Saturday, February 23, 2008

I heard the news today oh boy

I was a very serious young thing at university. It was an era of Political Correctness, a left wing code of cool. We argued about how to rewrite women without the “men” in it (with ‘i’s and ‘y’s or perhaps just wear overalls and grunt it instead). I argued with the colleagues at the uni radio station about banning a certain Violent Femmes song because it debased wimmin (what the song actually was eludes me now after looking through the rather innocuous lyrics in the early Femmes albums – maybe we were just incensed about men taking the name?).

I’d shared houses with people dedicated to changing the world (at least one actually succeeded in that but he was very crap about doing the housework and would allow his girlfriend to pop over and do a spot of vacuuming when domestic tension teetered on a Cold War). In retrospect, I don’t care who cleans the toilet – as long as it is not always me.

When I hopped off the plane in London with my one way ticket, I was outside the South Africa embassy at the regular Friday demo against apartheid by the end of the first week. And what a wondrous first date that was for a PC womyn like myself. I’d landed myself a good lefty lad about town the day after I arrived with talk of all things anti-Thatcher and going to Columbia to pick coffee.

Said lad had good PC credentials as an ex-NUS president (oh for the days of compulsory student unionism, how on earth will future Members of Parliament earn their “P Plates”?) and now worked sedately as a media officer in a government organization. He knew the right language though to sweep me right off my jetlagged little feet, well, til I got my travelling shoes on that was. But he had one recreational habit I found most strange at the time. After trawling the press inside and out all week – he like to do nothing better on a Sunday morning than nip out for the “News of the World” and devour it in bed with a cup of coffee. The UK had so many worthy papers, with weekend supplements that could keep a homeless person insulated against the toughest winter; I found his love of the NOTW quite odd. I mean it had “Page 3 Girls” and other traditional abominations – what kind of male feminist was he?!

As I soften with age I finally get the joy of the tabloid headlines. I can shed some of that misguided seriousness and replace the frowns with a laugh. Just this morning a Daily Mail headline made my day, “Dumbledore and the bed chamber of secrets: Sir Michael Gambon's menage a trois with his wife and (much) younger lover” washed me with this wave of affectionate nostalgia and had me running to TNOW for some belated entertainment.

I am so glad to see that little piece of Britain hasn’t changed much in all this time. It’s bread and butter continues to be tales of romps or ‘three-in-a-bed”, washed down with a large helping of sport. I’d take out a heritage order to prevent the Sub Editors from getting any whiff of political correctness. What a delight to read “From Bobby to Nobby" - RANDY copper James Eardley makes an arresting sight—as he whips out his truncheon in sleazy porn films. And yes - there's a threesome in the text!

Somehow slipping between the sheets with "The Age" will never be the same again.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008


New free ezine Design For Mankind - edition one: Inspiration. Very pretty.

(Can you tell that I've got a "girl cold"* and have taken to bed with a purring cat and a macbook full of podcasts today?)

* Not a man cold just the regular female variety, can function but feel a bit crap.

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get out your magnifying glass

I'm not usually lured by tabloid headlines but was curious by The Age's tag Kidman Shows of Baby Bump".

Is that a bump or has she just eaten lunch for a change?

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

I am from

A little exercise called I am from, via Pixie and Kirsty.

I am from black and white TV with only one channel, from Tip Top Bread and the Edmonds Sure To Rise Cookbook.
I am from the wheetbix box house, in a tree-lined valley, where the tuis sing.
I am from the gorse, form the ferns.
I am from picnics by the river, from worshippers of the Sunday roast, from Shirley and Agnes and Mabel.
I am from the tight-lipped and the loose mouthed.
From older siblings who told me to scream in the tunnels but laughed when I did and the tooth fairy, who slyly swapped a silver coin for a baby's tooth.
I am from those who mouthed the words of hymns and hated wearing hats.
I’m from white bread flung throughout the British Empire, afghan biscuits, a beer before lunch on the weekend.
From the dark skinned Grandfather who I never met, an alcoholic baker, from the Grandmother traumatised by “The Troubles”, from the Mother with skin scarred by burns, serving time in a hospital which rewarded her with diphtheria and isolation.
I am from the soldier’s diary with terse reference to gas, rats and shrapnel, the photo albums packed with monochrome snaps of tropical lands, monuments and aeroplanes, the memory of 3 kids to a bed, the stories told and those untold.

I am the unplanned one, the youngest of am ever-shrinking family, the end of the line, the last branch of the tree.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

more fallout from the leader of the opposition's claytons apology

A member of the stolen generation is upset that her story was quoted by Brendan Nelson in his misguided speech in response to the Apology. Faye Lyman's name was used without authorisation and the quotes were used out of context, causing the woman great distress.

"I feel like I've been stolen all over again and I am so ashamed he's done this to me." Faye Lyman

It seems that one of the few people who are happy with the speech is Tony Abbott (chillingly the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs) but then again having Nelson look like a total prat improves his chances in any future leadership coup. No wonder he's smiling.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

are you a sheep or a goat?

No need to post appears I have written it all before. More than once.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

we're all sorry (except Emma)

Update: 14.2.08 9.38 am - a bit of live blogging

The Prime Minister's speech bought me to tears in places, in short an unconditional apology, no excuses, it was wrong and we want to make it right. Let's hope these good words turn into action to really "close the gap".

However, am mid the Leader of the Opposition's reply - he started well but veered off quickly into 'good intentions' excuse. Someone with greater time and energy, I'm sure, will do a proper analysis of his speach. Unlike the PM he's clearly stated that there will be no financial compensation.

Now Nelson is bringing up the cobbers going to war, aboriginal and non-aboriginal Australians lying (dead) beside each other on the battle fields. But stops the story there and doesn't go into how we 'rewarded' the aboriginal men who'd gone off and fought a war that wasn't theirs - by not giving the vote or equality and continuing to remove some of their children until the 1970's. He failed to mention the small issue of those aboriginal soldiers not getting the same pay.

Next he moves the speech to a defense of the Howard government's horrendous interventions last year.

The tears are dry now and am feeling angry. The PM's address to the Parliament made me feel good about being an Australian for the first time since I took citizenship over a decade ago. Nelson's response has reminded me to not stop the rage until change truly occurs.

(and now I must run off to work, very late!)

The wording of the official apology to the Stolen Generation is out and ready to roll tomorrow.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology motion has been tabled in Parliament:

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australian.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have changed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country.

It’s a damn good start.

However it seems not everyone seems to think so. On facebook some members are choosing to set their status as “is sorry” tomorrow. One young woman felt so strongly against it she posted this on the site:

PPL who will put Their status as "is sorry" tomorrow are all fucked in the head, we didnt do nething wrong. RUDD is just fucked in the eye. He should be speaking for all of us. Fuck saying sorry for somthing we had no control over it. So fuck saying sorry!!

That’s right people, Emma a fun loving Catholic gal from Melbourne believes we didn’t do nething (sic) wrong.

So perhaps we aren’t all sorry yet.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

backyard treasures

The Not Boyfriend rushed in excitedly amidst digging postholes for the new fence. In his hand he held a small amber medicine bottle bearing the inscriptions “Morses Indian Root Pills”, W.H.Comstock” and “Dose 2 to 4”. For years the garden has yielded endless oyster shells, the odd bit of ceramic and other suggestions of prior inhabitants of this turn of the century terrace.

Being a bit of an historian and having more than a passing interest in plant medicines, the find peaked my interest.

Indian root is likely Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus), a common herb in Native American medicine used as a laxative. Most cure-alls from the 18th and 19th centuries were alteratives, blood cleansers and the like – meaning they largely worked on the bowel or other eliminative organs. The Morse would be “Dr Morse” the patented name used by the maker Comstock. Interestingly it appears there really never was a Dr Morse who formulated the pills. The originator appears to be a Mr Andrew B. Moore. Comstock and Brother even went to the lengths of fabricating the story of the fictitious Morse discovering the elixir, complete with photographs of the good doctor and his family. The fascinating history of “The Comstock Patent Medicine Business and Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills” is available online care of the Gutenberg Project.

Comstock’s Morses (sic) Indian Root Pills were first manufactured by the American firm in the mid-1850’s but their popularity peaked in Australia in the 1920’s. An Australian calendar for 1927 bore an advertisement for the pills claiming them to be "Australia’s National Remedy”. Perhaps too much white flour, lamb and lard makes this a constipated nation?

But we won’t be calling “Time Team” just yet, as the Comstock Indian Root Pills are one of the most common bottles found in Australia, with minimal value.

If you are interested here is
Another Aussie site
featuring the pills.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008



Saturday, February 09, 2008

the delights of inner city life

In the night I weave in and out of sleep to the sound of an argument far away. An angry man and another softer, yet urgent, voice. I think it is on the street around the corner and figure they will keep on walking and move away.

At an hour earlier than I would like it to be, a door bangs loudly. Either a backdoor to one of the many houses that edge onto the lane that my bed is a mere couple of metres away from, or the hastily made gate that locks up a renovation further down the alley. For more than 6 months I’ve needed no alarm clock as I awake to the rumbling of the builder’s old ute backing down over the bluestones. Even on a Saturday.

Now there is shouting again and I realise it is the bullying man who is faceless but lives in one of those homes abutting my laneway. He shouts relentlessly at his partner, muffled this time by a cool morning, meaning mercifully their windows are shut for a change. In summer their arguments are usually staged in their small backyard while their son sleeps at the other end of the house. At 1am when I would prefer to sleep it is not unusual to hear the domestic drama play out spitting distance to where I would otherwise be sleeping,

Such a vicious argument before breakfast is unusual for them, or worse it means they have been at war all night and what I had thought came from the street was just the neighbours having an almighty row. Thankfully the latest round is short lived, though not brief enough for me to fall back to sleep. At times I am tempted to call the police. Though there isn’t any audible evidence of physical violence – just unpleasantness.

I know neighbours should not get involved. It is just part of the delights of inner city life where a raised voice mimics a radio play. I just wish they’d change genres. Or even better – he’d leave.

What keeps people together through such happiness? Just because her voice is quieter, does it mean she is the victim? Women have been known to invent all sorts of nastiness. We are crafty and good at locating emotional Achilles Heels. But even if she spits soft arrows of venom, does it make it ok for him to release his tirade? It is exhausting just having to witness it from a distance. At close range his anger would be very frightening.

This is a neighbourhood known for its baristas and leafy parks, not guns or knives. Street violence is rare and even the junkies have had the decency to move on now the phone box from which the dealer did his doings has been removed. Tightly packed in our little terrace houses we get used to the spillage of light, sound and smells emanating from one home to another. We learn to tolerate each other as best as possible (except for the active octogenarian on the other side who puts up with little – weeds escaping from my garden, the siting of the new washing line, cats straying onto her property). We do not get involved in domestics.

It is not a decision that sits easily. Next time, I just might call the cops.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

not happy Peter

Ex-Midnight Oil front man and crusader for the environment once again disappoints his old allies.

Garrett gives thumbs up to bay dredging.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

updated links

I am a very slack housekeper. At long last I have updated my links. I am always reluctant to remove a link in the hope that a blogger will return one day. Cruising my Bloglines and other lists of favourites on the trusty MacBook I feel nostalgia for some bloggers missing in action - Greg the boyfriend, Fluffy as a cat, the jaded DJ, the flying kiwi.

In the links you will see that I come out as a peruser of craft. Strange as I have zero skills in that area but there is something fascinating about watching the industry of others.

All things food and food link related is of course in my own dedicated blog confessions of a food nazi.

Feb Fast Update
In the first day and a half I have had 3 social offers to consume some of this

(including a very delightful blog meet) but am valiantly soldiering on. Though a friend, who I'm sure never had any intention of Feb Fasting unless she happened to fall into a coma, texted me at 6pm on the 1st to inform me that her fast had lasted to only 5.30 on the first day.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

not quite Feb Fast

I’m raising a glass of sparkling mineral water to all those embarking on a grog-free month, with a special shout out to the odd bloggers who have gone public about joining Feb Fast.

I heard about it first through RRR and a little delving into the organization has shown it to be sound and worthy – using the idea of going alcohol free for a month to increase awareness about substance abuse issues and fundraising for the cause.

The site points out a few factoids like:

In Australia, the annual cost to the community of alcohol-related social problems was estimated to be $7.6 billion in 1998-99.

It is estimated that 459,400 Australians consume alcohol at levels considered to be high risk to health in the long-term (AIHW 2005)

The impact of alcohol problems upon workplaces in Australia is significant, costing business at least $1.9 billion per year.

The Significant Eater and I have contracted to avoid alcohol this month with our own prearranged exceptions – interstate/overseas visitors (it’s OK Pixie I’ve got a leave pass for our time together in Melbourne!) and a birthday. I’ve also sponsored a couple of people who are going the whole hog.

So I’ll just have to wait a few weeks before posting about the lovely raspberry infused vodka I’ve made and darn it, no mojitos with the duty free tequila I bought back from New Zealand.

Here’s to a healthy and happy month.

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