Writing On

Dwellers In Tomorrow

I walk in tomorrow’s gardens

Where dreams come true 

Or fade away into insignificance

My companions give me strength

Because our destinies are intertwined

I lead but sometimes I follow

And our journey has the magic of discovery

Which sprinkles wisdom down upon us

Like shelter in a storm

Or light in an endless tunnel of uncertainty

Things happen to daunt us

At other times to lift us

Like birds in their mastery of the air

Until we see things undreamed of

In our previous existence

I smile now and then in spite of the occasional disarray

And my silent laughter ripples through the company I keep

To brush away the occasional tear

We are not afraid for there is strength in numbers

A trouble shared is a tear repaired

A flock, a band, a troupe, a throng

What a joy it is to belong

Yes I am never alone on this voyage beyond today

For I am a teacher

____________________

The Perfect Man

Franklin Flawless is a perfect man

Unrivalled in every way

If asked for his ID any day

I’m Flawless is all he will say

Now Franklin takes pains to obey every rule

That builds his reputation

And gives him constant salutation

True virtue by imputation

He is loyal to the core to his native land

Intensely patriotic

Regarding treason as idiotic

With a passion almost psychotic

When his country goes to war

He votes wildly for conscription

Accepts the warlike prescription

Ignoring war crime description

On the matter of asylum seekers

People smugglers get his attention

And he dutifully fails to mention

The woes of indefinite detention

He’s invested with force in a company

Though its finances are unethical

He’s claimed to be antithetical

And so he appears to be ethical

Later he went into business

And learnt to cover his tracks

Despite the government’s’ constant attacks

He managed to pay little tax

Now his life flows on as the saying goes

His status is in good condition

He’s risen in the world as an apparition

To become a politician

Now he makes the law with verve what’s more

And shares with the world his anecdotes

His own perfection each day he promotes

But he’d still sell his soul for your votes

Now conclusion with reiteration

He’s unrivalled in every way

When they seek his ID each day

I’m Flawless is all he can say

____________________

Dystopia

The sun set fast

Like a dream of the past

As history became a rhyme

The shadows of deeds

Echoed false creeds

But I thought of another time

Memories came

Like points in a game

I recalled a world blessed with purity

Then came pollution

A dark revolution

That put a bruise on futurity

I wandered close by

Like a pig in its sty

Squirming in contamination

While a voice in the air 

Could be heard to declare

It’s all for the good of the nation

But the rivers went blank

And the harbour stank

While toxins haunted the air

The ocean rocked

As the plastic shocked

While the seagulls cried in despair

Then the wind came fast

With a fiery blast

And wildfire tore up the skies

Death came down

Like the weeping clown

And destruction met my eyes

When I looked at this world

My despair unfurled

At the ghastly vision forming

Then I sobbed in defeat

Amidst the heat

And the terror of global warming

So the time has come

To beat a drum

And nurture a transformed belief

That the unholy mission

Of endless competition

Is forever a doctrine of grief

___________________

ParraCAN Stall 13.4.13 Parramatta Mall
The Visitor

Thank you for the invitation

It is good to be here with you

You might wonder what I can do

With the information you give me

Well quite frankly it’s gold

Now the coal mine for instance

A good proposition

Despite the opposition from the lunatic fringe

Shares are promising

And the press are onside

With the radio jocks vociferous

They put the aye in deride

Now what about gas fracking?

I think we have growing support

Did you hear our radio man berate

The farmers who lock the gate?

Yes of course there are flaws

Underground pollution and all that stuff

The Greens are raving about

But there’s money in it

It’s wealth untold

More things in heaven and earth Horatio

But our philosophy is linked to the market

That means no limits

A mission statement bound for fruition

Along the Glory Road

And speaking of roads

What’s happening with highway repairs?

Is the funding going 

To the right places?

We need to watch this

Where there’s pork there’s a barrel

So we’re wearing handout apparel

Finally my friend, what about Jones?

Is he still working for a spill?

Ah! That’s good

I was hoping that’s what you would say

So we can go ahead with our plans

Bravo! And away we go

Well that’s about it for the present

Thank you for having me here

Together we’ve surged past first base

Everything is falling into place 

____________________

Social Distancing

The most terrifying words in the English language are I’m from the government and I’m here to help. 

Ronald Reagan

I wandered lonely as a crowd

In the land of Devil-May-Care

Where I found walking in the streets

All the dreams of yesterday

Every vision had a human face

With troubled eyes looking everywhere

The COVID fear was in the air

Like a mischievous fog

Settling here swirling there

Touching haunted figures

On stooped shoulders and on hair

Making them hurry away from each other

Like lambs from the butchery

As the big clock struck high noon

Not thirteen as it did in another place

But twelve relentlessly

One toll replacing another eleven times

Sonorous, deep

Like thunderclaps asleep

Until the counting ceased into silence

That settled on everything everywhere…

It was a hushed foretelling

Something else was about to happen

And then it came, to the sound

Of a drumbeat of hearts

Relentlessly rising in volume

Louder, louder, louder

As if predicting a guillotine was about to fall

But the fall did not come

Instead came a voice Prime Minister

It said we are all united 

In the face of a common danger

And the government’s task

Is to save each soul

However poor or sick or frail, 

Young or old you may be

Those words soothed through troubled space

For me a final act of grace

It was then that I knew

That the government was doing its work

The revolution had come

____________________

More Thoughts On Things

Image Attribution: Creative Commons TRT World

Argumentum ad Hominem

Come right in despite your sin

I am organised to receive you

But your problem is you may not win

As it’s very hard to believe you

I note you treat as a vast abyss 

International law

Is there a reason I can’t dismiss

For your very dark closed door?

Now that you’re here, there is one other thing

My conscience tells me to mention

I hear a song no angels sing

Concerning indefinite detention

Have you not heard the children crying

Those innocent voices that tell no lies

Describing a fate far worse than dying

That the devil in you denies?

What is your reason for this evil scheme

Are you seeking the votes of racists?

When close to you I suppress a scream

This of all your misdeeds is basest

So end your monstrous plan

Speak on cunning one, seek your sway

Put your case to me man to man

And I will refute whatever you say

Justice does win in the end my friend

Truth will mangle your silence

It is a straight line you cannot bend

An exposé forever of violence

I’ve heard you now and your case is weak

Your words are but sounding brass

Go now and erase your sinister clique

Let judgement come to pass

………………

O Hosanna!

I had a thought the other day

When everything was quiet

I thought I saw the President

A-quelling a people’s riot

A fountain pen was in his hand

And fear was in his eye

Says I don’t you call in the troops

Or innocents will die

O Hosanna let’s keep the fools at bay

There is no place for idiots here

Let’s drive them all away

Next I saw a neocon

Cutting down lots of trees

A fatal axe was in his hand

Wood chips were in the breeze

The forest had a hole in it

Bigger than a football field

Says I when you wield that deadly thing

The bush will never be healed

O Hosanna let’s keep the fools at bay

There is no place for idiots here

Let’s drive them all away

Along then came a city planner

Destroying history

Knocking down all beautiful sights

So the past’s a mystery

The developer came with lots of cash

As the planner named his price

Says I you have no integrity

And your buildings are not nice

O Hosanna let’s keep the fools at bay

There is no place for idiots here

Let’s drive them all away

Along then came a slick adman

Wanting to sell his stuff

Breaking up my TV films

Until I’d had enough

He spoilt my fun with all his ads

Like a beastly naughty child

Says I go away you ugly beast

You are a soul reviled

O Hosanna let’s keep the fools at bay

There is no place for idiots here

Let’s drive them all away

In the end I found some golden peace

Turning another way

Went for a walk out in the world

It was a lovely day

I looked at the birds and the flowers and the bees

This gently eased my mind

Says I what a beautiful world it is 

When you leave bad folk behind

O Hosanna let’s keep the fools at bay

There is no place for idiots here

Let’s drive them all away (2)

………………

Eric The Read

It’s fiction we declare it; but if it fits you, wear it.

Eric The Read is an artisan 

Who holds a position of trust

He is in fact a charlatan

Who’s skilfully learnt to adjust

He gets his wishes you might say

With cunning schemes forsooth 

Persuading in his deceptive way

And rarely telling the truth

He smiles a lot to further his plot

At every public meeting

In debates he talks more than a lot

Has success that is based on cheating

For several years he’s hoodwinked well

To rise in a steady climb

So trendy it seems he’s cast a spell

From ridiculous to the sublime

So the votes come fast to put him in

A thriving political roster

He rose in the ranks in the end to win

Even though he is an imposter

Up the ladder he’s climbed full tilt

With success that is almost sinister

With an expert’s skill he hides his guilt

To rise to the rank of minister

Today he stands on high

With innocent people in pain

The success of Eric makes them cry

And tragic echoes remain

………………..

A Hell Of A Dream

Heaven for the weather. Hell for the company. Mark Twain

I had a dream the other night

When every thing was still

I thought I saw the President

A-coming down the hill

A big black mask was on his face

A glint was in his eye

Says he I’ll make the human race

Great though many yes many will die

So I said to him hey sir I fear

You are too fiercely tribal

So he went to a church that was quite near

And swore an oath on the bible

O then I saw a neocon

In a deal with a money bender

He was getting ready to move on

But he had a fake agenda

He promised the world joys unfurled

But he showed fallacious airs

So I took him by the ear with a loud come here

And threw him down the stairs

When he hit the bottom I gave a cheer

Then I sent him off for repairs

In another part of my dream last night

I confronted a politician

Who gave to me a hell of a fright

As his image was in ghastly condition

When he voiced his nonsense sans respite

He was totally without erudition

A man on the nose so the saying goes

And he talked at a furious pace

So I turned away from his tale of woes

And slammed a door in his face

When I awoke I saw the joke

I can change the world in my sleep

Though when I’m awake I’m a pig in a poke

With verse I can make fools weep

……………….

A Quiet Time

In the quiet of the evening

I sometimes retrace my steps

To wander through memories

Back into my childhood

Do you know what I mean?

There is something about the springtime of life

That somehow transcends the battleground

Of adult existence

It is a place to escape to

There is no career duty to complete there

No business acumen to sharpen

No ironic comments from workplace rivals

No threat of retrenchment when the enterprise fails

No political doctrine to discuss

No mortgage to pay off

Instead there are cowboys and Indians

The tooth fairy with sixpence for your pulled first incisor 

The kite that dad made that flew ever so high

Cricket with a bright new bat and ball

Pandy your dog who fetched sticks for you

Macavity your Mystery Cat who loved to purr

Roy Rogers films at the Saturday matinee

And threepences in the Christmas pudding

Such a different place that one

An unfolding world of magic gems of delight

A location where things are not grim

And before you grow up you learn to swim

So a word to my adult friends

Excuse me, the pace of life has caught up with me

I’ll be away for a while

If you really need me

I’l be with my new train that Santa has just brought me

……………….

Categories

Here I am,

Limping through what was once tomorrow,

Struggling, sighing, crying, prying,

Lying in the clutches of the quicksand known as status. 

Why is this so?  If you should wish to know

The reason for my life’s hiatus,

Visit my classroom of a dozen years ago,

The bleak place where I shall forever be

Confined, entwined, maligned, defined as E

For all the world to see.

Not people in that place

But ordered lists of merit and disgrace,

Probing and molesting by tests ad infinitum,

Whose validity moves only fools to cite ’em.

So from that space in my stark inferiority,

Degraded by implied superiority,

I’ve wandered aimlessly beyond my sanity,

Longing to meet unclassified humanity.

O why am I cursed, reviled and frowned upon

Because I am not an alpha but an epsilon?

royciebaby

Overheard Voices

Image Attribution: Public Domain: The Music Network

War Cuisine

Have you noticed 

How some leaders cook 

With a recipe of hostility? 

They take a concoction of enemies 

Add a portion of land and earthly possessions, 

A generous quantity of patriotism 

Assiduously mixed with racism and false rumour 

Blended in a sauce of greed with a pinch of fear 

And bring this to the boil 

Stirring constantly,

Then garnish it with hatred and serve it 

In man-size portions on lavish platters 

Upon a snow-white cloth adorned 

With glasses of gloom-altering wine 

To incited warriors in warlike clothing, 

Give a speech with a benevolent smile 

And then in a final act of elation, 

Say,”Your death would be a service to our nation.”

………………..

The Wizard Of Aussie

Any links to real people are purely coincidental.

Greetings to you and it’s how do you do

I am the Wizard Of Aussie

I live in the past hating the new

As a leader though, I am quite bossy

Twenty years ago you need to know

I went on a taxing spree

In spite of a vow, hurt the needy and how

And brought in the GST

The result of this was a loss of bliss

Many declared it unfunny

It made the poor because of this

Pay the government so much money

As time went on I decided anon

To sell off the family jewels

Just another trick I hit upon

So the balanced budget rules

Now a wizard like me can never see

Much point in innovation

An easier path that brings the rich glee

Is unfettered privatisation

So I sold off the banks and the planes and the trains

And countless other earners

Till my land was hocked and the stock exchange rocked

I was just too smart for learners

Now in foreign affairs I was brilliant too

And shon my light in the dark

I gave my blessing as one of a few

To the massacre in Iraq

Now time has passed until at last

There is one more thing worth a mention

I don’t have to foot any bills from my past

On the Wizard Of Aussie’s pension

So there’s no dispute of my ill repute

With the virtuous I am contrasted

I am seen by all as no Canute

Here I’ve censored the last word to “mastered”

……………….

In A Pig’s Eye

The Honourable Percival Strum

Was feeling extremely glum

He was sadly overcome because

Of a constant lack of applause

He would make a speech beyond his reach

And strive to please the nation

He was very careful not to preach

But never drew an ovation

Now this was a serious matter

In his political lurk

If you can’t do better than idle chatter

You will soon be out of work

So Percy in his quest for mercy

Walked through one last door

He did a deal with the sorceress Circe*

In an effort to get an encore

Now the problem was the enchantress 

Wasn’t exactly divine

She took that man and his allies galore

And turned them all into swine

Now a funny thing followed this action

It brought that team success

And it gave our man and his right faction

Total lack of duress

The votes came in with a hell of a din

And the party men danced a jig

It’s amazing what debates you can win

With the public face of a pig

At question time they were bits of slime

And up to unusual tricks

Their pig-sty words were close to a crime

They offended Dorothy Dix

When Strum was called by his furious foes

An unbelievable rotter

The dauntless chap gave those foes woes

By simply raising a trotter

There are other things on which I must speak

For the word soon got around

That Strum and his clique were all unique

And they gained considerable ground

They won a case with the House divided

After Strum had donned a wig

Conformity was what that vote provided

As the case was put by a pig

In one more debate that went quite late

The Speaker locked the doors

Strum’s rivals met an embarrassing fate

As they couldn’t compete with the boars

Time passed by as it constantly does

Soon the spell began to wear off

In no time at all the House was abuzz

And some members started to scoff

Now Strum, the new man, was not deterred

He vocalised no offence taken

At last came a speech that was less absurd

When he said he would bring home the bacon

So that is the end of this tale

It’s a lesson that many should try

When political acts seem likely to fail

You should simply cry: In a pig’s eye

*On Circe: The Greek hero Odysseus visited her island, Aeaea, with his companions, whom she changed into swine. Source: Britannica

……………….

Mortimer Max

A work of fiction. If this resembles any real person, it serves that person right.

Mortimer Max was very lax

Believe me there is a good reason

His way of life was close to treason

As he didn’t pay any tax

His business was a flourishing one

Digging was his role

He paid his crew little, restricted their fun

But it kept them away from the dole

Now this cunning man lived with élan

Even though he was often unshaven

His empire spread as far as Japan

While Panama was his tax haven

His standing in the world just grew and grew

Into billions as a bestseller

Respected he was and important too

A political fortune teller

His favourite hobby was to lobby

And make the members dishonest

It worked so well he turned quite snobby

As the weight of his guile fell upon us

They bent the law to meet his wishes

And this cheating was habit forming

He went ahead with work on his fissures

In spite of the global warming

Now Mortimer Max could never relax

He was always on the go

The speeches he made often lacked syntax

And added to our poor world’s woe

Yes it was a mess without redress

As the temperature kept on rising

He had his way with much success

And was constantly eulogising

But things got so hot that we all complained

He was no longer in vogue

When none couldn remember when last it rained

That man was seen as a rogue

But villains like him don’t ever feel guilt

And he countered the shame with hilarity

Then even before any more blood was spilt

He gave a vast hand out to charity

The money mattered to lives he had shattered

Revealing a false imputation

As all for him that actually mattered

Was the price of his reputation

The gift did the trick, it was very slick

His prestige quickly returned

His rise in the eyes of the masses was quick

He was no longer spurned

But the trouble with this was more things went amiss

In our planet disaster unfurled

He stood on the edge of a frightful abyss

And looked at the end of the world

This made him see sense and give recompense

By immediately stopping his digging

Then as a bit of uncommon good sense

He even tore down all his rigging

Now the bizarre star has long passed away

But a statue his good name maintains

His only fans now are a large flock of birds

Which fondly deposit their remains

……………….

The Honourable Decimus Fudge

A work of fiction. Similarities to real persons are purely coincidental. QED

The Honourable Decimus Fudge

Claimed never to hold a grudge

And that is not surprising

Since he first made his crust

From a myth of trust

In the world of advertising

As time went by, his deception

Had a greater and greater reception

Until nothing would sell

This side of Hell

Without his interception

And so life changed

It was rearranged

As he organised the removal

Of all things fine

That were yours or mine

If they didn’t meet his approval

Then he shaped the world

With a flag unfurled

As he opened one more door

In his zest for power

From a conning tower

He predicted another war

Then the ads came fast

With the world aghast

Re the weapons we should buy

While the sick and the needy

Were discarded fast

And then allowed to die

Mind you, wars sell well

And ring a bell

With their fiery panorama

But the death of many

Is a spinning jenny

That weaves a hidden drama

Now the Honourable Decimus Fudge

Appeared to be quite a hero

Ranking let’s say with a gentle nudge

Up with the likes of Nero

But there’s no true peace

Though hostilities cease

When you keep on building your armoury

For every weapon is a trepan*

That reeks of war

And hate what’s more

Till your world’s but a hawkish gendarmerie

To conclude this piece

Here’s a bit of grease

To help you move still faster

As this adman now has turned very sour

Let us end his power

And get rid of this deadly disaster

Ah men!

*trepan: a surgeon’s instrument

……………….

Sixty-five Roses 

For The Children With Cystic Fibrosis 

Intangible things morphemes 

Like imprudent dreams 

Or furtive fears 

Or flimsy formulae of faith in uncertain ideas. 

When you are a child 

Looking up 

At the towering mountains of experience 

You try to find a pathway to understanding 

By whatever means you can. 

You reach out for things to say, 

And even though your words are but feathers 

Floating in the wind, 

You hope that they will help you fly 

Beyond where words are not secret codes 

But holy things . . . 

Not the faltering, temporary diagnoses 

Of what seems to be, 

Not clumsy tools which fall and hurt your toes, 

But noble panaceas . . . 

Medicament for every pain there is 

The earth, the fire, the air and water of life itself. 

Once in a whimsy 

A child of Fate’s morning, 

Mourning, 

Sought to say what he did not understand. 

The eyes of his soul 

Saw the beauty of flowers in a garden of despair . . . 

Instead of cystic fibrosis . . . he said, ‘Sixty-five roses.’ 

Then, the smiling wind 

As it has been known to do in the past, 

Caught up his idea, 

Swirled it around with heavenly pity 

And charged it with such power

That it put a girdle round the earth in milliseconds. 

It was amazing to observe 

That wind of that new morning, 

Dawning, 

Whisk the words here, there and anywhere 

Until by chance, 

What was blowing in the wind 

Fell  upon the ears of one or two surprised 

But accomplished ad-folk spinners of speech.

Suddenly the light of understanding 

Led these men and women of the world 

Laughingly beyond the place 

Where half truths and controlled innuendoes live, 

To where days are pre-occupied with understanding. 

There . . . as a gift transcending even love, 

Devised as it was in a place somewhere above mundanity, 

These skilful contemporary bards 

Turned the thoughts of roses into charity cards 

And, with the words of a fragile child, 

Set to the enchanted music of innocence

Suddenly converted you and me 

Into a chorus line of the caring, high footing it and dancing 

To the pure and eerie harmonies of compassion 

And the twinkling percussion of cash registers opening and closing. 

……………….

The Gingerbread Man

All the seats are taken in the house that makes the rules 

All the seats are taken in ‘the parliament of fools’  Source: Skyclad

Mister Speaker

I now move the motion

All those in favour say aye

Those against say nay

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire

Order! Order!

Such words! Standing orders

Crossing borders, unparliamentary 

Elementary, my dear Watson

Order! Order!

Such repartee is against the rules

It’s the kind of behaviour you’d find in schools

You leave me no choice I’m forced to say

You will leave the House under 94A 

Bah! Bah! Black sheep have you any drool?

No Sir, No Sir I think you are a fool, fool

Order! Order!

The honourable member forces me

To tell him to leave under 94B

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

You won’t get me to wander yonder

Order! Order!

The honourable member is beyond the pale

If this keeps up he will end in gaol

Mister Speaker I hear not my death knell ring

Among the blind, the one-eyed man is king

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

The end justifies the means

Strike while the iron is hot

Order! Order!

We must stop this rot

This is the last straw

Take him way and lock the door

Mister Speaker

I’m so full of sagacity it’s beyond your capacity

To put me away

What a pity conformity is your plan!

You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man

……………….

Rejoicing In Iniquity

Don’t buy the daily papers any more, woman

Read all about what’s going on in hell

John Williamson Cootamundra Wattle

Good evening

Here is the news

I’m Erin Everyman

Now here’s a fright to whet your appetite

A man was shot dead today in the West

Police were called to the scene

It was sealed off simply as police routine

The victim’s fate was extremely grim

The suspect was clearly known to him

And with bloodied shirt he left the place

To be captured after a very long chase

Now here’s a ditty to attract your pity

Tragedy struck on a highway today

Four teenagers deceased

The driver was a minor so police say

The names have not been released

Now what about this? Evil bliss

Breaking news concerning a rape

Of a girl in an empty park

She appears to have struggled and tried to escape

With no one to help in the dark

Now here’s a sensation to denote damnation

A pedophile went to gaol today

Convicted of crimes in the past

The victims were boys, no names on display

And the sentencing judge was aghast

Now we must travel to unravel a juicy tale

Mexico is the next port of call

Concerning a case of polygamy

Seven wives, one man wed them all

A far greater crime than bigamy 

Now disaster gets interest faster

There’s a major flood in Laos 

With heavy loss of life

A thousand died in the chaos

While vast destruction was rife

No more imposing; now we are closing

Here’s a message for your nation

Today we have sought to help you find

An end to your frustration

Plus appropriate peace of mind…

That’s all for now, good night

………………..

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,

Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;

He put her in a pumpkin shell

And there he kept her well. 

Roud Folk Song Index Number 13497

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater refused to wear a mask

Though with the virus everyone knew

It was an essential task

Now Peter unmasked was clearly a fool

Spurning the doctors

By breaking this rule

He wandered mask-free in public view

In no way heeding the danger

Giving rise no surprise to a general hullabaloo 

Now the illness spread with many dead

That led to his wife’s rebuke

She declared him not right in the head

But alas our Peter ignored all advice

Stuck fast in his stupid way

I can say, if I am to be precise

Now he as a boss was a definite loss

Setting a bad example

That made all his acolytes cross

So many days passed with this foolish behaviour

That let his followers down because

They regarded him as their saviour

In a typical way for such a clod

He answered valid censure

With not even the hint of a nod

Then he wandered the earth without any mirth

Unmasking lies

To diminish then finish his worth 

Soon he scorned his critics as weasels

Boasting he caught no virus

But O my and wow I tell you now, he finally got the measles!

Now Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater goes a different way

At last we can note a change

Now that fool wears a mask each day; what more can I say?

……………….

Going Going Gone

House For Sale…

Pardon the jargon

This one’s a bargain

So handy to all amenities

It will massage your identities

Buy it now

If your funds allow

It’s clearly not for nonentities

Afraid of the market’s obscenities

So don’t just sigh

And let the chance go by

Or you’ll lose your place in the world

The price will soon go up like a flag unfurled

Chances missed

Are undoubtedly grist

For the mill of the marketplace

Where options lost are a sheer disgrace

So get a loan

Don’t be a drone

Tie up the rest of your life

If instalments fall short, you can work your wife

So now bid

To be finally rid

Of the slur you incur

With no home to confer

On your kids

I’m ready for bids

Reserve price

On my best advice

Is where the bidding will begin

So it’s a million; are you in?

………………..

What’s In A Name?

Pimpernel Prawn was quite forlorn

He was troubled by his name

He resolved the label he had worn

Would eventually bring him shame

Shortening the first name made him a pimp

While his last name was so biological

That nomenclature walked with a limp

It was almost tautological

So quickly he sprang into action one day

Searching for good name examples

But the trouble was what came into play

Were unsatisfactory samples

He found Willie Robb and Ima Loser

Aimee Normous, Peter Out and Ben Dover

Ivan Urge, Yuri Vul, Tim Burr and Abe Boozer

Carmen Quiet, Hugh Wood and Greta Rover

So his mind at the Registry was confused

As he sought to change his title

But the staff at that place politely enthused

And results were beyond question, vital

They led him to a place remote from the mob

An astute distinctive address

They told him his name should be linked to his job

To make sure of future success

So at last the lad after time as a muggle

Finally got his wish

And managed at last to end the struggle

With the new name of Barbecue Fish

……………..

royciebaby

Yet More University Adventures

The Phoenix People performing in a TIE play: Imagination Can Set You Free: Nepean CAE in the 1970s

Maybe you have seen my descriptions of earlier journeys into academia. This is an account of my studies for a third degree. Special memories.

What a powerful influence on our lives the theatre has been. It is so involved with our language. We have a theatre of war and our lives are saved in an operating theatre. When young people die in a road accident, it is a tragedy. Our rivals will constantly steal the limelight and try to upstage us. The policy of our political opponents is either a farce or a comedy of errors. That frivolous lady friend will always be making a scene and in spite of her, all the world’s still a stage. A policeman might unmask a criminal and make a dramatic arrest. A car model might make a world debut and a debutant might play a leading role with an orchestra. Politicians might get a chorus of approval. It is such fun to study the theatre because it is so relevant to our lives.

I began my next degree course, an MA in English Literature, at the University of Sydney. The main focus was on theatre although there was some consideration of other literary forms.

I enjoyed for example, discovering the haruspication –  in ancient Rome the interpretation of omens by inspecting the entrails of sacrificial animals – in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. In this case the sacrificial animal was a wounded airman observed by the central character Yossarian.

The divination theme was a powerful literary trick that swept me away because it was so powerful when you discovered it. I enjoyed the satire too.

Then there was Jane Austen, with her small piece of ivory two inches wide on which she “worked with so fine a brush” (her own words). There she was, writing at a time of great upheaval yet she was content with a study of manners. 

Just fancy: here was a great woman author unable to publish using her own name. I have long enjoyed the ironic realism of her work and have taught HSC classes about Emma. When you teach, there is no doubt you learn something twice.

That’s all I have room for regarding other literary content. We studied lots more.  But now for the theatre.

It is such a vast subject too. I want to share more detail of that study of mine so I’ll focus the rest of this post mostly on my condensed version of its story as I learned it all those years ago (in the 70s).

A History of Western Theatre

You can’t escape the influence of the ancient Greeks when you trace the story of our theatre. The theatron was their “seeing place,” originally for viewing ceremonies dedicated to the gods. The orkhestra was the dancing and singing place; quite different from today’s symphony connotation. It was simply a flat area where the chorus danced, presumably often to music although none of that remains.The skene was the changing tent or the place where the fatal action occurred. The Greeks never killed in public view. It was always done “offstage” in the skene.

A catastrophe was originally a turning point for the ancient chorus dancers. It meant a “turning down.” Antistrophe was another turning point this time meaning “turning against.” The chorus had traditional movements. I find the ancient word for an actor most interesting. Guess what it was: hupokrites. So the original actors were hypocrites. What a surprising and wonderful thing language is.

We have only a small percentage of ancient Greek drama available to us. The comic and tragic masks are well known though.

Masks. Attribution: Creative Commons

Masks were a definite way of portraying character. Actors would step offstage, change masks and become a different character. Sophocles apparently was an actor at first but lacked the required strong voice so turned to writing.

I believe the acoustics in the plays’ amphitheatres were very good. One of my friends who visited Greece told me so.

The word “drama”by the way comes from the Greek drao “I do.” Reminds me of a saying I have used on and off during my teaching: “I hear what you say but I see what you do.” Drama in all its forms in the classroom remains a passion with me. Actions speak louder than words is the old cliché that still seems relevant here.

As part of our studies at Sydney, we were required to read extensively from the few remaining plays of the ancient Greek period. I remember quite well the Oresteia of Aeschylus and Aristophanes’ great comedies Lysistrata and Frogs, as well as Medea by Euripides and Sophocles’ play Antigone. I won’t discuss them or any others here as I want to talk more about the theatre itself.

Now the chorus was a vital part of the Greek theatre. It had a leader. Thespis of Icaria (c. 6th century BC) is believed to be the first chorus leader with lines distinct from the rest of the chorus; that is he was the first actor (?). He apparently wrote plays with one actor. Aeschylus is thought to have pioneered more than one speaking part. Some writers say Sophocles gave us three actors although others think Aeschylus gave us all three.

At this time I came across Aristotle’s term catharsis. To him tragedy had a cleansing effect, causing the audience to suffer with the characters and then end up somehow cleansed with a better awareness. 

I later learnt of Bert Brecht’s alienation effect (Verfremdungseffekt) that took a different point of view. He seems to have sought to limit the audience’s emotional involvement and protect them from the brain washing that he alleged characterised traditional Western theatre. Brecht stressed that conscious awareness of ideas was essential for true understanding of theatre. For this effect he would from time to time write something outside the written narrative to remind the audience that it was theatre and not the real world, to break the spell you might say, perhaps to check up on whether that audience was paying attention.

This site is worth a read for Brecht.

So there we have two philosophical positions: catharsis versus alienation. Theory and practice are not necessarily the same in our contemporary productions. I have come to think that the dramatist’s instructions are what truly matter, and I am not very fond of “director’s theatre” where original ideas are often cast aside.

One of the problems I have with this post is the vastness of the subject matter. How can you deal with two and a half thousand years in a single post? I’ve decided simply to rely on pleasant memories as they come to mind. So it will not necessarily result in orderly chronology.

The Golden Age

What an incredibly fruitful era for theatre began during the reign of Elizabeth I! The period from 1580 to 1630 must be considered a golden age for dramatists. Before that time the status of actors and theatre in society was very low indeed.

The 1572 Vagabonds Act said that…all common players and minstrels not belonging to a Baron of the Realm or a person of higher status, and without a licence from at least two justices of the peace, “shall be taken and adjudged to be deemed Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars.” 

Actors were linked with pedlars, tinkers, jugglers and “petty chapmen” as undesirables and ready to be punished at law.

What a change came over theatre life during the period in question! Distinguished people including the royal Elizabeth and James came forward as sponsors of theatre companies. Actors had theatres for performance instead of inns or rooms in rich people’s houses. Theatre companies flourished. Audiences grew to fantastic heights.

Actors were suddenly significant and reputable. Some became the equivalent of our movie stars. Edward Alleyn, for example, was very rich. So rich that he founded a College – Dulwich – that still exists.

One of his claims to fame was his marriage to entrepreneur Philip Henslowe’s stepdaughter Joan. Henslowe was a very influential figure, an impressario, frequently paying advances to dramatists and thus promoting a spectacular array of plays for performance.

Alleyn was famous for his roles with three of Marlowe’s characters: Tamburlaine, Barrabas (the Jew of Malta) and Faustus. Richard Burbage, son of theatre builder James Burbage, was another distinguished actor. Shakespeare often wrote with these actors in mind when he created characters.

When his first wife Joan died, Alleyn married Constance, the very young daughter of John Donne, poet and Dean of St Paul’s – much  to the anger of Donne and his wife. When he died, Alleyn was worth six times as much as Shakespeare. No mean effort.

Burbage was very successful too, although not as rich as Alleyn. He was a boy actor with great success in women’s roles and worked his way into prominence as an adult. Shakespeare wrote these roles especially for Burbage: all the kings, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and King Lear.

Alleyn and Burbage were the leading actors of the time, very popular. But there were many others, including Nathan Field and Gabriel Spencer who enjoyed considerable success.

Spencer had a tragic life. He was an argumentative type and killed a man in a fight. He in turn was killed by Ben Johnson. To avoid execution, Johnson took the Church. That is he recited a required biblical text, the first verse of Psalm 51 known as the ‘neck verse,’ and became overtly religious, thus avoiding the hangman. He kept up this holy persona for twelve years.

While on the subject of Johnson (a close friend of Shakespeare), I found his partnership with Inigo Jones in the creation of court masques fascinating. If you get the chance to see the wonderful stage settings of Inigo Jones in colour, I recommend you see them. This site shares a little of that background.

Dramatists other than Shakespeare in the golden age mentioned above are also a captivating group. One who interested me greatly was Kit Marlowe.

Marlowe was a brilliant innovator as well as a spy for the Queen and died young in a tavern (aged 29), murdered (I believe) by another spy. During his studies for his MA at Cambridge he was frequently absent. When there was some doubt about him graduating because of his long absence, a message from the Queen via the Privy Council, insisted he be granted graduation as he had been absent from studies on important royal business. 

This business was looking for Catholic conspirators overseas. Despite the many other possible reasons now given for his death, I think he was executed because he had become an embarrassment to Sir Francis Walsingham, head of Elizabeth’s spy network. His plays, especially Tamburlaine, The Jew Of Malta  and Doctor Faustus were great successes.

Despite the triumph of the theatre in the age I mention, life was hard and many of Shakespeare’s contemporary dramatists had tragic lives. Take Thomas Kyd for instance, the author of a groundbreaking and highly successful play: The Spanish Tragedy.

Unexpectedly Kyd was arrested and tortured by government authorities in a quest for evidence against Christopher Marlowe. Had Marlowe lived in our age he would have been studied by MI-5.

One of the interesting features of the time was that many dramatists worked together to construct their plays. This was the case with Kyd and Marlowe. As Marlowe had fallen out of favour, authorities were using Kyd to get evidence on him. Hence the torture.

Soon after this arrest Kyd died at the tender age of 35. The torture produced little for the government but left Kyd very ill.

One of the interesting features for me of Kyd’s life was his attendance at the Old Merchant Taylor’s School. In 1989 I played cricket on their lovely ground during a tour of England with the Australian Old Collegians. Edmund Spenser, who later wrote The Faerie Queene, also attended that school. 

Robert Greene was another tragic figure. He was born c.1560. He had a BA from Cambridge and an MA from Oxford, a rare feat in any age. He wrote a number of plays, that were very popular. One of these, Orlando Furioso, he sold to a theatre company and then, while the company were touring, he sold it again – this time to Philip Henslowe the main entrepreneur of the time. Greene had become desperate for money.

One of his plays, Ponderoso, influenced Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Greene was a very bitter critic of Shakespeare, calling him “an upstart crow.” Greene died in poverty at the age of 32 in 1592.

George Peele was another dramatist who met a sorry end, also dying in poverty. He was a brilliant scholar, with a BA and MA from Oxford. His plays included the Old Wives’ Tale a comedy,The Battle of Alcazar, a patriotic play, and a biblical play: The Love of King David and Bethsabe. His death was a sordid affair.

So life was tough in these times when you fell out of the company of the powers that be. Shakespeare we all know was the brilliant success with no worries concerning money.

There were so many other dramatists in this golden age. They included George Chapman, Thomas Dekker, John Marston, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, John Webster, John Ford and Philip Massinger.

I’ve got space to talk about George Chapman here. He spent a bit of time with Ben Johnson in gaol for writing a smash hit play,  Eastward Ho, that offended King James. He was perhaps more famous as a brilliant translator of the classics. I remember in another place studying John Keats’ lovely sonnet: “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold, 

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; 

Round many western islands have I been 

Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. 

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 

That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne; 

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene 

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: 

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 

When a new planet swims into his ken; 

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes 

He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men 

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise— 

Silent, upon a peak in Darien. 

Chapman seems to have led a more peaceful life, having given up writing plays to concentrate on translating the great works of his past.

Long before Shakespeare’s age there was another event from my study of the history of theatre that stays in my memory. It was perpetrated by Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester from 963 to 984. After the fall of Rome with the onset of the so-called Dark Ages, events to be described as theatrical were limited indeed.

Ethelwold did something that contributed to a change of this. Looking at his church service one day he was suddenly inspired to enliven the service by adding a little drama. He devised what is now known as the Quem quiritis trope (“Whom do you seek?”). You can read about it here.

A trope is a phrase or verse added as an embellishment or interpolation to the sung parts of the Mass in the Middle Ages, according to Merriam-Webster. So that was what Ethelwold did. He jazzed up the service to add force to the story.

I believe this was the first step in the rise of Church drama in the Middle Ages, the remarkable miracle, mystery and morality plays. We spent a lot of time reading these during that course. I remember The Second Shepherd’s Play and Noah’s Flood quite fondly. The morality play Everyman seems to me to have a timeless relevance.

As the director of tertiary student plays at one stage of my teaching, I became very interested in stagecraft, especially lighting and set design. This has a fascinating history from the deus ex machine of the Greeks, Hell mouth of the Middle Ages, Renaissance sets, elaborate melodrama stages of the Victorian era and lighting from limelight to Fresnels.  

When I go to the theatre, before the play begins I find myself caught up by the magic of that environment. I look at the lighting equipment when it’s visible. I think about the staging – whether it’s end staging or arena. I think of Wagner’s idea about gesamptkunstwerk, or “universal art work,” how the theatre becomes a remarkable combination of so many art forms including music – visual effects are so magical in the modern theatre; sound is important too. I always tried to include music when I was directing.

Another aspect of theatre coming to mind now from my studies is Expressionist drama. It involved a focus on the inner workings of the human mind. I recommend a visit to this site to experience the troubled Swedish life of August Strindberg, a major figure in this type of drama.

My interest here in Expressionism was especially focused on Eugene O’Neill, the American dramatist and Nobel Laureate.

Part of my reason is that I directed one of his plays during my time as a Sydney teacher. That play was The Emperor Jones. It’s a very good example of Expressionism. In the plot, Jones is a leader of natives on an island. He is a former murderer who has fled the United States. 

He is worshipped on the island as an “emperor” but suddenly loses face and has to flee. For the rest of the play a drum beat sounds to match the rhythm of his heart. That heart beats faster as the action moves towards a violent climax. Among the characters in the play are Formless Fears who writhe across the stage on one occasion. It’s very much an illustration of the inner mind.

One other joy I had with this course was the Commedia dell’arte (Comedy of the profession). The Commedia flourished in Italy and elsewhere from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. They were travelling players who wore character masks, improvised heavily and devised dramas appropriate to the place where they were performing.

The Commedia influence spread from Italy to England via Shakespeare and France notably via Molière. The influence can be seen in The Tempest, Love’s Labour Lost and The Taming Of The Shrew and Tartuffe for example, by Molière.

Here is a good list of  Commedia characters.

Other characters began as stock masks and developed into well-known characters in the hands of the most talented players. The Capitano developed as a caricature of the Spanish braggart soldier, boasting of exploits abroad, running away from danger at home. He was turned into Scaramuccia by Tiberio Fiorillo, who, in Paris with his own troupe (1645–47), altered the captain’s character to suit French taste. As Scaramouche, Fiorillo was notable for the subtlety and finess of his miming. The zanni, who were often acrobats, or “tumblers,” had various names such as Panzanino, Buratino, Pedrolino(or Pierrot), Scapino Fritellino, Trappolino, Brighella, and most notably, Arlecchino and Pulcinella (related to the English Punchinello, or Punch). Pulcinella, like Capitano,“outgrew” his mask and became a character in his own right, probably created by Silvio Fiorillo (died c. 1632), who had earlier created a famous Capitano, Mattamoros. Columbina, a maidservant, was often paired in love matches with Arlecchino, Pedrolino, or the Capitano. With Harlequin she became a primary character in the English pantomime’s harlequinade. The zanni had already been differentiated as comic rustic and witty fool. They were characterised by shrewdness and self-interest; much of their success depended on improvised action and topical jokes. Arlecchino (Harlequin), one of the zanni, was created by Tristano Martinelli as the witty servant, nimble and gay; as a lover, he became capricious, often heartless. Pedrolino was his counterpart. Doltish yet honest, he was often the victim of his fellow comedians’ pranks. As Pierrot, his winsome character carried over into later French pantomimes. The zanni used certain tricks of their trade: practical jokes (burle)—often the fool, thinking he had tricked the clown, had the tables turned on him by a rustic wit as clever, if not so nimble, as his own—and comic business (lazzi).

Source: Britannica

Another Point Of Interest

It is the revival of the Commedia in Italy after World War II by Amleto and Donato Sartori. There is now an International Museum of the Mask in Abano Terme near Padua in Italy. After my degree study, in 1989, I went to Padua and talked to Donato about the Commedia and mask making. The manufacture of masks is a highly specialised art form. Actors at the time of my visit went to Padua and stayed there for a considerable time being measured and modelled until the mask virtually grew on their face.

Here is a picture of an Arlecchino mask. It’s mine. I bought it in Venice for around $300.

My final task for this degree was to write a long essay with two aims: a critique of the plays of Robert Bolt and an account of my Theatre In Education work at Nepean College Of Advanced Education.

Robert Bolt has my enduring respect. I haven’t read his plays since those readings before 1980 but they are still vivid in my mind. I remember my sympathy for the central character in Flowering Cherry when he finally over reaches and dies. The Tiger and the Horse also generated my sympathy for the wife of the ambitious professor who finally realises what he has done to his wife through his relentless drive.

A Man For All Seasons  is one of my favourite plays. I particularly remember the role of the common man who acts as a chorus and as other characters including the executioner.

The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew inspired me as a teacher. In my many teaching days I have not found a better work for children.

Vivat! Vivat Regina! is another play I remember with much respect. I remember especially the dignity with which Mary Queen of Scots faced the executioner.

State of Revolution, Bolt’s last performed play, was produced after I studied for this degree.

Theatre In Education (TIE)

Theatre in Education is my passionate field, and I have had considerable experience in it. I had my own student TIE Company, the Phoenix People, at Nepean CAE. The group performed with dignity and success in Western Sydney schools for audiences totalling more that 4,000. 

To complete my final task for the degree I had to write an account of this aspect of my teaching days. First we contacted schools around the College offering to write and perform plays on the subject of their choice. Two plays resulted, one Imagination Can Set You Free, an Arthurian play about the heroic defeat of a dragon, and Billy Button, the story of a teenage convict who was sent to New South Wales.

In my later years, I went to Coventry, by choice that is, and interacted with the Belgrade TIE Company, the originators of TIE. I used this 1987 study leave to explore theatre throughout much of Australia, in Italy, Germany, France, and in the UK.

Here are images of the King Arthur TIE play: The audience: School for Deaf and Blind, Sydney.

Here is a newspaper action shot of the Billy Button play.

School: St Marys Primary

I hope this humble set of recollections, despite my numerous flaws and omissions, touches on some of the joys of the study experience. How lucky I was to have studied before the imposition of the HECS tax on students! My knowledge from those three degrees has been shared with thousands of students. That learning was supported by governments, not penalised.

royciebaby

Here is the third testamur (Pass with Merit).

Another Poetical Outburst

Image Attribution: Creative Commons, “Bluemoon ” by Craig Deakin from Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Man In The Moon

The Man In The Moon will be speaking soon

So I hope you’ll be paying attention

If you lend your ear to his merry tune

You might even get a mention

Ah there he is coming past

From his place behind a cloud

He will simply smile if you look aghast

Your misgiving is allowed

Good evening Sir I welcome you

With your gloss on the heavenly word

We know that your statements are always true

Dispute is quite absurd

So lay on good fellow I’ve said enough

Give us your thoughts to peruse

As life with the virus has been very tough

We long to hear your news

Why it is my joy to speak tonight

And I thank you for the greeting

I hail you all with sheer delight

It is a pleasant meeting

There is much ado to share with you

In the world beneath my gaze

It’s surprising what some humans will do

As they blunder through their days

Take the climate for instance there’s little insistence

Despite the disastrous storming

The nincompoops rave with a ton of resistance

To the facts of global warming

They claim the scientist is a liar

With little grasp of the weather

When they talk the same way about drought and fire

You can knock me down with a feather

And then there’s oil lying safe in the soil

But struck it makes so much money

When it starts to boil it makes me recoil

The turmoil is far from funny

Now I’m just beginning to speak of this sinning

And put my watertight  case

Despite human thinning the stock market’s winning

While the poor can’t get to first base

And every morning at the dawning

When you breathe the foul air’s smudge

With smoke as a warning yet marketeers fawning

How can you not hold a grudge?

Another complaint I need to make

Is that rainforest gets destroyed

When they savage the trees for money’s sake

I’m extravagantly annoyed

Yet one other thought has more sad features

Because of the anguish of fire

It cremates so many beautiful creatures

As tomorrow dies on the pyre

The time has come to gently refrain

Even though I’ve more to say

The sun will soon rise yet again

To herald another day

So it’s good luck to you whatever you do

I am very pleased to have met you

I hope that my moonstruck hullabaloo 

Did not at this meeting upset you

And now I say toodeloo…

………………..

Public Relations

So that’s it

You want to get somewhere

Be a success 

Without the distress

That rains upon lesser mortals

It’s the reason that you’re here I assume

To discover a way to the top

Well let me see

I think we can talk 

First, all good deeds must stop

Next concept: you need a plan

An agenda of powerful devotions

Remote from rival emotions

Such as service to humanity

Then you cover your own inanity

With attacks on your rivals’ sanity

While you give to yourself a fair image

That may indeed not be real

But will always seem to be…

Now I note you need more advice from me

As great triumph is your aim

Why, keep it simple stupid

It is all a part of a game

Catchy abuse hurled often, can tear a foe to pieces

Opportunity never ceases

So don’t miss a chance to curse

And then you should immerse yourself

In the glory of a media story

Nurse a child, shake an old man’s hand

Wear a big hat as you traverse the land

Drink a schooner of beer in a pub

Chat with a group, and here’s the rub

Always wear a glowing smile…

Never miss an opportunity

To be seen with a doting community

Wear a hard hat in a factory

Prove your health satisfactory

By going for a swim in the surf

To reduce alarm when you visit a farm

Pick up a piece of turf

All this is par for the course

But you clearly need a horse with a different gait

If you are to manipulate Fate

Note well my friend in your quest for fame

There’s one more condition that’s linked to the game

It’s fear

Panic, terror, dread, distress are golden reasons to use duress

More sharp as a weapon than any

So create a foe who’s on the go

A danger feared by many

Lurking there, no everywhere,

Publish that threat to your welfare

Then when this foe becomes one of your tools

You can break the rules in a folly of fools

It’s like riding the waves on a porpoise

As you take away all human rights

And abandon habeas corpus

So work for that end my ambitious friend

Your struggle will then be over

You will have unlimited power

As you look down on the fields of clover

From an unassailable tower

………………..

The Further Adventures Of Simple Simon

Simple Simon met a pieman,

Going to the fair;

Says Simple Simon to the pieman,

Let me taste your ware.

Says the pieman to Simple Simon,

Show me first your penny;

Says Simple Simon to the pieman,

Indeed I have not any.

So Simple Simon went to a bank

Hoping to get a loan

When they asked him for security

He said he was on his own

Said the banker to Simple Simon

Get a fine racehorse and feed it

If it wins you’ll learn what everyone knows

We lend only when you don’t need it

Simple Simon sought to take part

In a very recent election

They addled his brain again and again

To influence his selection

When the big day came he cast his vote

According to what they said

Those fools won power and turned things sour

Then he felt not right in the head

Simple Simon wanted to learn

At a well known university

He sought to study a long held delight

In the midst of that diversity

Said the bursar to Simple Simon

You have in your hands the wrong knob

Don’t pay so much for history

As it won’t get you a job

Simple Simon now getting old

Was looking for a pension

His clothes were worn and the weather was cold

His health was worth a mention

Said the statesman to simple Simon

It’s the truth and I can’t fudge it

You’ll have no juicy steaks to carve

Because of our balanced budget

Simple Simon had had enough

He was weary of life’s harsh ways

All he wanted was a bit of peace

To help him through his last days

So Simple Simon went to church

Heard the vicar speak of things sinister

Cheer up old friend the cleric said

You could be the Prime Minister

Simple Simon was lost for words

Still finding life hard to live…

He went for water in a sieve

But soon it all fell through

And now poor Simple Simon

Bids you all adieu!

………………..

Friends Of The Jolly Miller

And this the burden of his song

Forever used to be,

I care for nobody, no not I,

And nobody cares for me

From: The Jolly Miller Nursery Rime

O I am a student

And I struggle with my debts

All the live long day

So my right to learn

Rests on what I can earn

What more can I say?

O I am a nurse

And I work for a song

Even though my day is long

Many souls I save

From an early grave

What more can I say?

O I am a teacher

I strive for perfection

And struggle to make a connection

But my piddling wage

Is the sin of the age

What more can I say?

O I’m a paramedic

Every day I strive

To keep damaged souls alive

But my income is too low

I wish it wasn’t so

What more can I say?

O I’m a social worker

And my pay is meagre

Yet I am most eager

To save both kith and kin

From their lifelong poverty spin

What more can I say?

O I am a rhymer

And I strive with rigour 

To write with vim and vigour

Although I try

It’s just pie in the sky

What more can I say?

………………..

royciebaby

The Muse Is Still At Work

Attribution: Creative Commons Licence

University Blues

Vivat academia,

Vivant professores,

Vivat membrum quodlibet,

Vivat membra quaelibet;

Semper sint in flore!

(May they always flourish)

I have a dream 

That I might seem

A joyous learnèd scholar

But now I fear I’ll be left on a shelf

Because of the cursèd dollar

Please if you can, give to me 

Some details of the cost

So I can seek an epitome

And my time will not be lost

As my thoughts unwind I fly

In my mind around the earth

To learn the sanctified story

Of the ages before my birth

But as I strive for this glory

There’s a scheme I may deplore

If I study history

Tell me, will it cost me more?

Other thoughts disturb me

As they kindle new dark fears

If I read for poetry

Will my invoice be in arrears?

What about philosophy?

Should I look for a deal

Or failing this, episcopacy

For cheaper religious zeal?

Another thought to cross my mind

Is a course in Egyptology

Will that expense mean I must find

My only recourse is psychology?

Now Shakespeare is a passion of mine

To be or not to be

Will the Bard be a virtual fine

And leave me in penury?

O why O why is my humble voice

Linked to the churls of finance?

Why must I fear that my student choice

Is the reason I’m held askance?

There comes a time in a world sublime

When critics are meticulous

If the chief does a deed sans reason or rhyme

It is rightfully branded ridiculous

And so kind sir I take my leave and comment on your service

You have shown me the cost when freedom is lost

And made me extremely nervous

So I will be off highly tempted to scoff yet retaining my decorum

Though every semester will demand an investor

The seers of good sense will ignore ’em… gaudeamus igitur

………………..

An Impolite Message

Let us shut our eyes

And talk about the weather

Gilbert and Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance

Begone dull fool

And take your great lies with you

Science should be a tool

Not a horse without a tether

You must obey one rule

If you talk about the weather

Evidence my friend

Gives you the right to speak

God’s truth you must defend

Or your influence is weak

You prattle with divergencies

Designed to hide reality

Describing the emergencies

With constant bleak banality

Meanwhile the world is in a spin

With drought and fire and storm

While you proclaim with a sickly grin

It’s nothing but the norm

You spread falsehoods like jam on bread

A kind of last repast

If you have your way we’ll all be dead

False colours nailed to the mast

You lie about this you lie about that

With flights of fancy forming

Your status is slightly less than a rat

In the light of global warming

You tell tall tales and play your role

To keep the trade fires burning

While the future of man falls into a hole

With the wheels of industry turning

Thus the air we love suffers above

In a surplus of CO𝟸

You gently tweet like a turtle dove

But not a word is true

So be on your way you devious worm

Before I grind you to pieces

Or you’re put away for a sizeable term

As all that you’ve said is so specious 

That’s it; that ends my harangue

Now I’ll brush you away with a duster

So you’ll disappear with a bang

Caught up in a Southerly Buster*

____________________________

*Only one thing left to say…Have a nice day.

………………..

Concerning My Black Armband

Hello

Welcome

Please come in…

Take a seat…

There 

Now we can be

Relaxed and comfortable 

Tell me

What’s all this mystery about history

Not getting your attention

As in your world 

Only business gets a mention?

Is not the now

A child of what once was?

And does not time present

Beat the drum for time future?

Were you there

When they chose to free Barabbas?

Did you seek to count the dead at Peterloo?

Did you take a breath of deadly gas at Ypres?

Have you heard of the mournful Creek named Waterloo?

Have you seen the fine Enola Gay display?

Did you notice genocide down Dresden way?

Have you found the reason yet for Vietnam’s war?

Was Rwanda an evil Hell or something more?

Were you swept away by the grief of 9/11?

Or by King Leopold’s Congo paean of greed?

Does Death still line the battered streets of Yemen? 

Does the Unknown Soldier extol a futile deed?

So many questions pound upon the brain

And conjure forth more pity than disdain

O must we not rap with hope on history’s door

If madness is to hold its sway no more?

For the sake of countless lives that were destroyed

Bygone lessons have to be deployed

There is so much from early days to master

Lest present follies lead us to disaster

O brother, why look you so aghast?

The choice is yours, there’s guidance in the past

And if I fail to change your point of view

The old will quickly vilify the new

So tell me please, just what do we need to do?

What think you, pray?

Can yesterday be relevant today?

Oh my! 

Your words are what I feared to hear you say

So on my own I’ll scan the ages proudly

Begone my friend; it’s time you went away

Leave quickly ere I curse your mind more loudly

In ways that are unbecoming…

……………….

On The Matter of Waterloo Creek

The massacre at Myall Creek was just one of a sequence of violent events that accompanied settler expansion in the Gwydir region of north-eastern NSW in the 19th century.

While it is likely that only a fraction of the violence is recorded in the conventional historical record, it is telling that a contemporary authority and eyewitness, Muswellbrook police magistrate Edward Denny Day, termed this conflict ‘a war of extermination’.

Violent attacks increased in savagery towards the latter part of the decade. The summer of 1837­–38 was particularly violent. Major James Nunn, the Commandant of the New South Wales Mounted Police, had been sent from Sydney to lead a punitive expedition against the Aboriginal people who had killed stockmen in separate incidents of Frontier conflict.

His response, however, was extreme. On 26 January 1838 Nunn and his men massacred up to 50 Aboriginal people camped at Waterloo Creek (my bold). They also encouraged nearby stockmen and settlers to murder any Aboriginal person they came across.

Source: https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/myall-creek-massacre National Museum Australia 

royciebaby

Dear Reader

I accidentally Liked this post and haven’t been able to erase it. I am not vain, just stupid. R.

Still More Poems

Overheard Voices

Sweet poesy! that hath anciently had kings, emperors, senators, great captains, such as, besides a thousand others, David, Adrian, Sophocles, Germanicus, not only to favour poets, but to be poets…

But I speak to this purpose, that all the end of the comical part be not upon such scornful matters as stir laughter only, but mix with it that delightful teaching which is the end of poesy. Sir Phillip Sidney: The Defense of Poesy

Polly Put The Kettle On

Welcome

It’s good to see you

Thank you for the visit

The main idea is to polish our policies

Get on with the real task of running the country

As you know

Things have not been going well lately

Umberton is putting a spanner in the works

He’s a cursèd idealist of the worst kind

Wants to get rid of coal completely

Fund renewables at the cost of our oil search program

Even put the kibosh on the demolition of the town hall

Who cares if it’s the last of its kind?

Then last Tuesday

You’ll never guess what he did

He sought to penalise wrong use of insecticides on farms

Just imagine what that would do to our electorates

On top of that

And this is the last straw

He wants to force all corporations 

To contribute to an Environment Protection Plan

Bloody Hell!

What will he think of next?

You see my friend we have work to do

We’ve got to organise public opinion

Work with the Press as usual

To make sure that our program of expansion

Is not stifled

That it lives and breathes where it counts

The market must be respected

As I said in a recent speech: 

Free enterprise is the cradle that nurtures us all

We have to act now before it is too late

So that’s why it’s good to see you

I’ll tell you what

Let’s make a cup of tea

And then let’s get down to business

Really get down to business…

………………………………………..

A Consequence Of Time

Hi there

Come right in

It’s good to see you

Through here, that’s right

In there

Take a seat

Would you like a drink?

No?

All right then

Let’s get on with it

The reason I’ve called you in

Is quite straightforward

Things are not crash hot with the firm 

Business is uncertain

The times are truly changing

And we have had to move with those changes

You no doubt have noticed differences lately

Alterations we’ve just completed 

In fact it’s a significant restructure 

Of the company

Basically to ensure survival

This has given us a major challenge

With our staffing needs

Now what does that mean for you?

Well…how long have you been with us?

Thirty seven years

Yes I assumed it was something like that

Anyway the reality is

The work you have done so well in the past

Is no longer relevant

What does that mean?

It means my dear friend

Sadly we are in no further need of your services

The position you leave will not be vacant

It will not exist 

As I said before we have had to move on

How old are you now?

Fifty-eight?

Ah yes well you see our future

To put it bluntly, depends almost entirely on youth

No there is no way we can fit you in

It’s all a matter of fiscal expertise

Indeed of survival itself

Now one of the reasons you are here at this moment

Is for me to thank you personally

For the years of outstanding service

You have given us

There will be severance pay of course

This handshake is one I give gladly

To wish you, your wife and family well 

In the days and years ahead

God bless

………………………………………..

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me

Greetings

You are most welcome

Is this your usual job?

Good

Now where were we last time?

Ah yes

Checking out the records of detention

You will find 

Things going according to plan

Only four hundred inmates left

All confined without redress

Children not a problem any longer 

Except for a few

Despite exposés

From the inquisitive media

PR top of the class

Constant emphasis on people smugglers

Working well

Justifying our iron clad objective

To ban entry

Regarding occasional mental health issues

We have managed to curtail reporting

So this has kept things quiet

Parliamentary back-up excellent

A nice bipartisan mood still applies

Even though minorities

Occasionally disturb the peace a little

Stop the boats

An almost out of date slogan now

As indefinite detention is 

Going so well

As to the funding 

We keep it quiet

The cost is one billion a year

So there you have it my friend

Up to date facts

On our penal domain

Everything’s good

I can clearly say

No problems now remain

………………………………………..

Survival Talk

Hello

Is that you Charles?

It’s me Merton

Look

We have a problem

That self interested bastard Coles

Is at it again

He’s been gathering support

And I think 

We’re in for a spill

No I mean it

All the signs are there

He’s been brown nosing with Carlingford

Since our last Cabinet do

And I noticed him in close talk

With Schultz last week

At the Corporate Affairs Conference

Now this is big trouble

If we don’t watch our step

He’ll link up with Condon

And we won’t have a snowflake’s chance in Hell

Of surviving

What are we going to do about it?

Here’s what we’re gunna do my friend

We’re gunna attack

All guns blazing

Do you remember the Venus Brothel incident

A few years ago?

Yes, that’s it

Coles was photographed in the street outside it

He sued the paper for damages

And lost

Now that’s the point

He lost

The aroma of doubt still exists

Unruly testosterone in the political sphere

I know with the aid of a couple of my Press mates

We can find some new evidence

Cook up a tale of secret vice for Coles

The truth doesn’t matter

As long as the story exists

We can really go to town with this

And the sparks will fly

In the meantime

We need to keep alert with the others

Promise Carlingford our support ad infinitum

Release the report on Condon’s study leave in Paris

And back Shultz for that post overseas

All right my friend

Now there’s work to do

Go to it

I’ll talk to you later

………………………………………..

Who Has Seen The World Aflame?

On the 2019-20 bushfires in Australia

Where have you been in recent times?

Have you seen the fiery effects of CO𝟸?

Did you feel the heat?

Did you hear the trees alight cry out in pain

And see their leaves fly away from normality

As burning embers

Setting fire to other forests of disastrous worldly schemes?

In the midst of all this

Did you support the paranoia of climate doubt?

Yes? I cannot continue this discussion

Because the world is still aflame

In my mind

Cooked to a cinder like a Pudding Lane house in 66

Yet the need arises to tell the story

To strive to impose wisdom on a witless world

Even though the smoke of the inferno

No longer curses my eyes

Or maligns my breathing with a malevolence

That takes away my sanity

As I hear again

The sirens sound the death knell

Of my tomorrows

………………………………………..

Instructions to Schools 2084

Children must be tested

Thoroughly and without deviation

To promote compliance with the norm

Difference brings intense remediation

Plead for funds if you wish

But do not be over demanding

For thrift must be the rule

With government revenue

Teach the arts

But sparingly, lest revolution show its risky face

Train the drones for work in the market place

Beware of satire and humour

For laughter is a threat to equanimity

Teach history synthesised as a harmless piece

Of mystery

This above all, observe approved practices

As you keep costs down if you can

And it shall follow as the night the day

Each child will grow according to the plan

………………………………………..

Curriculum 2084

What must our children learn today

In this arid testing time?

How to save water they need to know

As the rivers no longer flow

An attitude to lightning 

Will clearly be the norm

As violence shakes the world each day

In the shape of a savage storm

History of science will be much taught

With links to all the great theses

Lots of pictures and ancient films

To remind us of lost species

Admen will sponsor our daily life

With a constant barrage of lies

So children must learn the crucial art

Of rejecting what truth denies

Above all else will be the need

To reach out for pure air

Since what was once a heavenly breath

Is now no longer there

Teachers will teach and pupils will reach

A stage of desired augmentation

Whatever the outcome our leaders will say

It’s all for the good of the nation

………………………………………..

Bedtime 2084

Time for sleeping Daddy?

Yes my love

Will you tell me things before I sleep?

Yes my love

What was a tree Daddy?

It was a tall post with arms and things called leaves my love

What was a bird Daddy?

It was a living spirit with wings that flew through the air my love

What is a flower Daddy?

A beautiful joy that one day you still might see my love

What was a butterfly Daddy?

A pretty thing that danced on the air my love

What was a tiger Daddy?

A brave and noble creature once roaming the earth my love

Why is the sea so angry Daddy?

Storms without end give it no peace my love

What is a split atom Daddy?

A nasty thing that blights the world my love

I am tired now Daddy I think I will go to sleep

Good night my love; rest well

………………………………………..

A Word From The Sponsor

Thank you for providing such interesting films

For me to purloin for profit

I enjoy so much

Interrupting each plot at a crucial moment

As this sells so well

With the would be client’s attention at its peak

News bulletins also

Are a major source of funds

Murder and violence take interest for a ride

If you fit an ad in where the victims died

Give those soaps your approval too

Love affairs have a great sale capacity

They have what it takes to sell

And the actors play their parts so well

The actors in the ads I mean

Who catch our gaze with each scene

So there you have it

The arts whose verifiable function now is earning

Will keep the wheels of commerce smoothly turning

So let me assure you

As long as there are Academy Awards and Logies

I will be there to use a constant stream of your time

Raising interest in the adman’s bogeys

For my own ends

Yes. Thank you so much – so very much

………………………………………..

Afterwords

Well now here I am – somewhere

What am I doing here?

According to many I am in my senility

Using the surplus time of my life

To fill pages with my lack of ability

That’s true enough I suppose

No work – little play

A recipe for a dull old man

And yet maybe 

There are some extenuating circumstances

(Big words I learnt seventy five years ago)

Maybe, just maybe

Someone will read those pages of mine

And get an idea for me or against me

As a consequence

The world will be just a little different

As I wander towards my grave

Rugby: For The Good Of The Game

Hello 

Mr Foxtel

Thank you for your offer

In this land of milk and honey

But I’m afraid that at this stage 

I don’t have any money

Now it’s not my aim to mention

My strife on the old age pension

For I’ve coached many yes many a boy

From out of the hoi polloi

And taught them how to love the game

Spent many hours at training them

Because I felt the same

Gave my time on days of the week

Just to promote the cause

Worked till I felt my old bones creak

With not a drop of applause

Gone to great Test matches too

As a loyal fan

Read many books on players

Knew them man to man

Even played a bit myself

In my younger days

Till age put me on the shelf

As only the fit man plays

So here we are at the end of my road

As I watch your fine commercials

Cloaked as they are in a highly glamorous code

How I long to accept your plan

With up to three months free

But after three wherever I scan

I can’t find a place for me

So thank you very much kind sir

For your exciting chapter and verse

But how in the Hell can I aim for that end

With a totally empty purse?

So good luck to you with your lucrative scheme

Even though your price is high

Sport for me now is no more than a dream

Till I fade away and die…Till I fade away and die……

royciebaby

More Poems

I conjure you all that have had the evill luck to read this inck-wasting toy of mine, even in the name of the nine Muses, no more to scorne the sacred misteries of Poesie. Sir Phillip Sidney: The Defence of Poesie

Endings

Well

Here we are my friend

Picking our way

Through the ruins of our future

And carefully avoiding

The little chunks of litter

That keep falling out of the past 

As if to bar the way,

Or perhaps

To point out what might have been 

Wiser

But always it is in vain

For that is the nature of things

Life as the moments fade

Painstakingly dismantles all that we are

Dismembering our dreams

As if they didn’t exist

Ending our schemes

With a force we cannot resist

So that eventually

Bits and pieces of us

Fall away

Leaving only the faintest memory

Of what has been

Until we exist nowhere

But in the minds of others

Nevertheless

Those minds in the end

Might be the only things that matter

********************

God In Disguise
God In Disguise

Be warned all you pious people

Who frequent the well-worn paths

Of respectability

We have just discovered that God

Has decided to revisit the Earth

Be further advised

That with the foresight

He alone can manage

He has chosen to prevent commotion

By sightseeing in disguise

We hold here His media release

An agenda found on the window sill 

Of a bankrupt press agency

By their last civic roundsman

Somewhere it tells us

He will masquerade as

A lonely desperate man

Pleading for support

So take care if you pass by 

He will be watching what you do.

On another occasion

He will be that runaway child

In a twilight street with no name

Verging on the prostitute’s game

So take care if you pass by 

He will be watching what you do

Another gig of His

Will be difficult to trace

As He will be a black man

Looking for his place

So take care if you pass by 

He will be watching what you do

There’s another place you may see Him

So the message here says

At work in a vast stock market

Where deals are bought and sold

So take care if you pass by 

He will be watching what you do

Finally in the twinkling of an afterthought

He may suddenly appear

In your Parliament of Fools

Where iniquity is bought

So if voting there beware

He will be watching what you do

Dearly beloved citizens

We cannot vouch for the authenticity

Of this uncovered information

In fact it may not be true

Even so fair friends take care  

He will still be watching what you do

********************

Have You Noticed? 

Have you noticed 

How warlike folk cook up 

A recipe for their own self-righteousness? 

They take a measure of enemies 

Add a portion of land and earthly possessions 

A generous quantity of patriotism 

Assiduously mixed with racism and false rumour 

Blended in a sauce of greed with a pinch of fear 

And bring this to the boil 

Stirring constantly until firm and consistent 

Then they garnish it with hatred and serve it 

In man-size quantities on lavish platters 

Upon a snow-white cloth adorned 

With glasses of gloom-altering wine 

To credulous novices in soldiers’ clothing 

Say grace with a serious but benevolent smile 

And then in a final act of elation 

They cry, “God bless our nation!” 

********************

Apathy 

Once I saw a broken man 

Lying in the street 

Abandoned in defeat 

But I did nothing 

For I was prosperous and free 

Once I saw a foreigner 

Punished for the crime 

Of birth in another clime 

But I did nothing 

For I was a patriot and free 

Once I saw a malefactor 

Under fierce attack 

For the sin of being black 

But I did nothing 

For I was  fair-skinned and free 

Once I saw a woman 

Become a weeping wraith 

For the garments of her faith 

But I did nothing 

For I was conformist and free 

Once I saw an activist 

Held without a trial 

Because of a government file 

But I did nothing 

For I was lawful and free 

Now I see an assassin

Of overwhelming might

Pounding on my door without respite 

But I can do nothing

For there is no one to answer for me

********************

Sixty-five Roses

(For The Children With Cystic Fibrosis} 

Intangible things morphemes 

Like imprudent dreams 

Or furtive fears 

Or flimsy formulae of faith in uncertain ideas. 

When you are a child 

Crossing over 

The towering mountains of experience, 

You try to find a pathway to understanding 

By whatever means you can. 

You reach out for things to say 

And even though your words are but feathers 

Floating in the wind, 

You hope that they will help you fly 

To find the place where words are not unknown codes 

But holy meaningful things  

Not clumsy tools that fall and hurt your toes 

But noble powerful friends . . . 

Once in a whimsy 

A child of Fate’s morning 

Mourning 

Sought to say what he did not understand. 

The eyes of his soul 

Saw the beauty of flowers in a garden of despair . . . 

Instead of cystic fibrosis . . . he said, ‘Sixty-five roses.’ 

Then the smiling wind 

As it has been known to do in the past, 

Caught up his idea 

Swirled it around with heavenly pity 

And charged it with such power

That it put a girdle round the earth in milliseconds. 

It was amazing to observe 

That wind of that new morning 

Dawning 

Whisk the words here there and anywhere 

Until by chance 

What was blowing in the wind 

Fell upon the ears of one or two surprised 

But accomplished ad-folk spinners of speech.

Suddenly the light of understanding 

Led these men and women of the world 

Laughingly beyond the place 

Where half truths and controlled innuendoes live 

To where days are pre-occupied with understanding. 

There . . . as a gift transcending even love 

These skilful contemporary bards 

Turned the thoughts of roses into charity cards 

And with the words of a fragile child 

Suddenly converted you and me 

Into a chorus line dancing with compassion

To the enchanted music of innocence

And the twinkling sounds of cash registers opening and closing 

********************

Daddy Longlegs

Look at you

Dancing around my awareness

On your prancing legs of steel

Like a ballerina preoccupied with everything but applause

Why do you make me feel so insignificant?

Me with my old bones aching

Even though

I could crush you in an instant between my fingers

Or worse still wither you with ease

By simply pushing the button on a can

To kill both the innocent and the guilty with its spray

There you stand however

Climbing my insurmountable wall 

Just because it is there

Welcome little friend 

You diminish me so

Even though I can barely make you out amidst my clutter

Climb on valiantly

And leave me here below forever trapped in my own fragility

********************

Work in Progress 

Doctus doce 

Having been taught 

I go forth and teach 

I do not define 

The infinity in which I work 

Or impose upon it 

The constriction of words 

But in the magic 

Of each teaching day 

As I fly on high with my fledglings 

Through the strident storms of ignorance 

And beyond the down draughts of despair 

I feel on my face 

The winds 

That will buffet the dwellers in tomorrow 

And I land on the steps 

Of their houses 

Which I cannot enter 

Except in my dreams 

And through my teaching 

********************

Vive l’école 

A school is not a lifeless thing … 

I found this out today 

When I visited a place 

Where in my yesterdays 

I used to teach 

‘Hello Sir,’ came the voices 

And their looks of recognition 

Seemed to tap me 

On the shoulder 

As I walked across that playground 

At recess time 

And then into the hollow hallways 

Where I heard again the footsteps 

Of the past 

While in its briefly empty classrooms 

I met the echoes of my bygone lessons

And the reflected sounds of yesterday’s pupils 

With their sighs of learning struggle 

Their misdemeanours 

And their Ahas! of the once in a while 

When insight set in 

It was a weird experience this 

A haunted house without ghosts 

Not spooks 

But thoughts and words 

And struggles and despair and hope 

And growth and disobedience 

And little triumphs over learning curves 

And breakthroughs to understanding 

And punishment and distraction 

And anger and hatred and inspiration 

And penalty and injustice and impossible tasks 

And when the last bell rings

Memories of transformations that never end … 

A school is not a lifeless thing   

********************

Categories

Here I am,

Limping through what was once tomorrow,

Struggling, sighing, crying, prying,

Lying in the clutches of the quicksand known as status. 

Why is this so?  If you should wish to know

The reason for my life’s hiatus,

Visit my classroom of a dozen years ago,

The bleak place where I shall forever be

Confined, entwined, maligned, defined as E

For all the world to see.

Not people in that place

But ordered lists of merit and disgrace,

Probing and molesting after tests ad infinitum,

Whose validity moves only fools to cite ’em.

So from that space in my stark inferiority,

Degraded by implied superiority,

I’ve wandered aimlessly beyond my sanity,

Longing to meet unclassified humanity.

O why am I cursed, reviled and frowned upon

Because I am not an alpha but an epsilon?

********************

Super Woman 

Oh my 

What a special person! 

A priceless spirit

That woman in the supermarket crush

Who gave her place 

In the the check-out rush 

To me. 

Me with no right of passage, no space, no refuge a red hot sale 30% extra free compare our prices time to buy get it while stocks last fresh food folk make your dreams come true monster sale buy two get one free save save save with omega 3 fresh squeezed daily only six weeks to Christmas manager’s special don’t miss our best warehouse clearance win a trip to Hawaii save even more spring specials it’s new free gifts fuel discount offer out they go a free CD with every box guaranteed lowest prices nobody beats us one huge clearance bargain priced meat strong and bitey guaranteed no msg no preservatives from the garden to you end of year deals all are reduced now for quick sale please make all bags available for staff checking thank you. 

I kissed that dear lady 

For her gift of courtesy 

Giving way to me in the depths of my old age 

There should be more of her ilk 

And the only things I needed 

Were bread and butter and milk

********************

The Right Honourable Mephistopheles

Mister Speaker 

This is an emergency

It’s a time of stress

We must balance the budget

For the good of the nation

In terms of our mandate

And to counter privation 

With our current program

No unnecessary hindrance

To implement best practice policies

Devised by several recognised experts

With the best possible intentions

As determined over and over again

Even in times of war

Or still more potently in peace time

As our nation’s history will clearly show

Unless of course the records are incomplete

Which even so will not deter us

Because we have the voice of experience

That echoes down the hallways of history

And in other places

Dedicated to the wellbeing of us all

Or even those who are not yet eligible to vote

Children or immigrants

Excluding of course the mentally ill

Who will in due course recover partially

Or fully, according to programs we have set in train

Fully funded

With the most noble intentions

For the good of us all

Give or take one or two exceptions

In the best of all possible worlds

So we must act

Mr Speaker 

Today all pensions

Will be cut by two percent

********************

royciebaby

Still More University Days And Nights

Another Continuation of My University Story

I began my MEd studies the year after I graduated with my BA, 1968. In the meantime I moved from my position at Granville Boys High School to History Master at Dover Heights Girls High School. Geographically my new teaching position was relatively close to the University of New South Wales, my place of study. This was a help.

If you are a teacher, the interesting thing about such part time study of eduction is how linked it is to your profession. Somehow it makes you think twice about teaching behaviour that previously had seemed natural and appropriate.

The course work I elected to do was Child Growth and Development and Educational Planning and Administration. The second choice turned out to be a wise one when I moved to the girls’ high school as there, for the first time, I was in charge of a school department with several staff members.

I still remember much of Child Growth and Development, probably because it was so relevant to my teaching in so many different ways. I remember Freud and his id, ego and super ego. Those unconscious urges were interesting then but as time passed, I realised there was much more to learn about human behaviour. 

I remember, during that year of study, thinking how clever Shakespeare was to have Lady Macbeth constantly wash her hands to wash away her guilt. That novel Freudian idea fades away in the context of Coronavirus doesn’t it? Another memory is the struggle between life force Eros and Thanatos or death instinct. I remember feeling happy about Freud’s belief in the dominating strength of Eros.

In later life I have also learned that Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew, possibly had more immediate and dramatic influence on society than his uncle. Bernays’ Public Relations are so much a part of modern life aren’t they?

Carl Jung is also there in my memory but I remember most clearly his notion of the collective unconscious. Somehow there still seems to be some justification for this idea. I found Jung’s opinions convincing, despite his critics. This is possibly because as a history teacher I have come to believe that we cannot escape the past.

Jean Piaget is the dominant part of my recollection regarding this course of study. I was quite swept away by the links I saw between his stages of learning and pupils I had taught, especially in my infants teaching stage. Piaget’s emphasis on the power of teaching as a part of cognitive development inspired me.

Piaget’s theory concerning the way a child constructs meaning at different stages, still rings true to me. Especially welcome is his view that intelligence is not an unchanging, predetermined statistic.

Erik Erikson is another memory of an important cognitive theorist.  I learnt about how he too believed in stages of development, in his case eight, linked to psychosocial interaction. He reminded me, in a number of ways, of Freud. His notion of stages depended on a series of crises from birth to adulthood, with success linked to trust in the earliest stage. His notion of “basic trust” seems to knock on my memory door. I still find Erikson interesting but wonder if any theorist can tell the whole story – can control all the variables of any research.

Behaviourists had an important place in this course. I remember especially Edward Thorndike’s Law of Effect as a prelude to later behaviourism. Thorndike’s principle suggests that responses giving satisfaction will recur more often. Dissatisfaction will tend to reduce recurrence. I have not found any reason to criticise the Law of Effect. It seems so logical.

John Watson and B F Skinner were important in the course. They seemed to extend Thorndike’s work. Operant conditioning dominates my memories: learning through rewards and punishment in response to behaviour. At the time, this theory dominated much of my learning. In later life I have become less fond of these theorists because of the harshness of their techniques and the effects on the animals and children used for their research.

John Watson was a major early experience of behaviourism for me. Conditioning, as I said before, was the key to his influence – a dramatic extension of Pavlov. Behaviour was to be the source of prediction and control by the psychologist. The dangers of control are a warning I now feel in later life. When I was teaching in a university milieu, some of my colleagues used to speak of “behaviour mod.” as a useful tool to establish authority. These days it doesn’t have my absolute respect.

Then there was B F Skinner. What a champion he was for my lecturers! Not for me now. I remember the Skinner box, his invention for recording the behaviour of rats. For Skinner, learning was a series of conditioned responses always controlled by the environment. Mind was nothing but a myth.

I was asked to read his utopian novel Walden Two. This I did with some enjoyment. The title is an overt reference to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden: a tale of a simple existence close to a natural environment. In Walden Two, everyone is happy as life is controlled by a program of behavioural engineering begun at birth. I remember a funny incident where a man gives performances as the World’s Greatest Bore. His performances are banned and shut down because he draws such vast crowds.

I remember especially John Bowlby and his Child Care and the Growth of Love. This researcher has stayed with me ever since, probably because I believe so strongly in the power of parental love for children. Mental health, Bowlby claimed, was closely linked to maternal care and was also a function of support from fathers and family members. In later life I have come to believe this even more strongly.

One of the interesting aspects of this program of study was the way examination trauma was reduced. We were given the final examination question on the first day of the course. This is a brilliant way to get rid of examination fears. It’s still rigorous as you have to produce your answer under examination conditions, and the answer reflects your study during the year. I managed a credit in the exam. A rare achievement for me.

My studies of Educational Planning and Administration were exciting. At 4PM every Wednesday for much of a year we met in a university room, chaired by the Professor of Education of the University, Professor J J Pratt. He was a truly wonderful teacher.

We talked about current administration experience each of us, the students, had. We took turns at holding the floor while the others made judgements and discussed solutions. We were a diverse group, working in a wide range of teaching climates. The discussions were very stimulating, with the Professor leading us to wider awareness of possible solutions to problems.

One of my memories stands out: Andrew Halpin, The Organisational Climate Of Schools. A most inspiring influence during these studies was this man. 

He was concerned intensely with what we still call school climate. I found his suggestion that every school can be distinguished by a unique administrative style or atmosphere very convincing.

To me then and now, this is like saying that each school has a personality similar to that of a particular person. As I have walked into so many schools during my lifetime, I have been struck by the range of different atmospheres (climates) unfolding. The children too, so often reflect the climate of the school – cheerful courtesy perhaps, or sometimes a cold, anxious stare.

In addition to Open and Closed climates, Halpin et al. referred to Paternal, Familiar, Controlled and Autonomous types. With the Paternal type the principal acts independently and does not use the leadership skills of his subordinates.

The Familiar Climate features much socialising but relatively little focus on task orientation. In contrast, the Controlled category is impersonal and features high concentration on task. The Autonomous Climate is characterised by leadership emerging from the group with little contact with the principal. The group is so focused on task achievement.

The two extremes I remember best. They have more support among academics than the other four categories. The Open Climate is characterised by what Halpin called “authenticity.” This involves both principal and staff working cooperatively and supportively. The Closed Climate is very different, featuring a more isolated principal, obsessed with trivia and matters irrelevant to the needs of the teaching staff. I have personally worked amidst both categories.

In all the years passing since my first study of Halpin, I have retained my respect for his approach. The terminology may change but the reality remains.

My own research program constituted the major task for this degree. I was interested in the effects of praise and blame on pupils’ classroom performance. The technique I used was interaction analysis after the Ned Flanders model (with no reference to the Simpsons), but as refined by Amidon, Edmund J and Hough, John J.

I used a control group, a praise group and a blame group. For performance data, I was testing (a) factual recall of specific lessons and (b) creativity, as defined by E Paul Torrance.

Torrance’s definition of creativity was interesting. Here it is quoted from the site given:

Torrance drew on contemporary research that related creativity to divergent thinking—the characteristic of coming up with more answers, or more original answers, rather than deriving a single best answer. That divergent-thinking trait might exhibit itself in different situations, so that, in Torrance’s view, the creativity shown by an artist was not different in type than the creativity shown by a scientist, a teacher, or a parent. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking were the work of Paul Torrance’s lifetime. They are still widely used to assess students and job applicants, and have been translated into more than 50 languages.

Source: Studio 360 December 14, 2017 · 4:00 PM EST Producer Kerrie Hillman.

So a unique answer was highly creative while the less creative answers were those repeated often. I was fascinated by the possibility of furthering creativity in the human spirit. A dream I still have.

In my study I worked with several classes from state schools, including some of my own from Granville Boys High School and Dover Heights girls. In those days you had to get permission to do research in state schools. This was given to me by Dr Ralph Rawlinson, Head of Research for the Department of Education. I was very grateful for the support.

At that time when there was no internet, research tools were, compared to today’s, decidedly primitive. The computer was in its infant stage. The university had one. It was a very big infant; so big it was used by the government to process exams for the whole state of New South Wales.

You had to find a good time to use it. There was nothing like today’s sophistication, so you had to punch your experimental results on cards and feed them into the computer. A day or days later, when you came to collect your results, you hoped there was a big bundle waiting for you on the shelf. If it was thin, you knew that it had failed to process and you had to do it all again.

What of the results for my research? Life is complex and so is research into it. I standardised my praise and blame so that all groups had the same words. I controlled for age, for gender, for past success, for parents’ profession and even for windy days, using analysis of covariance. I checked the scores with Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of variance and studied regression with my results.

I found no significant difference with either praise or blame. That was a long journey that lasted years without the result I was seeking. But that journey was worth making and had its benefits for other researchers.

There was one significant complication during my studies. An event that made things a little more challenging.

It was the loss of a brief case with all my research in it. I put it on the roof of my VW Beetle when getting in and then drove off. I noticed a bit of a bump when I rounded a corner but didn’t think twice about it. When I arrived to do some work at the Dover Heights school, I realised what I had done.

I had to repeat parts of the research, not all of it because I had some duplication. I learnt later that some of the senior girls had gone looking for my brief case along the route I took. Deeds like that plus the support of Jean Pocock, the principal, helped me keep on with the voyage to completion. Eventually the journey ended and I wrote my thesis.

The title on the cover is:

AN ANALYSIS OF TH EFFECTS OF CHANGING PATTERNS OF CLASSROOM INTERACTION ON PUPIL PERFORMANCE 1973

Three copies were made: one for the library, one for the faculty and one I still own. You can read the University’s copy in the archives. Its contents still have a place in my mind all these years later. I realise now I told only a small part of the story and I still have so much to learn.

royciebaby

Just Poems

Only a little reading time today.

Who Has Seen The World Aflame?

On the 2019-20 bushfires in Australia

Where have you been in recent times?

Have you seen the fiery effects of CO𝟸?

Did you feel the heat?

Did you hear the trees alight cry out in pain

And see their leaves fly away from normality

As burning embers

Setting fire to other forests of worldly schemes?

In the midst of all this

Did you support the paranoia of climate doubt?

Yes? I cannot continue this discussion

Because the world is still aflame

In my mind

Cooked to a cinder like a Pudding Lane house in 66

Yet the need arises to tell the story

To strive to impose wisdom on a witless world

Even though the smoke of the inferno

No longer curses my eyes

Or maligns my breathing with a malevolence

That takes away my sanity

As I hear again

The sirens sound the death knell

Of my tomorrows

5 May 2020

Instructions to Schools 2084

Children must be tested

Thoroughly and without deviation

To promote compliance with the norm

Difference brings intense remediation

Plead for funds if you wish

But do not be over demanding

For thrift must be the rule

With government revenue

Teach the arts

But sparingly lest revolution show its dangerous face

Train the drones for work in the market place

Beware of satire and humour

For laughter is a threat to equanimity

Teach history synthesised as a harmless piece

Of mystery

This above all, observe approved practices

As you impose a spending ban

And it shall follow as the night the day

Each child will grow according to the plan

8 May 2020

Curriculum 2084

What must our children learn today

In this arid testing time?

How to save water they need to know

As the rivers no longer flow

An attitude to lightning 

Will clearly be the norm

As violence shakes the world each day

In the shape of a savage storm

History of science will be much taught

With links to all the great theses

Lots of pictures and ancient films

To remind us of lost species

Admen will sponsor our daily life

With a constant barrage of lies

So children must learn the crucial art

Of rejecting what truth denies

Above all else will be the need

To reach out for pure air

Since what was once a heavenly breath

Is now no longer there

Teachers will teach and pupils will reach

A stage of desired augmentation

Whatever the outcome our leaders will say

It’s all for the good of the nation

2 May 2020

Bedtime 2084

Time for sleeping Daddy?

Yes my love

Will you tell me things before I sleep?

Yes my love

What was a tree Daddy?

It was a tall post with arms and things called leaves my love

What was a bird Daddy?

It was a living spirit with wings that flew through the air my love

What is a flower Daddy?

A beautiful joy that one day you still might see my love

What was a butterfly Daddy?

A pretty thing that danced on the air my love

What was a tiger Daddy?

A brave and noble creature once roaming the earth my love

Why is the sea so angry Daddy?

Storms without end give it no peace my love

What is a split atom Daddy?

A nasty thing that blights the world my love

I am tired now Daddy I think I will go to sleep

Good night my love; rest well

14 July 2012

A Word From The Sponsor

Thank you for providing such interesting films

For me to purloin for profit

I enjoy so much

Interrupting each plot at a crucial moment

As this sells so well

With the would be client’s attention at its peak

News bulletins also

Are a major source of funds

Murder and violence take interest for a ride

If you fit an ad in where the victims died

Give those soaps your approval too

Love affairs have a great sale capacity

They have what it takes to sell

And the actors play their parts so well

The actors in the ads I mean

Who catch our gaze with each scene

So there you have it

The arts whose verifiable function now is earning

Will keep the wheels of commerce smoothly turning

So let me assure you

As long as there are Academy Awards and Logies

I will be there to use a constant stream of your time

Raising interest in the adman’s bogeys

For my own ends

Yes. Thank you so much – so very much

12 May 2020

Minos Inc. of 2084

 The first Minos was a Greek king, very rich and powerful.

Tell me Minos Inc. what do clouds do?

Clouds give us rain polluted by me.

Tell me Minos Inc. what does rain do?

Rain gives us rivers failing to reach the sea.

Tell me Minos Inc. what does the sea do?

The sea is filled with plastic made by me.

Tell me Minos Inc. what does the plastic do?

The plastic kills the fish once caught by me.

Tell me Minos Inc. what do the fish do?

The fish float dead in the ocean.

Tell me Minos Inc. what does the ocean do?

The ocean is a garbage tip created by me.

Tell me Minos Inc. what does the garbage do?

It washes up on beaches bespoiled by me.

Tell me Minos Inc. what do the beaches do? 

They are zones of people’s despair created by me.

Tell me Minos Inc. what do those people do?

The people retreat sadly to their houses.

Tell me Minos Inc. what do their houses do?

The houses are their shelter from the grime.

Tell me Minos Inc. what does the grime do?

The wind blows it away as dust into the city.

Tell me Minos Inc. what does the city do?

The city is the marketplace where I sell my schemes.

15 September 2012

Afterwords

Well now here I am – somewhere

What am I doing here?

According to many I am in my senility

Using the surplus time of my life

To fill a few pages with my lack of ability

That’s true enough I suppose

No work – little play

A recipe for a dull old man

And yet maybe 

There are some extenuating circumstances

(Big words I learnt seventy five years ago)

Maybe, just maybe

Someone will read those pages of mine

And get an idea for me or against me

As a consequence

The world will be just a little different

As I wander towards my grave

14 May 2010

That’s all for the moment. Thank you for coming here.

royciebaby

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