I might add that the petty critique he did offer was of such churlish miserableness, it wouldn’t qualify for a primary school reward star!…such a person with so mean a hand ought not be encouraged…surely?
Personally, I wouldn’t value such low capabilities as a wanted commentator…he’d desert you and the site as soon as you confronted him…but that’s your call…you know how I feel about those sort of people.
This is the real issue with Corridini’s writing: it lacks coherent argument. This makes for frustrating reading and no doubt frustrated comments.
A good writer knows what they want to say and then they say it. Saying one thing then writing about another entirely unrelated thing is sloppy and self indulgent. Even the most creative writer understands this: refer to Lawson’s poem: its one theme from start to finish.
I agree with Rosemary he would be better off with a Blog or at the very least some heavy editorial reviewing before publication. This will help the author as well as the reader.
Once again and for the last time, l’ve had it confirmed why I delete Corridini (the ego has landed).. Corridini dribbles, unread. That legend in his own headspace to me is just another pretentious wanker. So Corridini, please fuck off.
Apologies to administrators, etc., writers and commenters usually don’t piss me off to this extent, so no more, straight to the bin goes Corridini.
My reply to them all..;
You bastards are just shitty because this chap; “Corridini” ..a “fuckin’ dago”, has more of an idea of the cultural idiosyncrasies of Australian society then you Anglo’ know-alls..AND can get them down in writing…screw you all!
This endless parry of passive- aggressive banter dogged my time and my patience in story-telling, for what one most needs and which throughout my working life was viciously denied me, is the peace to gather one’s thoughts and collate one’s memory of place or incident and to then scrupulously put it down on page in a manner both enlightening and entertaining..like the moment of pause by the oral story-teller at the front-bar, beer in hand, gathering his style for the continuity of the piece..keeping the thrill of the punch-line to such a pace and tempo that brings the desired feeling of completeness to the story and the nodding of heads or guffawing of laughter..then back to the beers at the bar ready for the next one.
I am going to use this site to post, in weekly installments of around 5000. words, a book that I have written over the years..It is a “travelling history” of a facsimili of myself and those travels…for much of it is fiction and while the narrator is named “Christopher Corridini”, he like many other writer’s creations is a reflection of the author’s own character..and his blundering or awakening moments are but the scraps of memory of the author’s journey…for what was Joyce’s “Bloom” or “Dedalus” but extensions of the author himself…Bloom when bumbling along, Dedalus when in pensive or reflective mood..likewise Lawson’s “Steelman and Smith”, opposites yet one..so too is my Corridini as he tries to fathom the brutal intentions of a rapacious society.
I am going to introduce what I call “proletariat writing”..ie; story and content that follows and flows from oral telling of tale..from the lips to the page, creating, I am hoping, an “immediacy” of speech and freshness of allegory..where sometimes the real story can be found in the “atmosphere”of the listeners or readers.. The writings contained within this compendium have evolved as both stories and themes over the many years I have spent trying to convey feelings toward the corrupt and degenerate middle-classes..a class I feel no longer has either moral nor ethical qualities to continue to govern and decide our collective fates and it is in these scribblings that I found universal voice over those years that created a continuety of word and direction and you will see it as you progress the pages.
I wish you all the best in your journey.
Let us begin the tale:
A disgust with a social class that has all but destroyed both our humanity and the natural world in its scrambling for riches and avarice beyond even a level of sanity and absurdity that cannot, in even the lesser cases be tolerated.
Who or what steered the life and fortunes of Christopher Corridini..was it chance or circumstance..and also that of his parents and grandparents with a growing family impoverished by the circumstances of the Great Depression..what were the chances of a working-class family pre and post WW2. To make a good life for their family?
“Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of government; they make a desolation and call it peace”..
Tacitus ; Calgacus’ speech to his troops. (AD 85)
Part one : Christopher Corridini.
Part two : Raconteur.
Part three : Twelve Caesars.
Part four : Discourses on the “Stations”.
Part five : I give you my Tribe.
Let the condemnation begin!
To the working men and women of this world, this book is dedicated…may you seek reparation from your tormentors and deliver to them the justice they so richly deserve..
WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE!
My name is Christopher Corridini…in case you forget..I have an Anglo’ first name and an Italian surname because my mother, who was of Anglo-Celtic ancestry, didn’t mind the dago in the surname, but couldn’t abide with the Italian version of a Christian name…so I am NOT “Christofo”, but Christopher..I feature as the young boy in the early years of this story..It is I who am the Raconteur taking you on a story-telling journey in The Middle Years..those years of living dangerously. I lived through all those and subsequent years to now arrive at my seventieth year My parents are deceased, all those aged relatives are deceased..as are many of the people I grew up under…teachers, tradesmen, workers, wives and mothers..I am on my own now…things decidedly have changed…but not my allegiance to my working-class roots..My father was a stone-mason/bricklayer and I trained as a carpenter..I hold my class upbringing as a testament to the solidarity needed for a healthy, stable society.
But I despise to the pit of Sheol, the middle-classes.
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 some 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,
“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.
As a person of bronchial difficulties when a young man, I discovered that if I placed my thumbs gently into the nasal cavities and flared my nostrils with this manipulation, my inhale of breathe through the nose would be enhanced..and as a bonus, the extra air rushing through would dry the nasal discharge and alleviated the continued blowing of my nose that often resulted in a soreness and reddening of my skin there…so to allow the continued…enjoyment…of this new found discovery, I would softly scrunch pieces of facial tissue paper into a blunt, conical shape and insert these into the nostrils to hold them open…the resulting appearance gave me the look..in abstract..of a dragon with flames shooting from it’s nose..
“I trust you are not going to go out in public looking like THAT!” my mother admonished…
Of course I never even considered such..but this was an example of the small but important discoveries that made my life more comfortable…for THAT was my primary objective in life..: Comfort…or rather..: The avoidance of discomfort.
“Nov course nort” I replied with a nasal blockage twang “Nyou think I worn’t to look nstupid”.
The other discovery I stumbled upon in my younger years and continued right into old age, was the practice of when removing my clothes at night, I would NOT take the garments off in a singular manner..that is; one at a time, but rather keep them coupled by removing undershirt, shirt and jumper (in winter) in one complete batch..so to speak..and shuck them over my shoulder to sit open-throated, so to speak, ready to slip on again in the same order come morning on the floor near my bed…the same for trousers and shoes and socks…small things, yes..but things nether the less that made for more comf….no…made for less discomfort…less discomfort…there IS a difference….and again, mother had to be made aware of my preference for this form of dressing lest she uncaringly kicked the clothing into the corner of my room with a disgusted..:
“You’ve had these same clothes on for the last week…for God’s sake, they are starting to smell!”
“Only to YOU”…I would sulkily reply “I find them just worn in to my body shape..it takes about a week to get them just right.”
Of course, these little quirks of behaviour were the ones familiar to the young years..and even if they did roll over into older age, there were others gathered up upon the way through life that I would apply and maintain to keep the ferocious wolves of discomfort from my door.
These “discomforts” were not only restricted to physical things, like clothing or mechanical devices like the car or power tools…particularly tape-measures which would after prolonged use break down and the inner spring that retracted the tape suddenly slip within the device and not allow the tape to go back and one would be left with the full eight metres of rattling/crackling, crinkling useless measure all a-jumble in one’s arms…a most distressing situation when one was a tradesman…solved by having at least three or four tape measures available so that the one measure was not relied upon at any one time and reduce the possibility of being left with a jumbled mess and no tape-measure…or even into things concerning food, like taste or too hot, either spicily or temperature wise…I even developed a dislike in my later years for getting wet..not to the detriment of washing oneself, but in going for a swim or when the relatives came to visit from interstate and everyone wanted to go to the beach and wade in the waters of the low tide…a youth of growing up by the sea left me with an aversion for both the smell and the salty residue on skin of sea-water…but these discomforts also extended into my emotional life, those feelings of emotional discomfort when confronted with, say, sickness or the death of a friend or family member…having to attend funeral and wake and all those moments of (sometimes) false sympathy and the lauding to the heavens of someone even disliked when living…for in my mind, grief is like poetry…it was best internalised and experienced within one’s own body and mind…and of course, there was my first marriage with a wife who embraced enthusiastically .. religiously ..the principles of “New Age” philosophy..to the extent she became an apostle of one American guru ridiculously re-named Joice Sleeeby…the “Joice” there to rhyme both in spelling and sound with “Voice”..as in her blurb pamphlet; “The Voice of Joice!”…and the extra “e” in her surname so as to emphasise by phonetic extension, as is the usual practice of pultroonish “gurus”, the self-importance of her presence.
This worshipping of New Age practices involved the acute discomfort to myself of attending workshops where it seemed the main emphasis besides the passing from person to person of a “talking-stick” of a locally gathered tree-twig with a chook-feather attached, secured with plaited wool thread to the stick that was supposed to have some sort of symbolic meaning..was on turning adjectives into nouns..as in adding a “ness” to the adjective..so that “Well”, became “wellness”..and “Whole”, became “wholeness”..as with the “wholeness” of the thing….It was in the rolling off the tongue action at one workshop by this Joice Sleeeby of such “ness” words that I couldn’t help but slip in my own ness-word..
“Lochness” I blurted out before I could stop myself..the fraternity of new-age disciples all turned frowning to me..”..The monster…y’know?..I..I..just thought of it..” I mumbled…but it was clear the guru thought otherwise and after the session was seen to have a quiet chat with my wife.
“I am not prepared to stay in a relationship with you unless you pay more attention to what Joice is teaching us”..she sternly announced after the workshop……..and I had to agree with her and that was the beginning of the end of THAT marriage….actually, the relationship began to slip away with the recent moving of house and family to a suburb with a lower status postcode…it being a very difficult situation, y’know, to rise in social status from a lowly postcode…from, 5251 to 5152…you can see the difference, surely?…the lower the number, the higher the status..my wife harboured secret aspirations for the last of those numbered postcodes, and was prepared to sacrifice almost anything regarding our relationship to gain it! Added to THAT little obstacle was the erection by myself of a “naming of residence” sign for the new house as : “The Tradesman’s Rest”..signifying my retirement from the continuous slog of endless building work now that we had freehold ownership on our own house…it was not appreciated by the spouse who would like to construct a lifestyle to which she imagined she could comfortably become accustomed..
But also those continued demands to attend new-age workshops became increasingly farcical..and the trips to such locations, sometimes after a hard day’s physical work started to grate on my nerves…particularly as they were sometimes so absurd..
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 Bachelor whose only adult affliction was a terminal case of “lateral spine” with the attitude that most physical complaints could be cured with a good book and a good lie down to a co-habiting consumer of health foods, fads and fantasies!
But, like any dutiful spouse, I partnered this new opinion of the infallibility of “wholeness medicine” with all the best intentions.. no-one has ever attacked a nice, healthy bowl of tofu and brown rice with as much gusto as myself!….and I can honestly say to this day that the road to hell was never more solidly paved!
But don’t get me wrong, I hold as deep suspicions about “orthodox” medicine….and I have memories of the family doctor (whose child had the same Christian name as myself and also suffered from asthma) using me as a guinea-pig for any new industrial/medical concoction dreamed up as a ‘cure’….”…and he seemed such a nice chap” as my mother would say.
While the orthodox doctor may indeed bury their mistakes, the alternative pickle theirs! Having had everything from suction cups to dubious creams and healing hands smeared all over my skin, over more than a decade of compliant naivety, I have to say that such applied medicine is by far the preferred option to the plethora of applied psychology of the “empowering guru”! Yes…ah yes!…I suffered from that one too….why are they always smiling?….I gaze at my empty wallet now and I am enlightened, for while even Jesus and Socrates struggled to realise the nexus between philosophy and pecuniary interest, with the modern “practitioner”it is a seamless weld!….
When one looks back over those wide plains of time and life-experience, the entire schmozzle can best be seen as a sort of Key-stone cops bugger-up overlaid with the closing theme music from the “Benny Hill Show”…you know : Yah dah dadadadah….!
I wasn’t going to regale you with any tales but one springs to mind that will reveal all…
Our family was “encouraged” to take part in a “circle-dance” in the first moon cycle on the beach at Largs Bay..This dance was to encourage good karma to enter the soul of our bodies for the benefit of spiritual enlightenment…..I suspect…We were sitting on the sand there at the bottom of the steps waiting for “Marcie” who at that moment appeared at the top of the steps… “Oh look!..” one person whispered, “She isn’t wearing her glasses….you know, she’s been taking that potion to strengthen her vision and she has been seeing “Joice” about ‘overcoming with her mind’ so she can stop using her glasses”….Indeed, there she was, hand on the rail stepping elegantly with pointed toe straight toward us measured step by step with all the grace of a queen….we sat there in silence, in awe….then at the foot of the steps, while staring dead straight at us not more than fifteen feet away, she suddenly threw a leftie and started to walk away up the beach!…….yes..yes…blind as a bat!….”Marcie, Marcie” we called…………..
There will always be those who cannot help but seek out the oracle and worship the idol, but of course, one would be foolish to dismiss out of hand the beneficial uses of organic compounds and comforting meditations, alas, I am always drawn to a maxim from my father…: “Doctors, priests and lawyers..; one will ruin your health, one will ruin your soul and the other your pocket!” Mind you, with this “lateral spine” I suffer from, what I wouldn’t give for a damn good massage!
And in truth and in the long run, it was that driving ambition to have control by my first wife that opened up the most sublime and ingenious insight to a philosophy that would seal the direction of my destination toward an elimination of social discomfort and solve that most complex of conundrums plaguing modern life..; decisions, decisions, decisions?…which, where or what to choose?
How many times have we asked ourselves why we did a certain action, the result of which ended up detrimental to our wellbeing…no, not wellness…well-being..? After the building of several family homes and the trials and tribulations from a failed marriage which resulted in the loss of accrued collateral from the division of material possessions, this question vexed my mind for many nights. Why, I asked himself, after fulfilling the bourgeois social obligations of work, marriage, children, a home built, could things from so far outside my sphere of influence and decision making bring the whole construct crashing down without so much as a squeak of support from that very society whose “rules of engagement” I obeyed to the letter?
Chance, I decided, played a more important role in the affairs of humanity than has been given credit for..as a matter of fact, I reflected, chance is an integral part of this modern social engineered society..’yers pays yer’s money and yers takes yer chances’ the modern-day catch-cry of civilised society. This momentary diversion in my thoughts brought back an incident in younger bachelor days when I would happily place a bet on the horses. These wagers were a “penny-punter” affair as my gambling money was a quite small amount. I would ‘study the form’ on race day, a Saturday, pick the horses and go to the Totalizer Agency and place the bets then retire to the hotel to have some beers with my mates and listen to the races. These wagers were usually unsatisfactory in a winning sense and I began to wonder on the worth of studying the form of the horses…it seemed that chance, or the machinations of “fixed races” played a bigger part than the mere record of past races of any one horse..so I decided to try a different approach, partly bought on by a laziness in continuing to try to pick a specific winner and also by a simple mathematical sum…that being that in the usual fifteen horse race, there were four chances of a payout on the ticket..: First plus place, second and third…so that made the chances of getting at least ONE payout of whatever amount a roughly one in four chance if just picking a random number. But how does one pick a random number without being influenced by the opinion of the forms or the tipsters?…simple..: one takes one suite of a deck of cards..Ace to King..that makes thirteen, throw in two jokers and you got your fifteen runners..shuffle and then turn over a card and bet on the random number that turns up..three cards for winner, second and third…of course you mark the jokers for differentiation..admitedly, it was not the most complex of equations.
While this method seem absurd and quite simplistic, it worked!…I started getting extraordinary results using the method…not only winners, but daily doubles and quinellas!…even to the point where one delightful Saturday won myself enough money to purchase a cheap, second-hand car that only needed a few patches of sheet-metal pop-riveted on and “bogged” to cover the rust in the door panels..and bango! Bob’s your uncle!
This good fortune continued on for a few months, albeit in a still penny-punter way till, in an attempt to try and increase the chance of winning, I started to consult once again the form of the horses whose numbers I had randomly picked with the cards and started to change bets from those I considered hopeless to others with better form…and it was this betrayal of the God of fortune that broke my run of luck and I eventually gave gambling on the horses away completely.. acknowledging with a mea-culpa admission that my greed had let me down. .but the lesson with chance was learnedpersonalI haveplay with.
And it was this lesson with chance that I now ruminated upon in regards that bigger gamble of fortune..: Life.
“What was the point” I mused “of planning, plotting a course, making choices regarding one’s budget and work balances to only have all those best laid plans come to nought?”…and I calculated there and then that with so many millions of other people likewise scheming, planning and choosing, and in the end being manipulated by forces so far outside their sphere of control or influence, the multitude of variables that overlap, collide and determine one’s life are so legion, so multitudinous, one might as well NOT make life-changing decisions based on a false premise that we are all on a “level playing field” and in point of fact, make it a clear objective to do the opposite of – like the horse racing form – trying to pick a winner..
The conclusion I came to and which influenced ALL future decisions in my life was to not try to pre-empt an outcome, but to actually …do nothing!……just sit tight in patience, riding out the storm of chance, waiting for the dust to settle on the fracas of life around us and then to just select the best of what remained..which, as experience of the many years that had passed since I made my fortunate discovery, was the best and most beneficial decision I could have made.
I am now convinced at this my seventieth year, that civilisation as we know it is not a carefully constructed edifice, evolved from a conscious intellectual desire, but rather the result of a period of benevolent calm after military conquest and secured by the political and military power of an ethnically superior force…and then that ethnicity impresses its cultural bias via a perverted education system upon those peoples under its control…sure, it will tolerate to a certain level other cultural incursions into its dominant governance, but only until such exterior philosophy begins to gain an upper hand..and then it will either try to absorb it and twist it to conform into the dominant creed, or it will then crush it..for the ruling order knows through historical precedence that its survival as the cultural leader depends upon its capacity to justify applied laws that while appearing fair-for-all, really only satisfy in the main those citizens who fully support the cultural superiority of the governing body…and in the end, it is as Chairman Mao correctly stated, and the Roman Emperors in their own times and ways rightly understood..: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”….If we look to the conservative parties, we see example in the way so many can and do snub the decisions and opinions of the judiciary, knowing full well that the bluff of the judiciary can be called because even THAT esteemed authority only exists (in truth) at the pleasure of the ruling military power…be that power overt or covert..benign or malignant..it is there..at the ready.
The fall of Icarus has a legion of metaphorical interpretations…so I will add mine in that I believe those ancient Greeks were a bit more basic in their meanings and I too will go for the basic instinct in man and interpret the myth as a desire for the erotic and in delving too deep into the pleasures of female erotica, the young man…indeed ANY man will risk falling from grace and drowning in a despair of sorrowful loss..
Here’s several “cameos” of my personal interpretation of the place where I live. They are a personal slant and you can take it or leave it as you please….and of course : all names and references to persons are purely accidental and non-litigious…
A short announcement.
As well aware as we are these days of those “Great Moments in History” where an event is celebrated on canvas…like, say ; George Washington crossing the Delaware…or Captain James Cook bearing up proudly on the bow of the Endeavour’s whaler boat as he broaches the sandy shore of Botany Bay…or even our own Col’ Light on Montefiore Hill, with his determined arm outstretched pointing to the possible location of the future precinct of Adelaide….and how right he was!…. I’d like to draw your attention to those little moments in history…enacted in those little places way off the beaten track that, one must acknowledge, do deliver their own great moments within their own little worlds….less perhaps, “momentous” than “of the moment”!
Such an event happened on the evening of the 2nd of June 1953…..on The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd .. at the Sedan Hotel front bar, where was gathered a regular small group of loyal local blokes…many bearing the Germanic names of that peoples that had been enemies in two wars of recent memory….but wishing to scotch any rumours of disloyalty to The Crown, the publican of the hotel called for silence with the ringing of a spoon on the rim of a schooner glass and proposed a toast to;
“ Her Majesty…The Queen!”…..
THAT is the orthodox version of events…..I have it on good authority, though I will not vouch for it’s exactness of detail, that another short announcement accompanied that toast that created a certain amount of “discussion” within that small community….
it went like this..
I doubt it goes without some knowledge in these small country towns, that certain individuals practice ..habits..that are ..shall we say..of a different complexion to the mainstream. Most accomplish these little peccadilloes in the secrecy and privacy of their own homes…by themselves…of course there is a price to pay for all that secrecy…there is the paranoia that if discovered, the general consensus of “the mob” will excoriate and damn the individual in question to exile or worse….such “difference” is a heavy burden to carry..particularly if one is working every day, shoulder to shoulder with his fellows in the fields…it wears on a chap!
Such a burden had for several years weighed heavily upon one such chap amongst that gathering that evening in the front bar of The Sedan Hotel…(we shall not name names!)…He had come to the decision a week or so before that he would share this burden with his fellows and take the consequences ..whatever…he would “own” his idiosyncrasy.
He had chosen that particular evening and he had steeled himself for the occasion with rehearsed lines and solemn mood to deliver to best advantage that which he wished to say….the fact that the publican had chosen, with his unfortunate royal toast to the newly coroneted queen, the very apex of that moment, the very inhale of breath so to speak, was inconvenient, but not a deterrence…he decided to press ahead.
The silence was heeded, the glasses were charged, the toast was made..:
“To the Queen!”..”Hear, Hear!”
…the schooners were just touched to wetted lips when he made his own small announcement to the gathered circle …:
“I like wearing women’s clothes…..I always have .”
Several members of the party had to be revived after choking and spluttering on the amber fluid just then in the act of consumption.
I would not like to claim that he said it “gaily”…but rather, in a quiet, solemn voice…soft, but determined…his chin “steeled” to suit the gravitas of the moment.
You know, there are some hesitations in the general hubbub of public gatherings where a void of silence can follow momentous announcements…I’m thinking of Julius Caesar about to cross the Rubicon and he says quietly to the troops..;
“Jacta alia est” (the die is cast)..the legions, I suspect, fell respectfully silent…
..or Horatio Nelson with his famous telescope to the blind eye..:“I really do not see the signal”….
There are others…there are others…such a silence followed this announcement in the front bar of The Sedan Hotel….a full ten seconds silence…an eyewitness noted the ticking of a clock (two rooms away) for a full ten tocks…that record, I hasten to add, still stands!…I suspect the shock of this fellow navvy, this rough-handed roustabout, whom they were more used to see in moleskins and blucher-boots, informing them of his preference for women’s petticoats and finery threw some small confused images into their male minds…..it wasn’t long, however, “till the boat rightened itself”, the wave of confusion subsided and he was confronted with wide-eyed “enthusiasm”…..needless to say, his first suspicions of the possibility of estrangement, alienation and blind anger were quite sufficiently full-filled!
Sedan aspirations and goals.
Now, anyone here who has lived in a small country town will recognize the situation I am about to describe. There is a familiarity with both the pettiness of complaint and the seriousness of the minutiae of desire for redress that runs like “Orteses Thread” through the fabric of the community..and like all these little communities, a heady mix of “rumour, envy and shadenfreude” sustains all it’s members!
Into this community, there came the new CEO. of the local council to address the citizens in a “Community Aspirations and Goals meeting at the Sedan Memorial Hall, all invited w/ coffee and cake provided”. Now right there, from the start, any local could’ve told him that he could’a doubled his attendance if’n he’d offered ‘mini-savs’ on the menu! As it was , a goodly group turned up to ‘sus out’ the new CEO. I was one of that group…I had a couple of ‘goals’ of my own to suggest at that meeting!….
It went like this.
The new CEO came from the Sth East…Mt Gambier , to be precise..There is a lot of water down that end of the state..and maybe they are more used to partaking of THAT liquid rather that the Sedan locals..to whom beer and the like are no strangers! So it was as no surprise that several “known” members of the local public came to the meeting straight from the front bar of the Sedan Hotel..and I did notice that one such, with the nickname ; “Pull-through” (I won’t go into the reasons for these designations, it could be too tedious and convoluted…some though, give a hint!), skinny as he is, found the doorway a tad too narrow as he ricocheted off the jambs!
“ Now I don’t want to be sitting back in my office in Mannum dictating to the community what it will have”..the CEO began. “I want YOU..the community to tell me what are YOUR aspirations and goals for Sedan…” and here he paused for effect to thrust his pointer at several headings written on a large piece of butchers paper blu-tacked on the wall…he swept his black-rimmed bespectacled and wide-eyed gaze accusatively around the room….feet shuffled..a sign of expected comment.
“How about a ramp in the gutter there outside the pub..there on the footpath” ‘Banger’ was first off the rank…the CEO raised his eyebrows.
“Oh, so ..a ‘disabled ramp’ in the kerbing?” he suggested.
“Well…” ‘Banger’ drawled “Not so much ‘disabled’…well not going IN..coming out maybe!..” this got a few laughs..” But you can make a miss-step there and do your self some damage on a Friday night”..a good deal of nodding and cross-chatter affirmed this point..
“…broke six bottles the other week!…”was heard in one camp.
“Yes, yes..I see…mark that down Mr. Parker. “ the CEO addressed his clerk. “Some more please”.
Of course, Banger’s first foray into the pond unleashed a tirade of ideas…from the problem with puddles outside the post-office (when it DID rain), painted house numbers on the kerbs (only a small portion of the town has kerbing) to a scenic car-park on the top of Sedan Hill for the visitors to the district (this last drew a muffled gasp from the crowd for it’s audaciousness…a pet project of Mrs. Auricht) ..several more trite complaints followed. The poor CEO, expecting more in the line of aspirations than desperations was becoming impatient at the somewhat pettiness of the requests..
“Yes, yes..but I was hoping for…for…” his eyes swept the room..he saw not the least sympathy….he understood..”…NO!..put those down, Mr. Parker..put those..those ideas in that ledger of yours….ok..any more?”
I was waiting for my moment..After a short silence and the turning of heads toward each-other negatively, I put up my hand.
“ I have an idea “ I volunteered. A disapproving murmur pulsated through the crowd..my reputation had preceded me!..
” A fountain!” I exclaimed boldly..” In the centre of the ‘square’ there…we move that cement obelisk..after all it is only a street sign, not a memorial..and we put a fountain in the centre of the town..as a mark of beauty and a testament to the resilience of this community living in a dry country…I envisage (yes..I spoke like that!..I had rehearsed) a low, brimming bowl with the water lapping over a polished, curved lip..within this bowl is a tryptich sculpture of panels..three sandstone panels carved in relief with representations of (in the centre) ; The Ubiquitous Mallee Tree..flanked by on one side representations of the Indigenous peoples and on the other ; the Pioneers of the district..(There was silence in the room as I spoke..more now, I realise , from shock than from politeness!)…the entire fountain surrounded by beds of native flora….so that visitors driving into the town from any direction, will immediately see this amazing display in the middle of dryness and say ; “WOW!”…” I finished my little spiel with a flourish of my arms.
There was silence in the room..a full seven seconds silence…the record for Sedan is ten seconds!..then , like bursting through the surface of water after a deep dive, the cacophony of the world around came crashing in…a veritable HOWL of derision and outrage was flung in my direction…everybody moved away from me..of the dissenters, “Slammer” was most red-faced ..on his feet straight up..
“ Move the obelisk!?..” he raged, “..move the fuckin’ obelisk !!?..my dad helped build that fuckin’ obelisk…it’s..it’s a treasure..almost sacred!…no!..no !…we don’t move the fuckin’ obelisk!..no, ferget it!” nodding heads and cries of support for ‘Slammer’ were thick on the ground , so that the CEO. gave a shake of his head to his clerk and then decided to wrap up the meeting. I quickly made my escape.
It was about a month before some folk would talk to me in the street after such blasphemy. But I do hold second place (I believe) in the ‘Sound of Silence’ record in the community..There are some small moments to treasure with the experience of living in small country towns…I’ll tell you about them someday!
Ziedel’s secret carburetor.
There’s a lot of ; “Eee bah guumly” in this district..or there would be if they were Yorkshiremen.. as it is there’s the equivalent!…in Germanic brogue…if there is such a thing..
Was asking for a bit of background knowledge on a long deceased relative of mine from the local aged mechanic…Peter….He and his offsider ; Vern, run the only workshop in the district..have done for near on fifty or sixty years!…I don’t know…neither does anyone else…not even them!
“He was a very inventive sort of chap” ..I assisted.
“Ooo, there were a lot of them about in them days” Peter opined “There was Pastor Ziedel…he was a sort of genius…Do you know, he invented this carburetor that could halve petrol consumption in a motor..but he was dammed clever how he done it.” and here Peter tapped the side of his nose.
“How so?” I asked.
“Well, you know he didn’t want anybody to find out how he done it, so he got those little jets and seats and whatnot made in many different places so no-one person could put them all together…Ooo..he was cunning alright”
“So did you get to see how it looked?” I pushed on. Peter stopped, pulled up and looked at me in wide-eyed wonder.
“No!..of course not, it was a secret…hell, he wouldn’t let anyone see how he done it…why, if he went to any motor event, he’d take that special carburetor off and put the old one on so nobody could pinch his design..Ooo, he was cunning , ; old Pastor Ziedel.”
“But if no one saw it, how do you know it worked?”
There was a pause in the response, which told me that this line of reasoning had rarely before been broached…then ;…
“Whhyy…of course it worked…you ask anybody who knew of it…he had it on his old Holden for years…of course it worked…and dammed good too!”
“Well, I imagine some one saw it after he passed away…was it in his estate when they went through his effects?”
“No..not that I ever heard..I suppose his son threw it out with a lot of other stuff.”
“What!” I exclaimed “I would have thought it would be a very valuable item.”
“Maybe…but because the old man was so secretive about it, I don’t suppose the sons would have know what it was if’n they came across it.”
And THAT is the wonderful way mythology is created!….eee bah guum !
Got talking to Pete last Friday down the local..the subject got onto the passing of one’s parents..I ‘spose because we are both old now ourselves and it comes as no longer an immediate sorrow, but rather one lived through so many years ago..And we got onto the reactions one experiences at the funeral, what with all the rellies gathered there and the friends and some strangers one doesn’t know but is informed in hushed whispers or so later on. There is that bottled-up grief, that reserve in the English tradition, especially amongst the men to not be seen to blubber or weep uncontrollably at such sad gatherings…and the language used is interesting in its sparsity of emotion..
Then Pete, took a sup on his beer, reflected a tad, wiped the beads of condensation from one streak on the glass, looked into the distance and made a motion with his pointed finger…
“..But I do remember one chap I worked for, a builder in the financing / speculative line..stiff-upperlip sort of bloke..John M…old Adelaide family, that sort of thing. You couldn’t get an emotive comment from him if’n you smacked his thumb with a hammer…which I did once..accidently..as he was holding a length of bracing for me…hopeless at physical work..all thumbs…an I hit his thumb and you know what he said?..where you or I would’ve swore blue murder, he just spun away (dropped the prop!), cried ; “bother!” and stuck the thumb in his mouth for a second to comfort the pain…that’s the sort of chap he was…”old school Oxford”…
The job was winding down, the contract reaching near completion so there were only a couple of trades finishing some final touches to the groundworks and I was there as supervisor of the job from go to whoa. That was when John turned up. He was walking the site by himself, looking like he was inspecting the finished job…not his usual occupation..he usually waited for the handing over ceremony for that sort of thing..but there he was..Now..I knew he had been to his Mother’s funeral the day before, and I put his meandering down to a listlessness that one gets when first “orphaned”..that ;”you’re on your own now”..feeling..so to say, But I was surprised when he pulled up a drum to sit on and joined me and Keith the plumber for smoko..
John was the project builder..a developer rather than an actual builder..not your sort of tradie-evolved into builder, but a bloke from an old family with old money involved in multi-faceted projects, of which building was but one. I was his go-to man for building..I was the “knowledge-base” for that side of his investments. He would leave on-site management to me..and that included timetables, subbie hire and materials delivery scheduling..We had worked together for years, but not in a close familiar way…I was still just the “hired help”..just a business sort of thing..so it was quite surprising when he opened the conversation with the announcement that he had just buried his mother..of course Keith ( another long server) and I both knew this , but we gave our condolences kindly..and fairly, we had no gripe with the man or his family..He thanked us and then after the usual quiet on these occasions, He cleared his throat and spoke in a confiding manner..to neither of us in particular, but rather while looking at the ground somewhere between us.
“You know, it’s a funny thing, language..the expression of certain words. I have been to the best schools and university where language is treated as a sacred thing..the pronunciation, the grammar, even the timing of delivery of thought or repost..how to speak and speech, you could say…”
John went quiet while he reached to pick up a twig which he used to scribble on the ground by his feet..
“I gave the eulogy at my mother’s funeral yesterday..” he continued.” all the usual blather and history..all about the family, her work in the district and committees she was on and such like..all written there on my notes, some highlighted in yellow marker…it went over well..as I was trained to do..a solemn finish before we all made our way to the cemetery for the placing of the casket..”
John drew some hieroglyphics in the dust as he thought it out a bit..I could see all this idle chatter was taking its toll on the man..but he was on a mission to explain something to himself I felt..we remained silent..to give him space.
He continued with a sudden exclamation..
” Dammit!..You have to hold yourself together at these ..these events..it doesn’t do to make a fool of oneself weeping and carrying on..one must maintain structure….dignity..after all , it wasn’t as if my mother’s passing was a sudden tragedy…it was a long tiring business for all the family..a kindly relief for all when she passed away, to be candidly honest..for her most particularly, I’d say..so it was ..SHOULD have been a solemn, dignified affair..the placing of the casket in the grave……..except for Loretta..” John stabbed the stick into the earth .
“Loretta? ” Keith encouraged..
” Loretta”..John breathed..” Yes..Loretta..an Italian woman, the wife of one of the nephews..lovely woman, in the Italian dark- lady of the sonnets mould..if you know what I mean..It was quite a surprise for the family when the nephew returns from a working stint on the continent with an Italian wife…shocked!..you could say…a real eyebrow raiser, the whole affair..But they settled down and had a couple of kiddies and got on with the married life routine…but dammit..she’s got that “Eyetie” emotion thing in spades..weeping all over the place, at weddings and christenings and such like.. I heard tales where some have to almost be dragged from the grave before they throw themselves in it on top of the coffin…damn display to say the least!”
And here was the long silence..here was the nub of the new “congenial John”..here he became uncomfortable…
” You know, one HAS to hold oneself together as an example for the younger ones…it doesn’t do to put on too much display..and..and I was there beside Father O’Loughlin as he read the rites and the coffin was lowered down..sure, I had some tears to shed, but held in check for the dignity of the moment..but I could hear Loretta weeping somewhere behind me..and I thought I would give her husband a bit of a talking to after the funeral..at the wake..But as we stepped back from the grave to let the mourners file past to throw the bit of dirt onto the laid coffin, that flamin’ Italian woman suddenly called out a word..ONE WORD..in perfect imitation of our mother’s voice..PERFECT enunciation…here was this woman…….who could only speak a kind of garbled mish-mash of Italo-English saying in perfect enunciation that one word so familiar to all of mother’s children and grandchildren..and by time-lapsed , especially to me..”
“You see..” John continued in a kind of self-reflection tone..” Mum was a country girl and she had an infuriating habit of “cutesying” words by adding an “ee” sounding to the end..like “bunnee” instead of rabbit..she’d say ; “Oh we’re having a couple of bunnys for dinner..” and one really infuriating one she’d say when I was a young tear-away, home from the college with a friend or two and we’d been ripping it up a tad at a local dance and in the morning she’d wake us with a much too cheerful ; “Come on boys up we get ..I’ll make you some bacon and eggys for breaky..” ..it used to so infuriate me..and here we were at the final lap so to speak of the funeral, and I had held myself together so well and then that weeping Italian woman has to drop that bombshell that took me by complete surprise and …and …well ..” John threw the twig over his shoulder..” I lost it..I just lost it..Loretta just halted right next to me, looked directly at me in a flood of tears then to the coffin in the grave and wept out a string of damn indecipherable ‘eyetie’ words to finish with that one perfectly enunciated damn softly spoken parting word mother always called to us as we left her home..”Cheeriozy!”…that silly, muck-up of a perfectly good, common English word..
Loretta called out and I just lost it and I wept and wept..and I still can’t get over it..and I don’t know why..”
Then John abruptly stood up, turned around and left..without a word, but we could see the tears..
Of course, neither Keith nor I ever mentioned it again.”