Boring, Family, Memoirs, Memories, Music, Uncategorized

TV Memories

Over the years I have watched a lot of TV. Some might even say too much (okay, most people would say too much!) From my earliest memories, I can remember TV shows that I watched, that I perhaps should not have watched at such a young age. Often, it’s just the intro sequence, or even the theme music, rather than the storyline or characters.

I can remember the intro to “The Equaliser”, from when I was perhaps five years old. The intro and theme song for “Prisoner” (The Australian drama) from around the same era. And I would not be a child of the 80s without knowing the intro and song for “A Country Practice”, “Hey Hey its Saturday” or “Hey Dad”, or someone who lived through the 90s without knowing the theme song for “Acropolis Now” or “Blue Heelers”.

Sometimes, these shows bring with them fond memories of watching them each week with loved ones.

Recently, I saw an old show on Netflix that I had forgotten all about. That show was “Highway to Heaven” with Michael Landon playing a  probationary angel, doing good deeds on earth to earn his wings. It’s a rather silly show when watching it now, although it brought back so many memories. The opening titles showing Michael Landon walking down a lonely road, heading toward his next good deed. The theme song, which is a typical 1980s orchestral theme song, with a lone trumpet carrying the melody and strings to fill out the song.

Watching the first episode of the show brought memories back from the mid 1980s, of me sitting with my grandmother, watching this show every weekend. My grandmother moved the show, at the time, I tolerated it. I did not really understand it, as I was perhaps only five.

Hearing the theme song again, I felt as though my grandmother was sitting right next to me, and I was five again. We were watching the show together, except this time, I appreciated it and understood it. Even though my grandmother has passed away, a simple TV show can sometimes make me feel like she is there, right next to me, watching it with me like years gone by.

I find it strange, albeit rather comforting, that something as simple as a few bars of a TV theme song, (something that was probably written in a rush with lots of input from the TV executive etc) can invoke such vivid memories of such a specific event in a person’s life. We often don’t realise the little details that bury themselves in our minds, such as TV theme songs, that we somehow associate with a time in our own lives.

Some people believe that TV can rot a person’s brain, but I think that some TV (certainly not all of it!) can enrich one’s life. Specifically the older sitcoms, dramas and similar. They teach us of moral dilemmas, life lessons, love, loss, heartache, happiness, diversity and many other things. But often, they create a platform for people in the real world to come together, to interact or even just to sit next to each other without saying a single word.

Standard
Boring, Family, Memoirs, Memories, Uncategorized

School Days

Over the past few weeks, I have been doing some work for my old primary school. It’s a rather bizarre experience to go back to one’s primary school, walk the halls and experience those same halls as an adult. The building that once seemed so huge is now so cramped and small. The furniture that once accommodated me as a kid now makes me feel like a giant, towering over tiny chairs and tables that could not possibly serve any purpose to me anymore.

For many people, revisiting their primary school would not even register on their radar. For me, it has brought back many memories, many or even most have not been happy memories.

When I was in primary school, I didn’t have many friends, I did not play team sports, I did not socialise much outside of school, and almost never slept over at friends houses. I generally kept to myself in the school yard, or occasionally played with kids in younger classes than my own, ensuring a level of anonymity, as apart from recess and lunch, I would not see those kids in a classroom or outside school. I loathed to be called on in class, rarely answered questions unless pressured or forced to by the teacher, and did not actively engage with class activities more than the bare minimum. As a result of my distancing from the others in my class, I was rarely invited over to play or to stay the night, never attended activities outside of school such as discos, parties, movies etc. I certainly never had friends come over to our house, much less sleep over.

I even went as far as acting out in class to avoid having to participate. I couldn’t be a part of a class activity if I was sitting outside the principal’s office. It was all very logical and strategic in my mind at the time.

You see, at home, life was not so great. My father was verbally, emotionally, and on occasion, physically abusive. I feared him, and I feared his judgement of any friends I considered socialising with.

At the time, I did not realise what was happening, or even that it was not a normal environment. I was a kid, what would I know? I did know not to upset or go against him. The old saying ‘Don’t poke the sleeping bear’ definitely had relevance.

Looking back, I threw out so many warning signs, almost like a subtle call for help. Only one teacher took notice. These days there would be intervention almost immediately, but back then, not so much. The one teacher who noticed was my only male teacher in Primary School. I remember it well. I had been my usual silent and distant self in class, participating a little then retracting. He had thrown a few looks in my direction through the morning class, and when the lunch bell sounded he dismissed us, but kept me back. He asked me if I was ok. I answered yes. I lied. He pointed out that I had not been involved in the class as much as usual (which was still barely at all) and asked again if I was okay. I was silent for a few moments, trying to think of a convincing lie. I burst into tears. Uncontrollable tears. I tried telling him some pathetic story in between sobs, but I knew that he was not buying it, so I stopped talking. He said that he was always there if I needed to talk, but did not push things. This was the first adult outside of my family that had ever spoken to me as if I was more than just a kid. He was treating me as an adult, allowing me to decide when to approach him and talk. He was also the ONLY teacher throughout my early school life that had ever offered any sign of help.

Every other teacher throughout my primary education had punished me, sent me to the principal’s office, suspended me or even expelled me. None had asked me if I was ok.

Although I lied, and he didn’t push, and I never actively went to him to explain, or ask him for help, that moment was a catalyst for change. It was the moment I realised that everything was NOT okay. It was the moment I realised that life at home was not the normal home life that most or all of my classmates were experiencing.

Looking over my old school photos, I feel a level of sadness. Not that I miss those days, quite the opposite. What I do feel is regret. Regret that I missed out on so many opportunities for friendships, parties, sleep-overs and happiness. I have recently started to try to connect with some people from my school days, but many still see me as the recluse weirdo that acted out and caused trouble. I don’t blame them, I would probably be thinking the same if the tables were turned. I guess no one really knows someone’s story until it is told.

That kid that does not attend a disco or a party might not have been invited, or has poor social skills because they have never been to one before.

That kid that doesn’t play or participate in team sport might fear getting changed in the locker room and exposing bruises.

That strange kid in the playground could be lacking in social skills because they are pushing people away, avoiding confrontation and friendship to mask trouble at home.

That kid that doesn’t want to share their lunch might be struggling with an eating disorder, or has a severe allergy.

Everyone has a story, and a person is no more or no less a person for keeping it to themselves, or for sharing it in their own time.

I wish that kids at school were taught this, as it might actually help a classmate, a friend or even that ‘weird kid’ in the school yard. Kids don’t just act out for no reason. There is always an underlying reason, but sometimes it takes hard work to get to the root cause.

Other times it just takes a caring person to ask “Are you OK?”

Standard
Memories, Our World, Rant

Border Force in Melbourne

My question for Border Force is, if the press release was simply “badly worded”, why have we not been told of its ACTUAL definition and intention? We have been told it was “incorrect”, and the operation was cancelled, but what was the CORRECT definition of these “incorrect words”…??!

VicPol were apparently (off the record) talking of their disgust in these plans, having no idea of the operation, yet today, Tony DumDum has said that the whole idea was VicPol’s, and that DumDum and the office of DumDum had no knowledge of this operation taking place at all… If Border Force are acting on National Security, and are a government department, WHY does his office apparently have no notification of it?!

Either DumDum is lying to us (again/still), or Border Force are following in the footsteps of Hitler’s Nazi Party, and circumventing the acting government and becoming a power above the law of the land… This is only 6 weeks into their existence, so expect more of this behaviour in the months to come. We can only hope that the next government work to disband Border Force, and launch a Royal Commission into our current government’s abuses of human rights…

Australia is (was) better than this. I am embarrassed and ashamed to call myself Australian under this government. A country built on immigration, suddenly becoming a police-state and essentially reverting to the teachings of Nazi Germany to weed out those ‘undesirables’ amongst us… it is a deplorable and lazy way to do things…

Standard
Art, Memories, Music, Our World, Personal, Rant

I can no longer support Labor

Labor has officially lost my vote.

Let me explain this properly. As previously mentioned, I have been a Labor voter ever since I could vote. My Grandparents, and all relatives back to Federation have been Labor voters, due in part to their employment at the local Rail Yards, Dock Yards and other trade industries. My family have always been working class, hardworking union members throughout their years, finding comfort in the knowledge that the trade unions were there, fighting for their rights, conditions and safety.

In the past two years, however, Labor has seemed to have lost its way. Labor have been leaning further and further to the right, following the poll trends and the ‘easier options’, and not following their own principles. More and more often, Labor has been conceding to the Liberal view, either siding with the LNP’s decision to introduce mandatory Metadata collection and monitoring (even though the evidence shows that every country that has introduced these regulations are now either seeing their errors, or now having these regulations removed due to their inefficiency and exorbitant costs) Lowering their visionary standards (agreeing to a lower RET, meaning our Renewable Energy Target will be at an all-time, uninspiring level of around 5% by 2020 – Compared to China and America at 80% by 2050, and Denmark’s achievement of 140% a few months ago).

With all of this, I have been fooling myself, in the thoughts that “At least the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is not and “extreme” or “cruel” as the Liberal National Party (LNP) – at least I agree with many of ALP’s policies, compared to none of the LNP policies. This has now changed completely

Tonight, I have reached the decision to vote Greens for the first time at the next Federal election. I base this decision SOLELY on ALP’s decision to now adopt, or consider to adopt, the LNP policy of “Turning Back the Boats”. This decision is not a light decision, or even a decision that people may think ‘does not affect them’. This decision will affect every Australian at some point in their lives.

Allow me to clarify.

Using the field of music, I want to list some artists who were refugees. Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Gene Simmons, Angus & Malcolm Young, Bon Scott and Jimmy Barnes. Using these few names as an example, I want you to think of this.
Without Freddie Mercury, Queen may well have remained a garage band. All of the music that they created and inspired in others would be silent. Freddie’s roles as an ambassador for AIDS Awareness has potentially saved MILLIONS of lives.
Without Bob Marley, we would have missed out on the introduction to Reggae music into the mainstream. This would’ve stopped the progression to early forms of Punk & Ska. Marley also gave rise to other artists, such as Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Eric Clapton – not just covering his music, but embracing the soul of his music, and taking it to a different audience. Bob Marley also highlighted the dangers of smoking, dying of lung cancer at such a young age.
Without Gene Simmons, KISS would not have introduced us to GlamRock. A rock show would almost certainly be void of pyrotechnics and extravagant costumes.

Angus & Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, although not refugees, were migrants to Australia as part of the migrant wave of the 1950s. Jimmy Barnes was also a part of this wave. Without Australia’s acceptance of these kids, Australia would not have nurtured, and ultimately delivered these talents to the world.

I want you to imagine a world without the music of Queen, without mainstream Reggae or the larger-than-life presence of KISS. Imagine modern rock music without the influence of AC/DC. Music would be rather boring. Now think of everyone that relates to this music. The people that use a particular song to remember something good in their life. A song that perhaps has helped them get through a difficult time in their lives, marked a special occasion, a first kiss, the grieving of a loved one, or even an escape from the world and its nasty abuses. Without this music, where would these people be now?

Now I want you to think about the following names. Sigmund Freud, Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein, Ben Elton, Victor Hugo, Lord Maurice Saatchi, These names have all shaped the world for generations. Modern Psychology, Religious ideologies, Modern Theology, Quantum Physics, Atomic Energy, Relativity, Space Travel, Comedy, Musicals, TV Classics (The Young Ones, Bottom, etc) Classic Literature, and lastly on this list, Advertising.

All of these massive names were refugees.

Now, imagine what Australia is essentially turning around and punting back into the open seas. All of these modern discoveries. Talents that have essentially changed our lives in every sense, overlooked. Potentially being sent back to their deaths. This list does not include the many, many unsung heroes in our society. Surgeons, Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, Business owners / employers, Athletes, Musicians, Artists, Actors, Activists and even the guy who makes your morning coffee. Every single one of these people could essentially change your day, or your life.

Now imagine that we are now essentially telling the world that, although we are a wealthy country, and managed to avoid the GFC, putting us in a position that was envied by every other OECD country around the world, although we have more than enough room for more people to live in this vast land, we are not only not accepting them, but we are stopping their boats in international waters and turning them back to face persecution, torture, rape and murder.

These human beings do not get on a boat for fun. They do not get on a boat to ‘jump the queue’. Many of them (98% at last estimate) choose this method of entry because they are fleeing in the dark of night. They are unable to get a visa or leave their country as they are fleeing the persecution of their government. They are fleeing imminent danger at the hands of political forces, police, military. Many of these people that I have personally met have left family – wives, children, babies, parents, siblings – because they simply could not bring them, risking their lives to get here and hopefully send for them when it was safe to do so. People have left infants, only to miss out on their formative years – having no contact apart from occasional phone-calls, never holding their children in their arms. This is not a decision that any parent would choose lightly.

Make no mistake, these policies are not “Turn Back the Boats”, rather, they are “Turn back the terrified, scared, inconsolable, injured, damaged, broken, depressed and desperate human beings.” It could also be said that we are turning away unknown prosperity, knowledge, wealth, intellect, skill, artistic talent and life-changing personalities that are the very wealth that Australia was built upon. Without immigration, Australia would be a very bland place (Imagine if since 1788, Australia remained a land of Irish and English convicts. We would have no Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Jewish, Nordic, or even Russian people living here. Imagine how boring and plain our choices of restaurants would be? Without Immigration, Australia loses its very identity. Australia would cease to be the vibrant, interesting, amazing, diverse country that has made it the envy of the rest of the world. We would lose our identity as an accepting nation.

“Turning Back the Boats” will have disastrous effects for Australia, and more importantly, it will put the human beings that are on these boats into potential harm.

I will not vote for a party that supports this view, and therefore, I will no longer vote for Labor, and I am aware of several hundred people who have these same views, and will no longer be voting for Labor. I suspect that there will be many tens of thousands of voters who would share these same views, measured against only a handful that will decide to vote ALP over LNP based on this single policy. If this policy is changed to be more accepting and humane, perhaps I will reconsider, however I could not sleep soundly at night, knowing that a vote from me assisted in allowing a party into power who knowingly sends innocent men, women and children back to a country that could essentially rape, torture or murder them, simply for being who they are.

Standard
Family, Holidays, Memories, Our World, Personal, Rant

Christmas Time again…

With Christmas quickly approaching, and family gatherings only days away, I felt that I should make a post.

I didn’t want to post all about the stereotypical stuff, but instead, I wanted to remind people who not everyone in our society has the luxury of a family to be with, or even food to eat.

For many, Christmas time is not a happy time. This could be for many reasons. Perhaps it serves as a reminder to them that their own family or friends circle has disowned them, has lost contact or simply wants nothing to do with them anymore. It could be a reminder of bad life-choices they have made, perhaps with alcohol or drug abuse, causing children and family to actively disassociate themselves.
For others, it could be a reminder of a less than ideal childhood. Christmas is often a time when domestic violence, child abuse and family disagreements flare up, showing themselves in their full, ugly glory. For these families, Christmas is almost dreaded as it nears, with family members bracing themselves for the upcoming explosion of negativity in their homes.

There are people in Australia who are spending their first (or indeed their 5th or 6th) Christmas alone. They have no family here with them, perhaps living on their own with few friends around them. Some may not even be able to speak English, and are experiencing complete isolation from others in ways that many of us cannot even fathom.

Other people reflect on this time as a reminder of what the ‘average family’, or what is portrayed on television and in films should be, and how different their own family gathers are. They see the cracks in their family, the negativity and the hatred between certain members, and this can bring on sadness and even depression for many. No amount of “But it’s Christmas!” or “Fa-la-la-la-laa’ing” will change these thoughts, no matter how hard people try.

I myself have come from an abusive home growing up. This is no secret, and I have posted about this in the past on this blog. Mostly, it was verbal abuse or at least emotional abuse. There was some physical abuse as well, but it was not as bad as many others have received, and the physical was definitely a distant second to the emotional and verbal abuses. All of these things have forever tarnished my christmas experience, as my most vivid memories of christmas involve the christmas tree being thrown across the room and broken, presents beings stomped on before they could be unwrapped or on one occasion, opened before us and then destroyed. As a child, my memories of christmas should be of happy times with small gifts from loved ones, and not of these things. Now, even the sound of christmas music brings these terrible memories back into my mind.

Of course, my story is hardly the worst, and I am not trying to win any awards for this. I only mention it here to point out that people who may seem happy and strong on the outside may not always be the same on the inside. Christmas can amplify these emotions and memories for many.

The point I was hoping to make with this post is, if you see someone who is seeming down, or know of someone who may be spending christmas alone this year, perhaps offer them a seat at your table, or even a hot cup of coffee and a chat. Sometimes its the smallest of gestures that can change someone’s perspective on a situation. This is the season for giving, and respect for our fellow persons. Do not do this out of pity, but do it out of kindness and love. Everyone should be able to have at least one happy christmas memory, and it is never too late to start creating them.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Standard
Memories, Our World, Personal, Rant

Australia’s Refugees

I would like to apologies in advance. I have been reading some absolutely disgusting comments in various publications regarding the current situation in Australia regarding Refugees, Detainees and Asylum Seekers being held in Detention Centres. It is not the Australia I was born into, grew up in, and live in… What we as a country are becoming is a racist, bigoted collection of haters.
This is not The Australia I want to be associated with.

Not in my name.

Just to make sure that people understand the last few weeks in the media (as the LNP are trying to change the discussion, with talks of raising the Terror Threat Level, Gillard on trial etc)
The latest death in detention was because the man was DENIED medical treatment for a cut foot. This developed into septicaemia, causing an agonising death. To even get septicaemia, the conditions need to be rather poor (septic, like a septic tank, folks!). As a government-run facility (by third parties, employed under contract of the Department of Immigration), this is disgusting and reprehensible.

There are prisoners locked up for actual crimes (Murder, Rape, Molestation etc) who get medical treatment, university degrees (Julian Knight), Foxtel, and not to mention psychiatric assistance where required.

Some people are saying that because ‘where they came from’ was 3rd world and war-torn, that they do not deserve the bare minimum afforded to our most disgusting prisoners, found guilty of actual crimes?

I have met some of these Detainees, many/all have already received Refugee status, but because of government red-tape, they are kept in detention. Some have been detained for over 5 years, with no end in sight.
All of this, because they have sought refuge from war, torture and persecution?
So before you have the thought of “Why should they complain about the meagre offerings we are giving them?”, know this.
Australia is a signatory to the UN convention of Refugees. This COMMITS Australia to assist ANY person seeking Refuge, to process their claim in a TIMELY manner, and to not discriminate based on their mode of arrival. It could be plane (most recently there were some AIDS Convention speakers, and previously some Commonwealth Games Athletes etc) Boats (Almost everyone in detention centres) Parachute, Tunnel systems under the oceans, shot from a cannon from North Korea… We are BOUND to accepting them, processing them in a TIMELY manner, and assisting them in any way possible.
Turning boats around, transferring people to ‘rescue boats’ and towing them back, or even handing them to foreign navy vessels in INTERNATIONAL waters is no better (and no different) to Piracy.

Australia SHOULD be better than that.

Standard
Art, Family, Memories, Personal, Shenanigans

Over the past few months, I have been spending some of my free time writing my first novel.

It is based on real people, discovered within my family tree. Their story, although unknown, is being imagined using the few details I have of this family. They were the first of my family to emigrate from Ireland to Australia, settling in Williamstown before heading to the Victorian Goldfields.

The story I am telling will be a cross-generational piece, covering at least three generations, and telling their story as best as I can. It will tell of the hardships faced by their children; living in post-famine Ireland before moving to a foreign land. The story of how they fended for themselves in the surly seaside streets of Williamstown before heading to the often lawless outskirts of the Goldfields of the Victorian Gold Rush. My fascination with this part of my family first began when I discovered their family headstone in my local Cemetery. It raised more questions than it answered, uncovering previously unknown children, and revealing some interesting facts.

Image

Just a few of the characters who appear as a part of my Novel-in-Progress

I am currently nearing the 20,000 word landmark, making this officially my longest writing project ever undertaken, and I am only just getting started! Below is an excerpt from what I have so far.

“Inside however, he had never really grown out of his childhood, and whenever he could get away with it, he would let his inner child flourish. Of course, Margaret could never know of this, so it was kept a secret between himself and his Emerald Princess, Bridget. As they chatted, they both gazed at the wondrous sight before them. A thousand colours that had no names danced across the sky, stretching down from far above and disappearing beyond the hilltops in the distance.”

As things progress, I will endeavour to share more little tidbits of my writings, and perhaps if you are lucky, I might even call on some of you to proof-read a draft at some point?

My Novel

Aside