Tea Break From The Cricket

Poems Through A Glass Starkly

News

  A Word On The Yellow Press

That picture above of the Yellow Kid is linked to the reason we have the current term “Yellow Press.” The cartoon character was the creation of Richard Fenton Outcault who was working in the 1890s in the United States for the extremely racist media mogul Joseph Pulitzer and his New York World. Outcault with his narrative cartoon style is generally regarded as the beginner of newspaper comics.

The Kid was an overtly shallow and uneducated character and spoke in a kind of  uneducated and “immigrant” language. One key aim: denigration. Pulitzer would have been pleased with the colour yellow as he had an intense hatred of Chinese, especially the mid-nineteenth century gold seekers. The head of the Kid was shaved, a common sight in that age of head lice, and he wore a nightshirt that was an inheritance from a sister and on which were written strange, attention getting statements that many thousands of readers took delight in.

Now the story of the Yellow Kid or, to give him his appointed name Mickey Dugan, has a quite startling relevance to our contemporary lives. His adventures were set in a New York Slum – Hogan’s Alley – in a time of widespread poverty and vast social and racial tension. These exploits captured the interest of a multitude. Newspapers largely without real news suddenly were beginning to make a profit – a big profit. Two pennies bought Mickey; to Hell with thinking about worldly matters!

The Yellow Kid was very significantly a distraction from vital news. He sold newspapers and helped change Pulitzer’s insignificant rag into a goldmine of 300,000 circulation. Arm in arm with rape and murder and scandal and war the Kid helped set a news-media pattern that still exists all around us today. The task for Pulitzer and Hearst was not to educate with true, important information but rather to present news selectively and fill the gaps with non sequiturs. That meant attract attention in your market in any way you can.

So today, when chosen samples of worthless and sensational trivialities seize our time and create a vast ignorance of reality, the  name”Yellow Press” is relevant. Mickey Dugan and his world live on.

Randolf Hearst saw the yellow light and stole Outcault from Pulitzer with a higher salary. The Yellow Kid remained the property of Pulitzer (verified by court decision) but another colour achieved similar objectives. But the diversion from reality continued. Other distractions like Buster Brown flourished.

Here is Buster.Buster_Brown_alone_mod_color-1

Attribution: Publisher: New York Herald. Date: May 4, 1902. Artist: Richard F. Outcault.

In contrast to the Yellow Kid, Buster Brown was good looking. Buster Keaton at the time was a child actor so the name was popular. The character was drawn first for Pulitzer but when Outcault transferred to Hearst the character went too as another circulation booster for Pulitzer’s former protege and then his rival. Buster appeared for both magnates but a court decision forbade the use of the name by Hearst. Hearst created many more circulation boosting comic figures. Let us not be too hard on the comics as a distraction. They often entertain after all. It’s non stop murder, rape, scandal and violence including war subject matter that need a line to be drawn. The saddest line of all is always a Siegfried line. What have the media done recently to stop wars?

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An Examination of Testing 

It’s testing time in the madhouse

As the beasties seek to see

If the alphas, gammas or deltas

Deserve a right to be

But the testers have delusions

That illusions must be inclusions

So that all they ever find at best

Is who can do their test

No data on morality in this ordeal hiatus

Just an empty number that proclaims your evil status

Sweet alpha we cannot kiss today for I’m an epsilon

I failed their test and can you guess I am now fit to be spat upon?

So all we humble guinea pigs must make a contribution

While flaws and lies imposed on us have a normal distribution

Someone should write a poem now to expose this dark stupidity

Reliable yes to sort the sheep but what about the validity?

Attribution. Cartoon Source: http://www.thelandscapeoflearning.com/2012/09/please-climb-that-tree.html Date of Visit: 16 October, 2017

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 Ad Ventures In The Gloom

Whoops we diddle and take ‘em down

Fiddle the riddle and kindle the middle

Bash the rash and fake the cash

All for the sake of a sale O

Beguile the smile and sell off the Nile

Export the nought to feed the rort

Flog the log till we’re all agog

All for the sake of a sale O

Enchant the egg to fall off the wall

Invent a rent for the incident

Conjure the wise to standardise

All for the sake of a sale O

Walk like a noodle to feed the fake

Peddle a medal to market the rash

Rat the fink so the price will sink

All for the sake of a sale O

Hoodwink the horde but smile the while

Hoax the folks and delude the fool

Inveigle the bagel to feed the greed

All for the sake of a sale O

Outwit the weather and say it’s fine

Pull a fast one on the last one

Cock-a-doodle let us canoodle

All for the sake of a sale O

17 October 2017

images

Attribution: Source Creative Commons; precise origin unknown.

a150_a4

Attribution: Source Creative Commons. Link: https://unclestinky.wordpress.com/category/pop-culture-stench/page/2/ Date: 17/8/2017

After the break, more cricket.

R.

Memories of a Second Class Cricketer

A Good Innings

II 

One of the most captivating aspects of the Victorian age was its tendency to confuse issues which ought not to have any logical connection at all. Among these the concept of the Gentleman loomed like a cloud over the landscape, permeating every backwater of social intercourse, tilting the balance of debate.

Benny Green A History of  Cricket  Barrie and Jenkins, London, 1988, p. 125.

The theme of this second part of my cricket tales is overwhelmingly ‘my gentlemen.’ It had nothing to do with class or with a capital ‘g.’ The only social status they had was to be in the same place as I was for a serious cricket match. Many of them are no longer alive yet I feel so fortunate they are still with me in my mind.

My performance for Combined Country in February 1957 led to my selection in the Petersham-Marrickville First Grade Team. Our home ground was Petersham Oval. I love that ground.

It was our school home ground for Fort Street and we won the Sydney High Schools competition in 1949. Our opening bowler at the time was Alan Wyatt who went on to open the bowling for New South Wales. I gained selection in the Combined Sydney High Schools team as an opening batsman. I had not taken up wicket keeping at this stage.

Here is our Petersham Marrickville team in 1957 as revealed by an ancient press clipping. These people are some of my ‘gentlemen’ but as you can see, the newspaper decided to give them capital letters.

Petersham

Clive Johnstone was at times captain of New South Wales. Noel Hughes had recently returned from a stint with English cricket. His sons, young at this time, were to grow into a distinguished cricket and football family.

Johnny Martin was yet to be the noted Test player. He was incredibly hard to “read” as a bowler for the wicket keeper that I was. We had an agreement that he would nod for a wrong ’un. Alas his mind and his body were not always in harmony so I would often get the wrong message. Poor batsmen though! He would trick them constantly too. But then I had to stop the ball to prevent four byes.

Johnny Martin was a lovely human being. A man of massive talent with bat and ball. As a first slip player he often stopped byes from a ball I missed. He was a true friend, humble and supportive. I had got to know his two brothers too in earlier days.

Vince was an opening bat for Stockton in the Newcastle competition I later played in. I rode in a taxi, when I was teaching in Maitland, driven by Johnny’s brother Tom. He said to me, “Keep an eye out for that young fellow (brother John). He’ll play for Australia some day.” He was right.

Johnny is also famed for his big hitting on Melbourne Cricket Ground. With ordinary bats too, not the supercharged 20/20 ones of the present.

Kevin Cantwell was a slow medium for whom I stood up to the stumps and got a stumping in one match match against Gordon. He was a brilliant field and a leading baseball player. I remember Brian Taber as the Gordon ‘keeper in that match, before his Test fame had arrived.

Pat Crawford had just returned from bowling for Australia at Lords . He was quick. I had met him in the National Service strangely enough. He represented New Holdsworthy’s troops while I was the wicket keeper-batsman for Old Holdsworthy. Keith Herron, a First Grade wicket-keeper for Drummoyne and a very diminutive person, had to deal with Pat’s bowling on a mat. I remember one of the deliveries almost going for six byes – or more accurately these days six wides.

Pat was kind to me and supportive, a rather overwhelmed country lad that I was. The other three team members were very good bowlers. Bruce Livingstone was the opening bowler for New South Wales, along with Pat Crawford.

Ken White was a skilful off spin bowler. Television came to Australia in 1956. The ABC was televising Grade cricket matches in 1957. In our match at Bankstown Oval, Alan McGilvray and Michael Charlton were busy describing our all-day performances. Ken was bowling to new batsman Grahame Thomas. He moved out to a yorker, missed, the ball hit my ankles and I missed the stumping. Thomas went on to get fifty, play for Australia and have an oval at Bankstown named after him. So as I see it everything happens for the best.

Ron Briggs for Bankstoen had been batting all day before Thomas came in, and finished with 187. Alan McGilvray was very sympathetic for the stressed out keeper with hours in the field who missed that one of so many balls. Had I made that stumping perhaps there would be an oval named after me instead of Grahame. (Only joking,) Just a few mistakes sent me to Second grade and thence back to a lifetime of teaching not cricket.

Combined Country 

Here is an ancient and  just surviving record of the Country innings on the first day of that match: February 13, 1957.

Petersham.pdf 2

My happiest memories are linked with the human qualities of the players, the gentlemen. First, the chance to talk for an hour after the match with Brian Booth, a captain of Australia, was a delight. A man of great status, he was so humble and so easy to talk to. His words were a fine complement to the artistry of his batting I observed on the field. His opening partner Warren Saunders was also a sheer delight to share time with.

Here is the Sydney innings. It clearly shows the cricket powers of those two players in particular.

Country Inns 1

It was an interesting experience too to be treated by the Cricket Association as representative players. Accommodation in the now extinct Hotel Sydney was very comfortable. Hire car transport to and from the SCG was relaxing for the players. Cricket boots left in the dressing room over night were cleaned with bright whiteness next morning. A small player wage we got to cover costs was quite an honour and a new experience.

Sam Trimble broke a finger facing Gordon Rorke. He was taken away for medical treatment and resumed his innings later. That was the starting moment perhaps of an illustrious career with Queensland and later Australia.

The haloed SCG itself was another joy. That “visitors” dressing room had served many players of distinction. A haloed place to be,

My other Sydney opponents in that match of long ago are still remembered.

Ken Muller I had met in my school days. He was a Fort Street student as I was. Peter Philpott was twelfth man for the 1949 Combined High Schools team I played in. He was a thoughtful bowler who turned the ball quite sharply and deserved more wickets. He was also a stylish batsman. I was destined to play against Grahame Thomas later in the year, as I have discussed elsewhere.

My Second Experience of Sydney Grade  

In the 1957/58 Sydney season I played four matches in First Grade and two in Second Grade. I batted only twice in the four First Grade matches for 20 not out against Gordon, and 49 not out against Waverley. I was not called on to bat against Western Suburbs and Bankstown. In Second Grade I scored 71 against Paddington at Rushcutters Bay and 20 against Glebe-South Sydney at North Sydney Oval. So my batting average was rather good.

After the demotion I felt a stronger calling from the profession I loved — teaching. I decided to leave the city, if the Department of Education so decreed, and rejoin the permanent teaching ranks. I was appointed far from the city cricket scene to a one-teacher school at Chichester via Dungog in the Hunter valley.

At Chichester I was unable to get weekend accommodation so I had to stay with my parents at Ferodale, four miles north of Raymond Terrace.

Thus, with the help of Fate, I was able to return to cricket at Stockton in the Newcastle competition. This in many ways was the beginning of another cricket adventure. The next part of my narrative will focus on this.

To end this chapter, these links might interest you:

(My special thanks to the wonderful Marrickville cricket researchers.)

Marrickville Cricket Club, in my time joined with Petersham, has a long and proud history commencing in 1910.

Notes From The Net and My Memory

As you know, I played with Johnny Martin and Pat Crawford. I admired from outside the fence Barnes , Alley and Moroney. Alley became a test umpire in England and in his very first Test with the very first ball he had to give a decision. It was out, caught behind and he was right. Andrews was before my time.

I saw Jack Moroney when I was an admiring kid, hit a six right over the rail arches in a Grade match at my Glebe home ground, Jubilee Oval. He was a solid Test opener but he could be aggressive too. Two ducks in a match were an inaccurate cause of demotion in that seven Test match career. He was a high school maths teacher by profession.

Marrickville CC’s players include Johnny Martin, Pat Crawford, Sid Barnes, Bill Alley, Jack Moroney and Tommy TJ Andrews  It has been home to Australian Captain Bob Simpson and three of Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’ – Ernie Toshack, Bill Brown and Ron Saggers. I remember the grace of Ron Saggers when he played for New South Wales. To clash in time with Test star Don Tallon from Queensland was bad luck for Saggers.

Here is a link to the Marrickville site:

http://www.marrickville.nsw.cricket.com.au/content.aspx?file=4224%7C23309m&print=1

Leg bye now,

R

Memories of a Second Class Cricketer

A Good Innings

I

Because cricket was for many years my chief escape from what are sometimes  laughingly called serious affairs, I promised myself I would never write about it. This is the seventh book I promised never to write.

Benny Green A History of  Cricket  Barrie and Jenkins, London, 1988.

For my agnostic father Alex, cricket was a religion. Perhaps it was an obsession.

Whatever it was, he bowled countless leg breaks or wrong’uns to my brother Vic and me in our backyards or on holidays wherever we went. That was probably the reason I hit Australian leg-spinner Peter Philpott for four leg-side boundaries on the Sydney Cricket Ground for Combined Country against Sydney in 1957. I don’t wish to imply I was ever a first-class cricketer, so that makes those boundaries an even greater achievement for my Dad.

During our annual visits to Berrara, a camping place of long ago (in the Forties) south of Nowra, off Fisherman’s Rock Road, we took a big spade and made a turf wicket for the “Test” matches that went on through the school holidays. There were plenty of players from the tents around us.

Mum and Dad were parents of the Great Depression and I was born in the alleged winding down year, 1933. Dad made me a billy-cart for Santa one Christmas, and added a cricket bat he also fashioned himself. Lots of cricket bats followed though, real ones, with compound cricket balls (cork not leather)  to play with as times changed for the better.

I remember buying a Stuart Surridge bat from Mick Simmons’ sports store:  George Street, corner with Campbell Street. Simmons made his money first from tobacco and then branched into sporting goods. Creams and shirts were bought there too. I loved going into that shop. Mick also would employ famous sportsmen to serve there, another big attraction for me and many others. Sport was not a corporate business then so the “stars” of the time were probably often glad of that job.

As I write, other sporting stores of my era come to mind. I bought my first wicket-keeping gloves from Bert Oldfield’s store, 243 Pitt Street Sydney. He taught me where to stand behind the stumps, advice I kept for the rest of my wicket-keeping days. A funny anomaly in those first cricket days was the sticky stuff we used to put on wicket-keeping gloves. Now I realise that if you didn’t concentrate, didn’t watch the ball and thus moved too late and snatched, the glue was a waste of time and money.

Yes times did move on as I’ve implied. In that past, you oiled your bat with linseed oil  – quite a test of your loving care. I think I remember rolling it with a broom handle and bouncing cricket balls on the surface to harden it. How different things are now – iron clad surfaces already on some of the bats you buy!

I remember too Stan McCabe’s store. He was a very quiet man who always served you courteously and humbly.  I bought in particular practice cricket balls from him. I was very sad to hear of his untimely death when it happened long ago now. His deeds against bodyline don’t die.

My introduction to Sydney Grade cricket came from Glebe South Sydney. This was because we moved to Newtown. I have learnt that the administrators of the grade competition decided, I think around 1910, that you had to live in the area of the club you played for. That aimed to strengthen the competition and draw crowds. So because I lived in Newtown, off I went to Jubilee Oval Glebe via the Glebe Point tram.

Albert (Tibby) Cotter, Warren Bardsley, Charles Kelleway and Bertie Oldfield all played for Glebe. Cotter, Bardsley and Kelleway also went to Forest Lodge Primary where Bardsley Senior was headmaster for many years, having taught one time in Warren, New South Wales. Oldfield was secretary of the Glebe Club in 1915.

Tibby Cotter was actually killed, in his life’s prime,  at the Battle of Beersheba in October 1917. He chose to join the cavalry charge although not strictly required to do so. As I write, the centenary of that event is being celebrated with full military honours. We can actually join the celebration of this and other fatal events for a deposit of $500 AU and then further payments. Death and destruction have strange bedfellows these days.

We young Glebe players were cared for paternally by a small group of senior players. I remember especially Jim Bowden, the First Grade keeper and later a Sheffield Shield umpire. A lucky friend for me. There was practice at the nets and there were practice matches mixing the grades on the main oval.

It was a great inspiration for us lower grade players to practice with the seniors. Ron Kissell, a state player, was there. He played eleven first class matches for New South Wales between 1946 and 1952. Bobby Madden was also there, an opening batsman briefly for New South Wales and a soccer player for Australia. I remember when he was dismissed for 99 for the state. 

One of the umpires in those practice matches was George Borwick, an umpire in the Bodyline series. Mrs Borwick made and served, with other ladies, afternoon tea for us. That was the kind of community we had then and will always need.

Mr Borwick was an influence on me. I remember a durable piece of advice: “If you think you are not out, look in the scorebook.” That has stabilised me many times since.

I was chosen in the club’s Green Shield (under 15) team as a leg spinner. I remember in a match at Waitara Oval that the fence was far to close for my bowling..

I made it into Fourth Grade as a batsman however, and so began a beautiful friendship. Then a wicket-keeper was needed so I volunteered. The friendship blossomed. Jim Bowden was a great help to me down a few years.

Those years passed and I worked my way up into Second Grade. Never to First Grade with that club.

Then came the family move to Ferodale, four miles north of Raymond Terrace on the Pacific Highway. In his usual way, Dad fostered my cricket interests as well as all the others. In conversation with Doug Rawlings, the manager of a shoe-store in Raymond Terrace, Dad found a link with Northern Districts Cricket Club in Maitland.

Another beautiful friendship began there, both with Doug and family and with cricket. Maitland has a special place in my life. I met my wife there much later. The cricket too is a lasting memory.

I remember Doug Rawlings, a memorable man who drove me up from Raymond Terrace each Saturday, and often rolled the wicket before a match. Col Johnstone, a State second eleven player, was our captain and my mentor. Our opening bowler’s name was indeed Mudd. The other opener was Keith Smith – a source of inspiration too as he had lost an arm in a factory accident. He batted quite well and bowled very well. He got a hat-trick against a visiting Sydney team (Western Suburbs). There, with those true friends, I studied the game further.

Inter-district cricket was one of the joys of that time. I met Doug Walters then, a while before his fame. He was a Dungog lad. I noticed the strength of his forearms.

The inter-district cricket led to selection in the Combined Country team of 1957.

Combined Country Selection

It all happened because I had resigned from teaching for a year to play cricket. First came the selection trial match at Tamworth. I survived that. On next to another match in Armidale. I survived that. Finally on to Grafton Oval. No mistakes there either, and I remember taking a diving catch out near square leg. That may have helped me gain selection in the final team.

At this time of writing I interpose a momentary reflection on Robert Holland. “Dutchy” has just passed away. Fate has been kind to me as I had the honour of playing Golden Oldies cricket with him in Vancouver and in Queensland.

A most inspiring person. Kind, humble and gifted in sport. I was present at the Sydney Cricket Ground when he took ten wickets against the West Indies when they were at the height of their power. I lost my voice for a week or so from cheering. I remember his Lords achievement of many wickets too.

Another kindness of fate was my sitting next to him in an Air New Zealand plane en route to Vancouver for twenty-odd hours. There was so much to share on that lucky journey. He told me of his talk with Bill O’Reilly when he Robert was chosen for Australia. O’Reilly told him the bowler was captain when the bowler bowled.

When he went to England, Robert saw fit to talk to the great English leg break bowler Douglas VP Wright, whom I saw dismiss Don Bradman with a lifting “leggie”  at the SCG just after the war. Wright apparently took eleven hat-tricks in his cricket lifetime. The advice from the Englishman, who by the way had a long run up and spread his arms like wings just before his last stride of the delivery, was to bowl the third ball of the hat-trick fast and on the stumps.

“Dutchie” was a gentle man; he was humble and not intent on winning above all else. I am so lucky to have known him and he gave me a stumping in one of his Golden Oldies overs. I am sad he has gone but memory eases the pain a little.

Now back to my narrative… (I will go on writing from here soon.)

Au revoir to the reader,

Royce

Gateway

My Time With Gateway

This is a little story about a university group. It is a tale of adversity, determination and, in many cases, ultimate triumph. The students who joined that group had experienced life the hard way. Some had been floored by drugs, there were several divorcees with children, one candidate had MS and used to talk to me each week about how his friends were getting weaker and sometimes dying; I have a beautiful painted shell given to me by one of several indigenous members of the group, and there was a blind student who typed her answers deliberately without using brail.

Gateway was a program, funded by the Federal Labor government in 1989, at the University of Wollongong. It was a spin off from the similarly funded “New Start” program, which my colleagues and I ran at UWS, two years before, with promising success.

This so-called equity scheme was a one-semester course for non-matriculated students to give them a chance to enter university. There was an English component, a mathematics component, and introductions to various aspects of university life, such as the library and the student union.

I am not a mathematician so my information on that is zero, except to say that the staff member was a revered member of the Mathematics Teachers’ Association, had both feet on the ground, and was a highly experienced university teacher.

As for English, we taught them that when you speak, you write on air, but when you write for formal occasions such as essays or examinations, it stays there for everyone to see and judge. We focused on the university essay and ways to make it good. We discussed especially the power of the sentence as a package of meaning; faulty package: damaged meaning.

We explained that every essay, whether it is an assignment or an exam question, ALWAYS has two components: the topic words, which tell you what to write about, and the directives, that tell you how to write about it. So, for Compare and contrast Sydney and Melbourne as modern cities, the topic words are Sydney and Melbourne, and the directive is compare and contrast as modern cities. To succeed here, you must talk about both cities; you must both compare and contrast them and not merely describe them; you must also discuss them as modern cities, not (necessarily) as football teams.

There is another essential. To do well you must have worked hard and know a lot about the two cities. The point though was that a fountain of knowledge sabotaged by irrelevance or incompleteness leads to at least disappointment, if not failure. Naturally spelling, grammar, style and narrative structure were among the outcomes of the weekly marking and post mortem discussions.

Can you decrypt this code I filled their first essays with: KTTQ?

It was Keep To The Question. Failure here still is a common weakness.

Candidates were given a 250-word essay to write each week. It was marked and returned to them in the next lesson a week away. There was always a post mortem session on strengths and weaknesses before the next lesson started. Words in excess of 250 were penalised. Too many, and the essay was marked but with a zero score. They were all informed of Blaise Pascal et al.’s famous words: “I am sorry I have not time to write you a short letter; I have to write you a long one.”

We worked through some of the commonest university tasks: description, analysis by resolution of controversy, analysis through definition or clarification, analysis through interpretation, the writing of technical reports and individual creative responses. We learnt the best way: with quick feedback from our mistakes. Everyone had to give a speech before the class group (a terrifying task for some) and we nurtured each other through that and every other ordeal. It was good for me as the teacher too. To teach is to learn something twice. Notice I prefer the word “teach” to “lecture.”

Now I want to talk about a few people I remember specially. No names, as we have such respect for each other, and they seem to be sitting beside me now, although it is part of two decades ago.

In one of the night classes, a man and a woman were sitting at the back of the room. I said to the class, “I might bring my ‘thesises’ next week to show you.” Within about two minutes, both of them were standing up waving their dictionaries at me. “You should have said “theses.”

I was a student of Professor Wilkes, at Sydney University. He had spent much of his life getting rid of Latin and Greek endings in English. I brought them my Collins Dictionary, which Professor Wilkes edited, and there was my version too. But I agreed with them that their version was easier to say.

The male student is a lawyer now. During his Law studies, he became World Champion Client Interviewer. It was a very big contest, run for law students around the world. He won the final in Scotland. The woman who waved the dictionary was an expectant mother. The baby joined us about a week after the Gateway course finished, and I had the delight of giving a present to a beautiful baby girl. Her mother was a brilliant student, went on to an honours degree and a position at the university.

On another occasion, I was spoken to on the telephone by the daughter of a potential student, who was seeking admission to the program for her mother. It turned out that both the mother and father were involved in a bus disaster some time previously in Queensland. Both were unconscious for a long time and both eventually survived. Recovering, they returned to Wollongong and were getting on with their usual life when the father dropped dead at the family home. The daughters wanted a remedy for the empty sadness.

We admitted the mother to the course. I could hear the screams of joy from her daughters in the background when I rang to tell them. That student walked with the aid of a walking stick. I remember her delightful, meticulous, small handwriting, and her willingness to discard her former ways and try something new. One of the first things I had said to each beginning class was “Warning! Warning! This course is dangerous to your preconceptions.”

The vision I remember most, however, of that particular brave person is her long walk to the stage on Graduation night, without her walking stick, in a beautiful, sparkling, black dress that contrasted with her neatly arranged, white hair. She entered university and studied with one of her daughters.

On another memorable occasion we had a call from the Secretary of the Steelers Rugby League Club, seeking a place for one of his young players. I was impressed by the caring attitude of that League official and his concern for the player’s welfare. The young man was qualified to enter the course, so in he came. He did the course, but was a star second-rower in First Grade for many seasons, with no time for university. Perhaps he could have used his entry qualifications later in life.

I remember too, a brave and diligent divorced mother with children who was badly treated by a recalcitrant ex-spouse. She dreamed of becoming a family lawyer. She became one.

We had a very popular leader of a musical group, suddenly dreaming of becoming an academic. Through Gateway, he gained university entry and an Honours degree in Creative Arts. He went on to his PhD thesis. Alas! When he passed away two years ago, I lost a true friend.

I am not sure I can explain the success of this group. In the six years I taught in the program, I could feel a sense of their bonding, their support for each other in a common cause. It is something that is hard for teachers to create, and even harder to define.

The Gateway group was the most successful of any identifiable undergraduate group in the University. Changes came, with lack of funding from the Federal Government, but I was gone then and the struggle belonged to somebody else. Sadly that gateway is now closed.

I still have a message from one of the women in the very first Gateway class, on a card given to me on my retirement from the University. It says, “Royce I will never forget you.” She had won the University Medal for Psychology.

Somehow, when I think of all my failures, of all the things I wish I had done better, people like these tap me on the shoulder and say, “Never mind; you did your best.”

So here I am in the wasteland of advanced maturity. Can you imagine how I feel, with my background, when I see the barriers to university study placed on students today. Wherever I go – OfficeWorks, Woolworths and Coles checkouts and elsewhere – I wish young people good luck with their studies and with their HECS payment. Almost always they smile back and thank me.

I have three degrees, each taking six years of part-time study. Because of the whims of time I have not paid one cent of HECS.  In fact the Department of Education of New South Wales actually paid for my first degree’s university tuition.  Such a golden age that was. Somebody then understood that the thousands of pupils in my 50 years of teaching would all fill workplaces and pay taxes. Lord what fools these present day political mortals be!

And what bigger fools vote for them!

Afterthought

If you have failed in one of those diabolical, terminal, one-off qualifying tests and still want to go to university, don’t give up. Go for it as a provisionally matriculated student. You’ll have experience on your side. R.

Nostalgia

Good morning

Illness and life-struggle have kept me away from this place for a while. I am glad to be back. It seems sometimes almost a duty to keep on sharing.

When you are old, above the average life span, it is hard not to think of the past. Old friends who seemed eternal pieces of the establishment are no longer with you. They keep tapping you on the shoulder and softly saying, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot?”

There is “Abba” for instance, an old mate from the distant past to the almost present.  A fellow teacher he was, like me destined for New South Wales classrooms. A shearer’s son whose courage, determination and acquired wisdom made him eventually the principal of a big Sydney high school. We shared “National Service” (Conscription) too, in 1951. The light of his laughter in later times still lingers. We claimed to have prevented a bigger war at the time. No conflict would have been feasible with soldiers of our ineptitude.

There is Nanny too, my Grandfather, who enlisted in the Eighth Division at the age of 60 (declared age 45) and was captured by the Japanese at Singapore. He taught me to count in Japanese when he came back, weighing six stone seven, in 1945, after helping to build the infamous Burma Railway.

And George, a recent demise. Another teaching colleague. I need advice of his no- nonsense kind, and I long for his companionship today. A life-member teacher unionist and primary school principal, George still reaches out to me with an awareness of so many things I could have done better in my early life.

So there they are – old friends. Let them be for now. Let them rest with Don Bradman and Pete Seeger and Humphrey Bogart and Richie Benaud and all the others. They’ll be back whenever a thought demands it.

Other memories are here now. Age gives you a big data base of recollections. In the Thirties and Forties you were a child of the British Empire. In cinemas you stood up before the feature film, for the national anthem. It was “God Save The King” until February 1952. In those young days you loved the  “cracker night” of every Empire Day. Catherine wheels and double-bungers and throw-downs and rockets and the big bonfire made childhood gloriously exciting. You learnt in Fifth and Sixth Class (primary school) that all the red countries in your atlas were part of the “Empire on which the sun never sets.” Nothing to do with communism.

Memories now of that BIG war. From 1939 to 1945 Russians were “goodies.” You liked them and you hated Hitler and Tojo, drawing spiteful pictures of the “baddies,” sometimes on your desk. During that war life was threatening. Even though you were merely a child, the memories remain strong.

The gun flashes out to sea off Cronulla were like sheet lightning. The city of Sydney seemed to have lost all its lights. Cars had funny metal things over their headlights with just a small slit for the light to come out. Some had big boxes on their roofs burning stuff as substitute for petrol. Food and clothing were rationed, as was petrol. During a film at a “picture show” you were asked to buy War Bonds to help beat the enemy. You were also warned that the enemy was listening behind walls so you mustn’t speak about war secrets. Chewing gum disappeared in those war years. It must have been reserved for soldiers and other war personnel.

All the railway stations had their names taken down. There were steel piles on the beaches to stop invasion forces. Fighter pilots were heroes and you could see them training overhead.

I knew their names as later I knew sporting names: “Paddy” Finucane, “Bluey Truscott, Clive “Killer” Caldwell … I loved watching the Hurricanes skimming the waters of Yowie Bay and the rest of Port Hacking. As a non-war excitement, I was also enchanted by the Tiger Moths that stalled and spun far up in the sky over the Port Hacking/Sutherland area where my first home was. Those non-war pilots were adventurers too. You don’t see arial games any more like those ones. The sky is needed by the commercial aircraft companies, the air force and the police. No one flies under the Harbour Bridge now either.

Back to the war. The searchlights practising at night and piercing the World War II sky are also unforgettable recollections. Anti-aircraft practice was noisy, but no enemy ever bombed lucky Sydney. Perhaps that is one reason we participated willingly in later wars.

I remember too, aeroplanes towing practice targets a considerable distance behind them on a long lead. The pilots of the planes doing the towing now seem to me very brave in their fearless disregard of the possibility of friendly fire disaster.

My parents’ newspapers provided other entertainment for us “kids”. There were “Bluey and Curley” exploits of mischievous soldiers, “Boofhead” tales of the funny idiot, “Ginger Megs” who was one of us, “Saltbush Bill” on Eric Jolliffe’s farm, my hero Buck Rogers who foretold the future, “Dick Tracy,” Brick Bradford and “Prince Valiant”. Then there was The Phantom or Ghost Who Walks, who left the imprint of a skull on your jaw when he knocked you out. You could buy the skull ring for your own pretended belligerence. Best friend of all for me was Mandrake the Magician, who gestured hypnotically in Mum’s Women’s Weekly that came out every month.

The modern wonder of the cyber world might give you a chance to share my remembered comic fun here.

Cinema serials were full of excitement too. “The Green Hornet,” and  “Roy Rogers”  have never left my memory.

There was no television in my childhood. The radio was king. I used to sit up close to the set to listen to “The Search For The Golden Boomerang.” Tuckonie the youthful indigenous adventurer was my hero. I loved the introductory music too. I think it was “The Dance of the Flutes” from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”. Fancy a tale of a hero such as Tuckonie in the era of the White Australia Policy! There were other heroes too: First Light Fraser, Biggles (who still makes me sizzle sausages), Hop Harrigan, Superman, Tarzan, The Shadow, The Lone Ranger. “Hagen’s Circus” is also an exciting memory.

As with the “Golden Boomerang” music, the “Dad and Dave” theme is also strong in my memory. It was “Along The Road to Gundagai,” music and Lyrics by Jack O’Hagan. It was played between scenes at different speeds according to the excitement pitch of the moment. It also introduced and ended each episode.

Laughter was easy to get from the radio too. Rex Dawe’s “ Yes What” is forever funny. “Dad and Dave” with Dad’s “starve the lizards Mabel” and Dan Agar’s “Mrs ‘Obbs” still bring me pleasure and I still hear Lou Vernon’s whistling of “Annie Laurie” (I think) as he introduces his serial episodes with, “Hello. Aye it’s me, Doctor Mac.” Mum listened frequently to “Portia Faces Life,” “Martin’s Corner,” “Big Sister” and “When A Girl Marries.” Radio drama has been accurately called “Theatre of the Mind.”

Well there you are. Your past stays a part of you in spite of the intrusions, the retroactive inhibitions psychologists refer to. I could ramble on further about radio because it was embedded so firmly in my childhood mind.

If you would like to learn more about those experiences, you might enjoy a visit to here.

As I said before, the past seems to rear up at you when you get old. I hope my words suggest that it is not always an enemy. “Nostalgia” seems to sum up the situation pretty well: Greek nostos – return home; algos – pain. But what’s in a word? Meaning as well as beauty is often in the eye of the beholder.

Time is so valuable these days. I don’t mean the money-grabbing television time. I mean the real stuff. I’ll end by going back again, just a little way.

joan tree poem

Until next time, soon I hope,

Royce

On Teaching and “Productivity”

Some Recent Thoughts

One click  on “TEACHING” below will give you access to the thoughts, and to a poem I wrote soon after I retired in 2004 from a teaching post in a Sydney high school.

TEACHING

Regarding that poem, education ministers and administrators should remember that the students below the test mean are half our future.

***

There are some challenges for teachers with that failing group of students that objective attainments tests do nothing for. The test psychosis in the minds of political administrators just now is courting disaster. I am not saying we don’t need tests. Test teach retest reteach has got to be part of every teacher’s program. What I am against is the tyranny of haloed attainments tests over everything else.
All my best wishes to the teachers of today. I am compassionate and proud that I understand ( to a large extent) what huge sacrifices you make and what difficulties you face.
         Royce

What Does the Finkel Review Really Do For Us ?

Is science actually jeopardised by commercial restraints?

Let us look closely at realities. What do we expect a scientist to do? All expectations are deeply rooted in our culture.

The Latin word “scientia” is our beginning.  Its meaning: “knowledge based on demonstrable and reproducible data.” Vital words these: “demonstrable,” “reproducible” and “data.” Their connotations are crucial. Their implication is that science must use, to check validity, methods that are open for all to see. Science too, needs reliability so that its methods can be repeated with confidence to check outcomes. Above all, its findings must spring unquestionably from the data base obtained by the research.

Observe the work conditions of Australia’s Chief Scientist. Note well the requirements and constraints of the position.

The Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) is part of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. Its primary responsibilities are to enable growth and productivity for globally competitive industries. To help realise this vision, the Department has four key objectives: supporting science and commercialisation, growing business investment and improving business capability, streamlining regulation and building a high performance organisation. Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_the_Chief_Scientist_(Australia)                          Date Accessed: June 25, 2017

Now this poli-speak is worrying me.

I’ll try to give you some of the reasons. It’s all a matter of truth and its link with science.

When my own words seem inadequate, I often seek help from greater minds than mine. Perhaps these lines from R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Capek will help me explain what I mean.

Robots throughout the world, we command you to kill all mankind. Spare no men. Spare no women. Save factories, railways, machinery, mines, and raw materials. Destroy the rest. Then return to work. Work must not be stopped.

There is a little help too from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre .

Unless I have the courage to use the language of Truth in preference to the jargon of Conventionality, I ought to remain silent.

Those quotations might help you understand why I am having trouble working out the priorities of my present world, especially regarding the Finkel Review.

What has greater importance, business or human survival?

Are the two always related? There lies my problem. My doubt.

How do I feel about this? Here I can turn to Gustav Flaubert:

L’avenir nous tourmente; le passé nous retient;  c’est pour ca que le present nous échappe.

The future torments us;  the past imprisons us;  in this way we flee from the present.

 My big worry is the focus of OCS.  Is my planet in danger or isn’t it?

Is global warming really a threat to us now; to you, to me, to our children and our children’s children? In other words are all those scientists reported in reliable journals wrong? If the weather is going to kill me, I am not so interested in the rising cost of my electricity or the job potential of a proposed massive coal mine.

I really am worried about the weather. And I am not alone.

Just now the clocks seem to be striking thirteen. We trust scientists, with their weather reports, to keep our planes flying safely. We put our bodies willingly in the care of scientists when doctors save our own or our loved ones’ lives. We plant or harvest our crops with scientists’ guidance. And we prepare for flood, fire or tempest under the constant watch of scientists. So why O why have recent years been contaminated by a sudden, whimsical doubt concerning 97 percent of world scientists regarding climate change?

Are vested interests exerting pressure and distorting reality for profit ahead of our wellbeing? Where do you buy “clean” coal? Is it for sale with left handed hammers and tins of striped paint?

Some Other Vital Questions Regarding OCS

  1. Should growing business investment be the motive for scientific research ahead of universal human problems such as illness, pain, suffering or death?
  2. Should growth and productivity control evaluation of scientific data ahead of benefits to lessen human suffering?
  3. Are “streamlining regulation” and “high performance organisation” better scientific objectives than needs based validity and reliability?

Now Here Are Some Other Causes Of Concern

  • I cannot understand why, after the recent review, Australia will still be among world leaders in per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate change inertia, and trading in coal, gas, iron ore, uranium and methanogenically-derived meat. Is commercial gain or sustainability unduly influencing this science? Why do Dr Alan Finkel and team confirm gas and coal use for 50 years?  Eventually 2067 will see GREAT BIG NEW TAXES to repair the damage, will it not?  

I x Y = RC x D

(Inertia x Years = Repair Cost x Disasters)

  •  The Finkel Review sees coal-fired generators as being part of our lives until 2050. But we need to get to average zero emissions by then if we are to keep up with the Paris Agreement.
  • The media clearly neglect Australia’s renewable energy successes already achieved. Australia is now a leader in per capita solar installation for homes. South Australia has 40% renewable energy, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) approaches 100% renewable energy and water stocked Tasmania also aims for 100 % renewable energy. Look around you at the individual solar fittings on the rooftops of ordinary people.
  • A vast storm involving several cyclones massively damaged South Australia’s energy system in September 2016. The ensuing blackout was falsely blamed by the federal government on failure of renewable energy sources. Despite the organised lies, the South Australian Government stayed relatively calm and rapidly moved to ensure back-up power with batteries and (alas) promised a new gas-fired power plant.
  • Finkel’s Review favours gas as a reducer of emissions. My information is that natural gas is grubby energy containing 85% methane that has a global warming potential 105 times greater than CO2 over twenty years combined with the expected impacts from aerosol.
  • To know is to be responsible! This was Mordechai Vanunu’s stated reason, a long time ago now, for whistleblowing about Israel’s atomic weaponry. It makes me sad to think that distinguished scientists, when reporting on the state of things in our world, would not focus in detail and with great energy on the dangers of air pollution as well as global warming. The  World Health Organization tells us that seven million people die each year from air pollution. World production of coal was 7, 823 million tonnes in 2013 of which 336 million tonnes  were Australian coal exports.  The use of this  coal  for energy or metallurgy is linked to about half of the 3.5 million outdoor pollution-related deaths annually.

Now the next bullet reveals a disturbing link from the web. I share it here for you to assess. The source is:  Dr Gideon Polya  of countercurrents .org

  • 10 billion people may die this century in worsening climate genocide. Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia Hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson ( Deputy Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have estimated that only about 0.5 billion people may survive this century because of unaddressed, man-made global warming. If we note that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, we will see these estimates translate to a climate genocide involving deaths of 10 billion people this century, this including roughly twice the present population of particular mainly non-European groups, specifically 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis. DARA has estimated that presently 0.4 million people die annually from climate change  but this may be a considerable underestimate because presently 17 million people die avoidably from deprivation in the developing world (not counting China) that is already impacted by climate change . 

A Final Question

Shouldn’t the line between certainty and doubt concerning a people’s wellbeing be something more than the bottom line of a stock market report?

Further to this matter of words

How can we do justice to the importance of words?

We speak. We listen. We write. We read. In all my teaching years I have tried to tell my students that with these deeds we can change the world.

There was a Chinese saying I often shared with those students:

I hear what you say but I see what you do.

Now this leads me towards one human category of power, politics. Politicians’ words and actions have had a vast influence on my life down the years into my eighth decade. They have inspired me, disgusted me, helped me, hurt me, led me to war, brought me brief peace, dismissed me and often flowed from kneeling figures begging for my vote.

Now have you noticed how frequently honourable members use the expression “the bottom line”? It’s an expression taken from profit and loss accounting and I believe it came into first real use c. 1967. I was alive then but, as with so many other things, it was not part of my detailed understanding. But oh my! Do I notice it now?

So many things are “monetised,” to use the YouTube category. Money is the route of all weasels. Education is not vital. The real problem is can we afford it? Same for health, including research. As for climate. Well. Old King Coal was a merry old sole (sic).

And all those weasel words are of extreme importance if you are into shady deals. We now know, for example, the terminology used by the gods of the Watergate affair. Some interesting examples: “correct endeavour,” “correctly impede,” “correct motive,” “political containment.” Each of these we can now recognise in the context of Watergate as a euphemism disguising culpable behaviour.

Another discovery from that time is the presidential coaching of accused staff for survival in the courtroom. These were some of those words: “I don’t remember;” “I can’t recall;” “do not volunteer anything;” “deal only with established facts.”

Two other expressions come into mind as well: “classified” and “business confidentiality.” I have seen “classified” countless times in my lifetime. One example will do. Information on the Phoenix Program was classified during the Vietnam War. We now know that this secretive scheme was responsible for the massacre of at least 20,000 Vietnamese civilians during that war.

What of business confidentiality? I have no real evidence here. Therefore it would be wrong of me to make unsubstantiated claims. But I feel justified in making the following comment. In the light of human misdemeanours documented throughout history, is it not reasonable to ask for something more than a label “business confidentiality” when  misbehaviour could be possible?

I feel pretty sure that some of my readers will know more clearly what I mean and even have access to tangible evidence to set the truth free . . . Ah me! Despite my advanced maturity, my glass is still half full. I just wish proof would be easier to find. Life would be far better if we could trust the powerful.

To end this little sharing of ideas,  I strongly urge you to follow this link. It has helped me better understand the bright and dark side of words. You may find it interesting.

R.

Words are crucial; so study and protect them.

Words.

Loaded pistols said Sartre. Powerful drugs said Kipling.

Yes, the true meanings of words seem to vary in these recent times.  So-called “truth” constantly needs further investigation. This little piece of fiction plays around with that idea.

Dr Yorec VeilPhoto on 22-09-2016 at 7.45 AM

Doctor Veil is a former citizen of Elysium, in the Land Of Two Rivers. Born in hard times within a country where university study was mostly no more than a poverty stricken dream, he broke free of pauperdom by winning scholarships. His rise in Academia was rapid and distinguished, leading him to several teaching posts and awards.

Sadly his former university was destroyed in the Iraq invasion of 2003. Fortunately for mankind he survived and is now a distinguished staff member at Hope University in Brazil. His works and philosophy are now part of a broad canvas.

His most recent missives follow.

***

Snake Oil Sales 1Snake Oil Sales 2Snake Oil Sales 3Snake Oil Sales 4.jpg

Now Some Non-fiction From Me

Recommended Source: Don Watson weaselwords.com.au.

Weasel words are the words of the powerful, the treacherous and the unfaithful, spies, assassins and thieves. . . To speak the words the powerful speak is to obey them, or at least to give up all outward signs of freedom. Don Watson (205 p.1)

I want to share with you some weasel examples. Maybe it will help to explain my contempt.

Once, when applying for a job teaching English to migrants, I asked a CEO if there was a predominant approach to the teaching of essay writing. I needed to know if genre writing was used as well as or instead of traditional methods.

The reply was very brief: world’s best practice. Now what did that answer do for me, a professional seeking to do his job well? Did it mean: “I want to test you not me so I will tell you nothing” ? Did it mean: “I am ignorant actually, so I will use this high sounding language of emptiness to cover my tracks”? Or was that CEO simply under the influence  of Edward Bernays, trying to control me with  Bernaysian manufactured consent ?

You decide. As for me, I did not get that job and went to teach in a university where it was a little harder to cover up the truth. Not always impossible though.

When leaders fire weasel words at us we have a problem. Don Watson sums up weasel power pretty well regarding President Bush, The Younger, and Prime Minister Howard.

Our two leaders have sucked the meaning out of the words . . . They are shells of words: words from which life has gone, facsimiles, frauds, corpses. (loc.cit.)

These shells of words bring power to such rulers. The effect of this power on war and peace is disastrous and on our society catastrophic.

Look what such people have done to the proverbs I learnt as a child. Weasel words below for sale: half price.

Look before you cut and run.

He who hesitates is decruited.

All that glitters is not an accounting irregularity.

A miss is as good as change management.

Fortune favours critical success factors.

Manners maketh the self actualiser.

While there’s life there’s a mission statement.

Actions speak louder than the chattering classes.

Call a spade an action plan.

Give credit where credit is clear evidence.

A picture is worth a thousand absolutely collaborative events.

A change is as good as a capability gap.

A friend in need is a circle of strength.

A pot calling the kettle non-core.

Every dog has its global bulge bracket pedigree.

Two heads are better than a Client Infrastructure Representative (CIR).

What the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t disconnect.

Silence is bulletproof.

What you eat today walks and buys-in tomorrow.

As you sow, so shall you drill down.

And pop goes the weasel.

 

Principal Reference: Watson, Don. 2005. Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words. Sydney. Random House.

 

 

Tears In A Desert

Down the ages children have endured pain and suffering for many reasons. Today, as a consequence of bungling and crude reasons for detention, covered up abuse, poverty in postcodes, and heinously accurate weapons of mass destruction used deliberately with sham excuses against thousands in civilian populations, the trauma and anguish of children tears us even further apart.

This brief post is only a little cry against the anguish inflicted. Butterflies wings in a tempest probably.  But the tiny fluttering may start a small breeze. Nothing never happens.

R.

 

Suffer little children to come unto me … Matthew 13:16