More Recent Thoughts

Obituary To A Friend

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, 

than alone in the light.”

Helen Keller

He’s gone now, my friend

Recently deceased

But how he dominates my memory

He understood my whims

And was willing

To heed my complaints about existence

Without too much fuss

Just a gentle comrade in arms

Willing to go the whole way with support

Whenever it was needed

When my wife left me

We strolled together down the streets of loneliness

Each glad of the other

In shared and loyal communion

His glance was enough as i spoke of my agony

No words were needed between us

He was a good listener

Never interrupting

Just quietly understanding and acknowledging my pain

With a wistful smile of compassion in his eyes

I remember one day extremely well

I was indeed distraught

It had been a hard day at the school where I taught

My class had misbehaved more than usual

And the Principal had commented on my lack of discipline

That afternoon when we met

I shared my extreme misery with my friend

He analysed me truly as he always did

Understanding flowing from his demeanour

Then he wagged his tail

As we walked together again to ease the pain

My dog Rex and I

Freedom Of Speech

The global warming alarmists 

are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers.

Ted Cruz, Senator

Washington Post (March 24, 2015)

Freedom of speech is a precious right

You’ll not take it from me without a fight

Therefore I declare that our world is flat

It’s the sun round the earth now fancy that

And if you sail too far out to sea, 

You’ll come to a chasm and be history

Witches all ride their broomsticks well

Black cats are secret agents of Hell

Horse shoes bring good luck it’s true

But a broken mirror’s bad luck for you

Six six six is a devil’s mix

While thirteen is up to its usual tricks

Buildings are safe with no thirteenth floor

While a four-leaf clover is luck galore

Touch wood to guard your cherished life

Fortune cookies will save you from strife

Spilling salt is an evil sign

Break a leg and things will be fine

Bananas bring bad luck to a ship

Whistling will create a storm on your trip

Mermaids are highly dangerous to nab

Kiss the Blarney for the gift of the gab

Water spilt will bring success

Omens prophesy more or less

Sneeze and the devil will score a goal

“Bless you” then will save your soul

The Curse of the Pharaohs is well known

So leave their precious mummies alone

A ladder is dangerous to walk beneath

Foretelling of the cards will catch a thief

O the gift of nonsense is mine forsooth

Thus will I hide inconvenient truth


Love is a whisper from a heavenly breath

Love is the conquest of life over death

Love is the spell that turns harm into charm

When loneliness screams it sounds the alarm

It gently conquers life’s frequent distress 

And eases the pain that leaps out of duress

Passion is a fashion that leads you astray

Love is the sense of a far better way

Love is a giving as a sacred duty

Love makes the mundane wistful beauty

There is no meaning to a world without love

It will lift mercy from below to above

Solitary wanderers will find a true home

When love finds a reason for them not to roam

Love is a refuge when justice cowers

Love is a shelter when angst stirs your hours

Love is a pathway when all hope is lost

There is peace in its outcome at no earthly cost

Time does not hinder love’s final effect

It is a tower forever erect

So climb as you will and encompass the joy

Love is a rampart no one can destroy

Love is a magic that defies the ages

Love of all kinds belongs on these pages

So lovers learn this, when your love arises

And an amorous bond a new life devises

Seize boldly the chance you have found to love

And you’ll grasp the secret of heaven above


How wondrously you seem to fly

Like an eagle defying the sky

Barely touching the inanimate floor

Entranced I watch you and long for more

Your mobile figure entrances me

You the dancer I have paid to see

You court me completely with utter devotion

As you slide and glide with magic motion

Cutting the air with a knife not there

Enchanting with dancing, invoking my stare

You defy the norm of the human race

Performing before us with limitless grace

Contorting, transporting, supporting

Yourself in a race that conquers space

You are a puppet sans strings

Bending, extending like a bird without wings

Dancing to an everywhere, romancing, prancing

Twisting, resisting, insisting, enhancing

So far from the norm with your wondrous form

You banish my fear of the mortal storm

Bewitched I am on a flight of fancy

Carried away by your necromancy

As you change the prosaic world I know

With your mystic, enchanted afterglow

Hail fair dancer, queen of life’s portal

Dancing in ways that seem immortal

While here am I with spirits high

Watching your movements with an ancient eye

For I am old, battered and worn

I walk with a stick in a life forlorn

Yet because of you I am complete

And I dance in my mind in this theatre seat 

In Praise Of Science

Science is the friend of tomorrow

Confronting life’s human sorrow

It is not vain or marred by disdain

And will listen if you complain

Reality is its normality

Questioning finality

With an open mind forsooth

Forever seeking the truth

Once long ago when questioning began

There was little science known to man

Then time passing played a different tune

To let some scientists walk on the moon

What is the secret you may ask

What is the shape of a scientific task?

There is but one place where the answer rests

You must base all your wisdom on reputable tests

Observe, reserve, conserve, deserve

Have an open mind and keep your nerve

Submit your findings to colleagues’ view

That is the rigour that applies to you

A pox on the work of the ignorant herd

For whom the truth is an ugly word

Who see reason as too much trouble

And base their views on froth and bubble

Who decry and deny the truth in vain

And follow their mindless paths of pain

Theirs is a land where the greatest treason

Is to base your views on research and reason

So begone dull fools and get thee to a gunnery

Shoot yourselves in the foot and be treated in a nunnery

The Writer

To A Real Person

Your pen is mightier than the sword

How beautifully you share each word!

Your world becomes mine now at least in part

I can almost hear the beating of your heart

My life is now a part of yours

Each phrase you write will open doors

To my troubled, inconsequential mind

That journeys on a quest to find

The full meaning of what you say

Your images and thoughts are magic at play

Bewitching me your reader with a longing

To understand each word belonging

To a world I cannot enter save through your script

A place that I am only just equipped

To visit by the surprising grace of your mind

The mystery is, once there, the things I find

Transport me to another plane of wonder

Where all my schemes are torn asunder

And suddenly I find myself

Like a book of wisdom found on a scholar’s shelf

I begin to understand and most important of all

You teach me the truth without which I fall

Into the prison of despair

But with your writing I am never there

For your words have led me to the higher ground

Where the angels of logic all abound

You give me peace in your inimitable way

So write on dear friend and I will read my ignorance away

To free myself; what more is left for me to say?


Recent Thoughts

We Shall Overcome Some Day

Deep in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome some day

Guy Carawan 1960

O the ruling élite are strong

With power that seems insurmountable

They thrive on what is wrong

Pretending to be accountable

Corporate bankers and lawyers

Profit from organised strife

They are simply sawyers

Who cut up the timber of life

Then the media work their spin

Flaunting erroneous truth

Making dissent a sin

And from honour standing aloof

Yet the empire of gain is ending

With victims now fighting back

Now we poor folk are contending

Human virtue is on the right track

Deep in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome some day

The goddess of law will achieve

What the history books clearly say

So speak up champions of virtue

Let your voices ring out loud and clear

The neocons now cannot touch you

You are angels who fly without fear

Those false towers soon will crumble

The liars will all fade away

Propagandists exposed will but mumble

As the pillars of greed decay

Danger Is A Stranger

Danger is a stranger when people do what is right

But enemies come in handy when neolibs choose to fight

War is but a consequence of profit at fever pitch

Lots of weapons needed to make their makers rich

But first you must have an enemy so invent some evil deeds

Praise the worth of conflict as what your country needs

Warfare is an industry beloved from pole to pole

American exceptionalism plays a leading role

Media barons stir the pot with unworthy causes

Telling lies with every breath as well as in the pauses

If young men die think only this of them

They are remembrance flowers cut off at the stem

And what of little children blasted to kingdom come?

Or burials of old folks to the sound of a martial drum?

Not to worry says the Press to a fake ovation

Spreading the word that’s quite absurd it’s the glory of our nation

So the conflicts continue with each carefully chosen foe

Death can take no holiday with war mongers on the go

Tainting the earth with their loud belligerent feet

With never a moment’s thought about defeat

Yet surprise can take effect at last

Leaving the hawks surprisingly aghast

For there’s an event to end the vile tirade:

It’s a sudden recognition of international trade!

Why O why should you slaughter that babe in the woods

When he alive with his family is a market for your goods

Let the songs of war give way to friendly rendition

That bans the guns in favour of free competition

Peace brothers it’s so wonderful you may say

As the reasons for war conveniently fade away

There is a logic in the dealings of foreign affairs

If weapons are replaced by peaceful wares

The Last Rose Of Another Summer

My mother planted that rose garden

It bloomed in another summer

She’s gone now

And the bed is filled with weeds

And other intrusive plants

Making their bid for dominance over intended beauty

It’s like a jungle of impertinence now

That garden

Unruly and seemingly proud of its chaos

Of its unfettered fertility

A plot once beautiful

But now transfigured by unintended growth

Yet one rose plant is still there

Proudly surviving the competition around it

And blooming

Yes still blooming

Undaunted by the power of the irrelevance nearby

Just one

The last rose of another summer

I picked it yesterday

For I knew she would be pleased

To have its perfume defy the untidiness of my house

It’s there now

Amidst the clutter

And I can smell its perfume

It helps me remember a spirit

That made me what I am

And somehow

Has me resolve to tidy that garden

As a gesture to a love that does not die

In spite of everything

One Kind Thought

I’m taking pills for depression

A last resort

They do their best

Despite the overwhelming task

Of keeping me on the straight and narrow

But somehow they just don’t go far enough


I am enveloped in the Slough of Despond

And I desperately try to move beyond

The despair of my own pathetic inability

To solve my problems

I search for other solutions and keep falling short

Until as a last resort

I write a poem about my sadness

That’s when the trouble starts

Approaching madness

As words have a habit of running away

With your equanimity

It’s all a matter of meaning

How to say what you really intend to say

No nonsense

No half truths that will lead you and others astray

Truth is such a rare part of modern life

And somehow despite my writing struggles

Plus all my thinking

I still find my spirits sinking

Sinking sinking sinking

Until something mind changing happens

I decide to tell Joan that I love her

And her smile

Miraculously completes the task of my pills

Last Train To Toronto

I caught the last train to Toronto several years ago

Discontinued service

The railway tracks are still there

Overgrown with weeds

A branch or two from dead trees lying across them

I don’t visit old uncle Snow any more

He’s even older than I am

Which makes him pretty ancient

He’s in a wheel chair too

So he doesn’t get out

I miss those talks about old times we had

Not possible any more

I have no car and I can’t walk ten miles 

With my withered leg

There were never many people on those trains

I think that’s why they stopped the service

The greatest good for the greatest number

Seems to be the way things work

In the political world these days

Wipes us odd individuals out

Pathetic minorities like Uncle Snow and me

Don’t carry much weight anymore 

So there you have it

A lonely life for the old fellow

And for me

I write him a letter every few weeks or so

And send him a Christmas card

That’s the way it is

Days pass

A television set for company

A radio in the morning at breakfast

And so the days go by without the trains

Charlatan Unnamed



Distorter of reality

Cunning snake in Eden’s grass

Schemer dedicated to nothing but political gain

Champion of malevolence

Alter ego of murderers

Self appointed defender of evil deeds

Disguised as virtue

Architect of a house of lies

Cohabited by greedy obedient fawning fools

Passionate lover of yourself

Courting cronies

To support your infinity of deadly deeds

Insane darling of the inane

Voice of ineptitude

Mindless leader posing as bright

Last hope of villains

Who gather around you as agents of your intrigue

You blandly court them with your own fringe morality

As you loudly proclaim false triumph

Within your insidious framework of self interest

You are

A cunning fox amidst a tragedy of crows

Dark angels they are, wooed ingenuously by your false prophesy

You are their patron of political pretence

How loudly you praise your own fake manoeuvring

Like a seller of wares in a tainted marketplace

Who’ll  buy

Your pie in the sky?

There is no end to your fallacious schemes

Your voice is loud proclaiming a false integrity

Yet, distorted into confusion like static electricity in a storm

It fails to communicate to the wise

You are such a well-known star with illicit fame

I find no reason here to write your name


The Poems Keep Coming


Dear sharer of meanings

Who brings effigies of sound into the silence

Endured by others

There is love in your energy

Gentle caring for the deprived

Your face is a mirror of everything

A link to understanding for the cloistered

Strangers who hear nothing

There is passion in your compassion

Such willingness to reach out

Such drive in your movements

As if you truly know the needs

Of your special audience

Understanding is a golden gift

What is life without shared meaning?

You give answers to such questions

And there is triumph in your mastery

So there you are

Unnoticed by the busy majority

Just a part of the furniture

Serviceable, functioning, trusted

To be of service

Yet there is something more:

The tenderness of your movements

The wonder of your signing

Make the world a better place

For everyone

I’m Headed For The Last Roundup

Well here I am on the edge of my own antiquity

People give me a seat on the train these days

I am in that category of need

Kind souls raise their voices too, and slow their speech

To deal with the flaws my age predicts…

On a pension too

No place for me in the workforce now

I was once a teacher

Had an active place in many lives

Learning with others

To participate in life with some decorum

Discovered the hard way what not to do

And felt needed from time to time…

Life now is so different

There’s not much comfort on the shelf

You are dusted off so frequently

And company is so scarce

As you pay the price for living so long

But why is it so?

Why am I now no use to anybody?

After all, I pioneered the use of TV and the net

Heard FDR respond to the Great Depression

Saw lots of spies come in from the cold

Observed Neil Armstrong make one giant leap for mankind

Watched the Berlin Wall come down

So much more I could share with you dear friend

And with the generalised others if they cared enough to listen

Not much luck with an audience so far

But not to worry

Time is a good tutor

More people will learn the truth as their own lives grow longer

And we all have the same destination don’t we?

There are lots of cattle at the last roundup

As I head there I think I have what I need: a final plan that empowers:

Don’t hurry, don’t worry and don’t forget to water the flowers

Yippee Yai-oh, Yippee Yai-ay,

That’s about all that’s left for me to say

The Man Who Doesn’t Exist

As I was going to Strawberry Fair

I met a man who wasn’t there

He was but a thought in the bright sunlight

Yet I knew something wasn’t quite right

When a voice loudly spoke to me

A whisper on my shoulder advised me to flee

But I stayed, although I was anxious and weak

Then in a daze I heard something speak

It said it had built a wondrous wall

And the cost would be not a penny at all

So I looked around me in my daze

Confused by what such a voice portrays

And then I heard it again

“I am the most powerful of men.”

I thought I should bow but didn’t know how

I still don’t know how even now

Then the voice pierced the air again

I knew not how but when

“I cure a disease that is not there,

“I have followers everywhere,

“I’m the richest man on earth.”

These words for me had an eerie mysterious worth

How strange it was on this sunny day

To hear such powerful words at play

With not a person in sight

I curled up my toes in fright

Then came a tirade that blew me away

It made me afraid; what more can I say?

It said an election was all but a fraud

And threatened to put all cheats to the sword

And bury them in a garden

Without a pardon

How I trembled with each fearsome word

Even though the meanings were quite absurd

I paused and raised my hand to shield my eyes

In the bright light I was struck by the same surprise

I looked so keenly and my eyes roamed everywhere

But still not a soul appeared; there was no one there

Time passes to restore the happiness of life

Memories fade and end all pain and strife

Now here’s a thought years later I cannot resist

I no longer fear the man who doesn’t exist

Where Have All The Tall Trees Gone?

Where have all the tall trees gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the tall trees gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the tall trees gone?

Gone as lumber every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where has all the lumber gone?

Long time passing

Where has all the lumber gone?

Long time ago

Where has all the lumber gone?

Dealers took it all away

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn? 

Where have all the dealers gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the dealers gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the dealers gone?

Into boardrooms every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the members gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the members gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the members gone?

Into parliament every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the statesmen gone?

Long time passing

Where have all the statesmen gone?

Long time ago

Where have all the statesmen gone?

To plant trees in deserts every one

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Weather Obituary

Dearly beloved

We are gathered here together

To mourn the demise of the weather

Yes there is a sense of loss

Derived from pain inflicted across

The days and nights of our time

Yet memory is a defender that relives the sublime

We remember when the wind was a gentle friend

Not a tyrant of force that brought lives to an end

We all recall still the gentle rain

That helped our pastures grow again

Not the recent agony that troubled flesh and blood

Derived from tempest and destructive flood

Coming to mind as well is the gentle cycle of life

Found through sun and rain without the strife

Of drought and the dreaded curse of fire

That tears apart ambition and desire

So here we are remembering

Conscious of the dismembering 

Power of global warming

Dear friends of the earth

Let us come together united

To save a world benighted

By the follies of our fellow man

That careless indifference abroad since time began

We can change even as we mourn the loss of worldly beauty

Coming together with a sense of noble duty

To comfort nature with a loving embrace

And cool the world for the sake of the human race

I Don’t Know

I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling

I don’t know what hatches the plot

To destroy the fair air’s charm

I don’t know what causes the rot

And does the earth so much harm

I don’t know why there is dirt in the sky

Pollution to foul the air

I don’t know why man’s deeds go awry

With folly that leads to despair

I don’t know when the world will awaken

And stop making such a mess

I don’t know when they will all be forsaken

Those fools whose names you can guess

I don’t know how in the stark here and now

We can stop the world being tainted

I don’t know how the sacred cow

Is so blindly contaminated

I don’t know where the answer lies

To this universal disaster

I don’t know where I will find clean skies

It’s a problem no mortal can master

I don’t know who the culprit is

The source of this hullabaloo 

I don’t know who’s the destructive whiz

But I hope it isn’t you


Memories Shared

I read recently a speech I gave at the University of Wollongong twenty-five years ago. I have decided to reproduce it here as there still seems some relevance to present day existence.

Gateway was an equity program funded by the federal Labor government designed to give mature aged students another chance to enter university. It was concerned with literacy, mathematics and university life. Here then is the speech.

A Speech Given At The University Of Wollongong

26 June 1995


It is hard to think of a happier task for me than the one I am about to perform. In a few moments, with feelings of genuine honour, I shall present the Gateway prize for outstanding achievement.

For that prize I have chosen a book of words. Guildenstern says:

“Words, words. They’re all we have to go on.” *

Jean Paul Sartre called words loaded pistols. Rudyard Kipling saw them as “the most potent drugs used by mankind.”

And then there was Humpty Dumpty in the Alice Through The Looking Glass of Lewis Carroll.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, which is to be master – that’s all.”

I have been struggling with words all my life. It is such a hard task to win well or even survive. You need to work at it. Perfection with words is an elusive dream.

We all err and fall short again and again – like the Bangkok dry cleaner reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of January 10, 1992 who wrote:

“Drop your trousers here for best results”

or the Hong Kong dentist who advertised:

“Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists”

or Tony Greig who once said:

“Border’s shout of ‘No’ was quick and positive” and

“It’s been a night of misses as far as direct hits are concerned”

or Norman May many years ago, who noted on air that

“It was a dead heat between Azeem and the ball with the ball just winning”

or an early New South Wales Legal Studies Syllabus directive which said:

“All students must study this optional topic”

or Vice-president Dan Quayle who claimed to be

“…ready for any unseen event that may or may not occur”

or the unknown examination candidate who thought that

“Socrates died of an overdose of wedlock,”

Words can be among the most empowering of things. They can be surprising as well as potent. For example I can report that ergasiophobia is extremely rare in Gateway students. Ergasiophobia means “fear of work” or in some quarters “bureaucrat’s curse.” See what I mean? Similarly, I can say from experience that kopophobia is also rare in Gateway.** You probably know that it means “fear of exhaustion” or “students’ curse.”

And there is the question of politically correct language. Some politicians object to this constriction. Examples include not “manhole” but “sewer access hole,” not “maiden over” but “scoreless over,” not “abominable snowman” but “abominable snow creature,” not “dwarf” but “vertically challenged person,” not “bald” but “follicly challenged,” and not “accidental hospital deaths due to treatment” but “preventable adverse events.”

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s enough on my reasons for choosing a dictionary for this prize.

Before I ask the winner to come forward to receive the prize and because this is the eleventh Gateway graduation I have seen, I feel I have to say just a few more things that seem to me important. I have shared or am still sharing the learning journey with many Gateway students. I have seen the struggle and the suffering and the joy from very close range. Therefore my first message is obvious.

Congratulations to all Gateway graduands and where relevant the families and other supporters who have helped you to be here for this moment. It is not easy to reach this point. You have to dare to be wrong and learn to profit from your mistakes as well as from your triumphs. You have to be patient and dogged. Don’t ever forget that to meet the requirements of the Gateway program is an achievement in itself.

I want you to be really sure that you belong to a very special group of people – well over five hundred determined characters who have come forward to receive their graduation certificates at these ceremonies. And now the University graduates are coming through. The average performance of all former Gateway students at the University is just below the cut off for credit level. There are so many I could mention as pillars for your inspiration.


For example, **** ***********, from the 1989 Gateway Program, graduated in 1994 with First Class Honours in Education. From the same year’s group, ***** ******* gained Second Class Honours in Psychology and three to four weeks ago, ******* **** received her BSc with First Class Honours and the University Medal in Psychology.

I must mention too the 1990 graduates **** ****** First Class Honours in Sociology, the former President of the SRC, ***** **** Second Class Honours in Creative Arts, and *** ********** Second Class Honours in Education.

My space for names is limited. There are however a few other role models for you to think about. Recently I heard of a winner of an overseas scholarship. Then too we have among our graduates the winner in Glasgow in 1993 of the World Championship for Law Students in Client Interviewing. Other Gateway students are at present undertaking postgraduate studies and there is a very healthy number of pass graduates. Ours is the most successful identifiable undergraduate group in the University.

I think with great affection of the many people I have come to know who have changed their lives (and mine) by discovering reasons to believe in themselves. I congratulate you, as you become the new Gateway graduates, on reaching this end of your beginning.

Those of you who do enter the University should remember that on the first day of the next part of the journey, you will not be ranked – but will all be starting from the same position. Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote something that has helped me:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

I wish you all much joy in the adventures ahead. Finally I mention the words of another wise commentator on life, Alexander Pope:

“Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.”

I therefore have absolute delight in inviting ****** ***** to come forward to receive the

Prize For Outstanding Achievement In The Gateway Program.

End Notes:

*Tom Stoppard Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Act 1, p.30

** For similar fascinating words see Peter Bowler’s The Superior Person’s Little Book Of Words and The Superior Person’s Second Little Book Of Words.


Still More Auguries

The Climate Monkey

The climate monkey was a willing flunkey

Born and bred in the jungle

He lost his home and was forced to roam

Because of a human bungle

They cut down all the trees you see

Turned his birthplace into a hovel

Left him no choice in the end but to flee

To civilisation and grovel

He found himself at the big end of town

Where he caused quite a stir

He bought a few stocks that were not on the rocks

And became an entrepreneur

O how things changed as his life rearranged

Vast earnings caused some commotion

He fouled the air dug up the ground

And even polluted the ocean

The money came in and made him grin

As he tallied his wealth with hilarity 

He felt guilty at times over global warming

So he gave a few funds to charity

As the years passed his status rose fast

With the money flowing in

But science decreed with invincible force

That nature in the end will win

So the storms came to wreck the world

And wildfire scorched many lands

Droughts set in and the oceans rose

Many thousands wrung their hands

The end was swift as the stock market crashed

And the globe plunged into depression

The jungle dweller still posed as rich

But this was a false impression

In fact he lost status through the climate hiatus

And no longer appeared in Who’s Who

You can find him now if you wish to observe him

In a cage at the London Zoo

The Lost Garden

It was a lovely quiet place

With shadowy comfort of peace

Discourse with birds was a daily thing

Conversations that never cease

Ferns and trees made a sanctuary there

As a refuge from the sun

Which filtered through the leaves in a friendly way

Until each day was done

In that haven I came to life

Sheltered from my strife torn days

I found time to think where the flowers grew

Found a reason to sing life’s praise

It’s gone from me now that garden

Torn apart by violent hands

Turned into the harsh emptiness

That so called progress demands

They tore it down at the will of the planners

In the quest for an empty space

Fear of trees is a common thing

A scourge of the human race

Each day is a eulogy for me now

That garden I sadly miss

Nowhere to go when life deals a blow

No choice but to reminisce

That I will do in my dying days

As I gently think of past glory

I am weak with no power to change this world

But at least I can tell my story 

The Distinguished Liar

He was a pro always on the go

Lies flowed from his lips as palaver

There was no match for his lying tongue

From Timbuktu to Java

He made his pile using lots of guile

Telling many a falsehood that waxes

While the money rolled in, as a cardinal sin

He never paid any taxes

His white lies weren’t little in fact they would whittle

The barriers to undeserved wealth

He surprised his rivals with sudden arrivals

And then shared a cut of their pelf

One thing above all with tales that are tall

You need fools who are willing to believe ‘em

This was no problem as he found lots of ways

To mislead and cheat and deceive ‘em

Now he didn’t stop till he rose to the top

As a master of deception

His political friends swept away by ill trends

Gave him wide-eyed reception

Thus if you walked by seeking to pry

And said, “Take me to your leader.”

You would meet our liar with spirits afire

Perched in a tower of cedar

It is there he might say in his usual way

That election was riddled with fraud

Whereupon you’ll retort if you are not a fool,

“You deserve an Academy Award.”

But the liar rules on at the top of his world

Noted for an absence of proof

Wise ones will finally cast him aside

Such is the power of truth

A Last Hurrah

Once upon a time in Brobdingnag

An election was dutifully held

To give a winner a leader’s tag

‘Twas a time for all to meld

A contest between one opponent who was always right

And another who slept very well every single night

The contestants greatly differed from each other

One was a show-off – a virtual rooster’s brother,

Dim-witted, loud-mouthed, with an epithet caper

Writing silly sayings on little bits of paper

The other was a placid chicken who very quietly spoke

Only when spoken to and smiled at every joke

Election day soon came along: a busy time in the land

With electors voting to the sound of a big brass band

There were greater voting numbers than were known before

The rooster’s fans were fanatically loyal to the very core

They danced the while a loyal jig to honour their flamboyant Nero

The chicken on the other hand was definitely no hero

These two aggressive rivals fought to the very last letter

The aim of the dire struggle was to decide the better

The question at hand was to find a functioning booster

Who would come first, the chicken or the rooster?

When voting was done and counting begun

Tension infected the people as one

At first count the rooster was far ahead of his rival

But slowly the chicken’s score ensured his survival

At last a victor was declared and the chicken rejoiced at his feat

But what of the mind of the rooster? How did he take defeat?

“Election fraud! Election fraud! Election fraud!” he cried, “I am still the winner.”

“The one who now claims victory is in fact a sinner.”

“Justice has been miscarried; I should be still on top.”

“Millions of votes have been counted that don’t have a bloody full stop.”

So a riot took place and then six recounts of votes – aha!

The chicken triumphed, the winner, at the rooster’s last hurrah


Terror in the night lightning alight

Winds tearing down the trees

Dog in the garden shaking in fright

Rescuer down on his knees

Saving a man under falling arches

Taking his fading breath

Who can tell where destiny marches?

Will the next blast cause my death?

As the politician unperturbed on the whole

Holds up a lump of coal


Terror in the day cyclone at play

Ocean wild with rage

Beaches completely washed away

Twelve people drowned at this stage

Buildings collapse around me

The noise molests my ears

Destruction is an anguish for all to see

Nothing will quell my fears

As the politician unperturbed on the whole

Holds up a lump of coal


Terror in the morning wildfire burning

The forest a holocaust

Trees afire anguish returning

Plans to flee enforced

Koalas dying in the flames

Other creatures meet their doom

Houses become mere insurance claims

Funeral flowers in full bloom

As the politician unperturbed on the whole

Holds up a lump of coal


More Auguries

Castle of Deception

Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer Yet Again

You are a sinister architect 

Building with your paranoid hands

And your egotistical schemes a fearful castle

Made with the brickwork of your evil dreams

There is a moat which only seems to exist

Fashioned from falsehoods hand over fist

With what seems to be a bridge across it 

That can be raised if truth threatens

It’s watched over by a gate that rises and falls

Made from the steel of the lies one recalls

The castle walls are tall and devilishly dark

Fashioned from promises broken

At their top there are threatening spaces

Whence mystic knights with pallid faces

Fire arrows of pretence as a token of unfettered power

Dungeons infest this dismal keep

Lurking in the gloom of misinformation

Where your enemies dwell

Chained to walls by false prophesy

You can see a mist too curling icy fingers

Around the uncertainty where suspicion lingers

There too is your lectern within this travesty

In a vast hall where darkness never reigns

And your adoring throng gather to hear you speak

Unaware of your treacherous intention

To rule by deceit you dare not mention

Thus you stand on shoulders of demons not giants

And the shadow of your monolith hides the sun


But My Round Of Golf Will Be Played

“I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive.” – George W. Bush


The world is in pain

Many thousands are dying

It makes the people afraid

Death has its sting

As the church bells ring

But my round of golf will be played

Lockdown’s should begin

Rebels complain

Though excuses can’t be made

Now only fools

Will ignore the rules

But my round of golf will be played

Hospitals moan

With wards over full

While the nurses’ tempers are frayed

There is no respite

For doctors at night

But my round of golf will be played 

The weather is foul

With conditions extreme

Climate skeptics feel betrayed

Denial of warming

Is habit forming

But my round of golf will be played 

Wild fires rage

Dwellings burn

Families are crushed and dismayed

Climate change

Hits the stock exchange

But my round of golf will be played

The plebs have no work

In this depression

And lots are underpaid

With income halved

Many are starved

But my round of golf will be played

It’s a tragic time

This deadly age

When courage must be displayed

Too many suffer

Without a buffer

But my round of golf will be played


Poor Souls

Prometheus gives fire to mortals—not to mortals of a certain type

Centre For Hellenic Studies, Harvard University

Poor souls defined and then maligned

Unjustifiably confined

For political reasons

In detention detained for all seasons

Food deliverers desperate ones

Working in the streets on dangerous runs

Slaves for a pittance with safety denied

In the past five weeks four have died

Mother with a child all on her own

Working to pay off her loan

Young one sick on a working day

She takes the day off without pay

Troubled young man with no home

Has no family and forced to roam

Sleeps in a subway underground

Dreams of a place where peace is found

Old man dying and counting his days

Eking out existence in its last phase

His past glory no longer exists

He’s riven by time and no friend assists

Now here’s a thought for these luckless ones

A place in our mind where fair play runs

As we fund the rich at a furious rate

Why not some place for a welfare state?



The President pardoned a man today…

I sing the song of right and wrong

Mine is the power that hides in its tower

Guilt is determined by others

But freedom’s determined by me

Another’s judgement my will smothers

And I will decide on lenience

To protect each friend of convenience

For the law is an ass and truth a morass

That is bought and sold at a sale

Justice must wait in a shrivelled mass

As power and status prevail

So jurisprudence get thee hence

To hell with the laws of the land

I’m the one who sits on no fence

Holding your fate in my hand

The time has come to beat my drum

Each court is a place of laughter

I don’t have to wait for kingdom come

I rule today and hereafter 

I am in charge with an iron hand

Within this earthly domain

I’ll dictate by decree throughout the land

While all of my vassals remain

So bow to me now if you’ve gone astray

And I’ll throw your crimes away


Herd Immunity

A rally was staged today…

Face death all of you

To hell with masks and social distance

I need a crowd to promote my image

And respond with acclaim to my speeches

Fie on science

Away with logic and avoidance of dying

I create a throng to show adoration

And cheers from gullible creatures

Rave on fools

Respond to my lies like golems

I beguile the mob with glib propaganda

And the guile of warlike preachers

Begone dull care

Let me sway the ignorant crowd

I will control the masses

While quietus is one of my features

So ignore the dead

Nothing will come of nothing

That’s how much I care as people perish

Herd immunity is what each day reaches


The Truth About The Weather

O the wind doesn’t always blow, they say

And the sun doesn’t always shine

This is the reason in their cunning way

They condone the life of the mine

Deceit is in fashion with profit high

It’s the myth of the invisible hand

As we sigh in view of a tortured sky

While free markets rule the land

Thus storms will come like a funeral drum

Till destruction shatters our sanity

Fires will burn a death knell to some

With a doleful dirge for humanity

Political lies will come frequently forth

With pretence that something is done

But gales still rage from the south to the north

In a struggle that cannot be won

Politicians give doom an evasive function

Amidst deadly global warming

They commonly speak with overdone unction

Telling lies that are habit forming

So species die and home losers cry

With disaster overtly deplored

Houses in floods float sadly by

And the real truth of drought is ignored

What fools leaders are to go this far

Without bringing all people together

We will soon be singing our last hurrah

If we keep on ignoring the weather


Auguries of Life

Spider On The Wall

Spider spider on the wall

Who lasts longest of us all?

Do you observe me with vision clear?

Can you see me standing near?

You seem untroubled as I watch you

Poised on a crevice like a bold statue

Weaving your threads of micro steel

It is a mystery how you feel

Are you afraid of foes like me?

For I can deny your divinity

Crush your body with a single blow

Kill you with toxin laced with woe

Yet there you are lord of your space

Child of the ages apace with grace

Defiant though your time has come

As I hold your destiny under my thumb

Yes you are doomed by arachnophobia

Whilst I endure life’s xenophobia

Death will be our common fate

Now for you but I must wait

Die then noble creature away begone

While my humdrum life lingers on



Little creature out on a limb

How bravely you meet your fate

Mangled by policies dark and grim

Heard in political debate

Robber barons have revealed stark trends

With greed that is habit forming

Their profit from coal is a world without ends

In denial of global warming

Thus we have fire engulfing trees

Putting to death a community

That is the pain when pity flees

Pursued by herd immunity

Age does not weary nor the years condemn

The approaching end of a species

Plants extinct when you cut off the stem

Cause wars that rage without treaties

So if you die as a child of fate

Or suffer the pain of burning

The cause is a rich man’s thoughtless state

That defies all wisdom and learning

So farewell friend as you meet your end

This is the way things are

Yours is a fate I cannot amend

The door to your death is ajar


Bird In A Cage

Dreams are things the caged bird loses

In a coop confined

Bondage is what no living thing chooses

With love of life undermined

Can you hear the cries of despair

From a creature confined for life?

Wings once free that rode the air

Now nothing but pain is rife

Freedom is a word that is quite absurd

When you’re locked away in a prison

The plea for mercy remains unheard

And a wraith of ruin has arisen

Just one thing more is left to deplore

For the bird on public display

It’s taught to talk with skill what’s more

And we mock the interplay

O where is the joy and what is the cost

Derived from this avian grief?

If I opened the cage what would be lost

In the sufferer’s joyous relief?

This I must do to forever be true

To the peace I would find through giving

Let the bird fly away as Noah’s dove flew

To the only life worth living



Truth is the foe of villains who come knocking on your door

A better angel by your side in both peace and war

Liars abuse reality in a savage way

Turning wisdom into doubt and hope into dismay

Look around you every day; play a watchful role

You’ll find rogues putting their case and planning to control

Words can be the deadly tools of rascals seeking power

They turn headlines into folly at a witching hour

Deceivers can decide your fate with their false allusions

As they wreck your humble life with nothing but delusions

Every day is a danger when truth is decried as fiction

Deceivers can turn absolute falsehoods into benediction

So many myths are claimed to be for the good of the nation

Dissemblers easily stand aloof with righteous indignation

Where then are the villains with their sinister intent?

They are found in every rank from lackey to president

So what must we do for peace of mind that will save our lives?

Why move away from realpolitik so that justice survives

Turn our back on deceivers who still pollute our days

Shout the praise of honesty and see how virtue pays

One dark day a head of state told just one big lie

The consequences of this deed were written in the sky

Thus the world has changed itself with deadly habit forming

Destruction now is everywhere because of global warming

So ride with the brave into wisdom and let the truth be told

Watch the liars freeze to death while you come in from the cold



On Legal Aid

Once I wandered overwhelmed

Along a street to nowhere

I was lost and did not know

What I was bound to find there

I needed aid that was not a tirade

To find a better path

I found a friend who brought to an end

A previous aftermath

Words were the gift given to me

That gave me back a new life

Respite from my own helplessness

Comfort in my strife

So now I walk to a different place

No longer pale and trembling

Prone no more to ignorance

Or other fools dissembling

There is calm in my mind at last

I am no longer afraid

The troubled track that once I walked

Is now a peaceful glade

One more deed remains for me

In my looming last days

To give my thanks to my mentor

With this humble song of praise



I demand my freedom 

To choose not to wear a mask

To hell with social distance

How dare you take me to task! 

Liberty is mine, a legacy

No death count can deny

If you seek my views on that virus

I will refuse to reply

How dare you impose a lockdown on me

In this land of milk and honey

And do away with my free will

It’s a crime that’s far from funny

I insist on my right to stage a rally

Where folk are free to swap air

When fools decry a danger

I know it isn’t there

I refuse to have my life determined

By the whims of a statistician

Your normal curve I don’t deserve

And I do not fear the mortician

So begone dull fool away with you

I refuse to accept your complaint

It is for the good of a nation

That I live without restraint

But wait, what’s that you say?

O why am I ill at ease?

Morose downcast crestfallen with the news

My father has caught that disease?



A Teacher Never Walks Alone

Classroom: North Ryde Primary School Museum

More Teacher’s Memoirs

Sometimes The Top Is A Long Way Away

My transfer from primary to secondary teaching was done through what were called GA classes. The abbreviation stood for General Activity. It referred to a changed curriculum less challenging than the normal secondary one. I came from a country primary school to a Sydney boys’ high school to teach at this level.

On my first day one of the boys said to me: “Gee Sir you must be a dumb teacher coming to teach us.”

This teaching task was seen as at the primary level. No degree was needed, only the primary teaching certificate. The students in this class were seen as below the necessary ability level to cope with secondary studies. Most of them were merely lingering until they reached fifteen, the age for leaving school.

Every classroom is a challenge. You have to get to know your pupils and walk with them down new pathways. I found these boys had little self respect and needed support in a number of ways. A very different class from any of my previous ones.

Practical learning was an important part of that syllabus – social skills, survival skills, craft activities and rudimentary law were all part of my lesson notes. We role played job interviews, emergency behaviour in accidents, safety first in the street, tidiness and waste disposal.

Our spelling lists oozed practicality: danger, poison, wrong way, beware of the dog, emergency, halt, no trespassing, keep out, police. We concentrated on the Dolch Sight Word List, the important list of frequently used words, plus cloze tests to improve reading.

A real challenge with these boys was the need for self respect. The careers advisor was a help. With his support we talked a lot about the future. After I left the school I met one of the boys and he told me he had a job as a panel beater. He was very pleased with himself and he certainly got praise from me.

I felt comfortable with this class. We shared enthusiasms in a supportive climate. I was to have two years at the first school and another year with a GA class at a second high school. I transferred to the English/History staff there after completing my part time degree studies. 

That second class was so different from the first. I did not feel welcome. The climate was hostility from the very first. It took me a long time to develop a degree of harmony. I remember one boy because of his red hair as well as his behaviour. He mocked me to his peers quite often: “He’s trying to teach us what we know already.”

I remember the Apology Form I had printed. Each miscreant signed a statement apologising for a particular behaviour on a particular day. The alternative to signing was a punitive visit to the headmaster, so the signatures were willingly given. 

I am sure the boys thought they were indulging an idiosyncratic fool. But the point was a dossier soon developed with evidence in writing of misbehaviour. This was handy in times of big upheaval when you needed evidence. One of the pupils in that class was later suspended. That was quite a while after I left them. The boys in those two GA classes have stayed in my mind down the years. We learned from each other.

A Teacher Never Walks Alone

Here now I recall some individuals. When you reach old age, society in its present form tends to isolate you. This is partly why you recall friends from the past – in particular for me pupils or students whose lives I was involved in.


Rex was in the first class I ever taught: 4th Class in a Sydney boys primary school, enrolment 44. Rex was thirteen years old in a class whose average age was nine or ten.

He was a big lad, a simple soul who loved to tell stories. He could only scribble when writing in his books, except for one word: parallel. I swear it’s true. That word would appear from time to time amidst the scribble.

Rex was important in that class, some of whom were quite clever. It was his job to fill the ink wells, give out books and other learning material, clean the blackboard and tell stories.

Those stories were unforgettable. There was never any plot. Just a series of sensational events something like this: There was a big truck went boom and a policeman came an aeroplane flew cockadoodloo went the rooster a big shark ate him.

Rex’s stories came to be rewards for good behaviour of the rest of the class. “ Sir can we have one of Rex’s stories?” Rex gloried in sensational events. The more excited he made the class, the happier he was.


Bill was a pupil in the same school. I didn’t teach him, but he was in the cricket and soccer teams I coached. Sixty years later he noticed my name on one of my internet posts and contacted me. We had lunch together a number of times until he died.

That life story became a joy for me. He still had a book I gave him all those years before on how to play soccer. He had become a teacher and had risen through the ranks. He had also become president of the primary schools sporting association and had gone on to play soccer at quite a high level, being a team mate of the distinguished Australian player Johnny Warren in a grand final.

A very special person he was. It was such an honour to be involved in that life.


Carolyn was a single mother when I taught her in Gateway, a university equity program. This one-semester course was designed to give students the skills and awareness to enter university. She enrolled to help her deal with family matters after trouble with finance and a former spouse. Life was very hard for that family. Her dream was to gain the power of being a lawyer to deal with a disastrous family situation. She succeeded and got into law. To the best of my knowledge she is now a practising lawyer.

I taught essay writing in the Gateway program. Teaching such people is an amazing experience. You journey together towards an understanding of life itself. Learning to analyse social problems and responding with valid and reliable essays is one of the great ways of growing. Graduates of that program outperformed all other undergraduate groups at that university.


Peter was another graduate of the Gateway program. He was a musician, leader of a band with a risqué name I’ll not repeat here.

The band was very popular and performed regularly in Sydney and neighbouring areas.

After Gateway, Peter entered university and got an honours degree in Fine Arts. He then continued with PhD studies. He remained a good friend of Gateway, sharing his successful assignments with me, his former teacher, so that I could show other Gateway students how studies continue.

Peter’s death was a great sadness for me. It was a great privilege to be a part of his life.

There is another message I want to leave here. If you are like me and don’t get into university first time but are still keen, look for mature age entry and remember there is real strength in that lifetime experience you have had before your studies begin.


Daryan was a Kurdish boy I taught in Year 12 at a Sydney high school. He wrote me a beautiful poem. It was so good I thought he had only quoted it. No, he assured me it was his work.

It described with sadness his fate. He had lived in four countries including Australia. He said that to that time of writing not one of the countries had felt like home.

I taught him English for the HSC and he passed. A lovely person. I think Iraq was his place of birth. I am so glad he didn’t come to Australia by boat. Then his fate would have been indefinite detention and I might never have met him.


Matija was a Serbian boy in my Year 10 history class at a Sydney high school. I taught them the story of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the Serb Gavrilo Princip to trigger the disaster of World War I.

Matija came to me some time after the lesson with the story that some of his friends were giving him a hard time over the cause of World War I. My story was that there are usually heroes and villains on every side in war. 

Gavrilo, I explained without condoning his deeds, was only a young man who believed he was justified in doing what he did. I explained this happens constantly in war, on both sides. I pointed out that the many deaths of the war, involving so many young men especially, might have been prevented if older men had been wiser.

This Serbian boy was a sensitive person. He was genuinely upset by the situation, He was a lesson for me; the first time I had been forced to consider that history story from the other side (Serbian).

Here I end my discussion of specific people. It is a comfort to think back on these friends. One of the reasons as a teacher you are never alone.


Yesterday Is Not All That Far Away

Having Been Taught Go Forth And Teach

Old age is not a preparation for dying. It is a time when your database of life should be shared. Wisdom doesn’t grow on trees. It comes best after you have tried the alternatives. Made the mistakes that make life such an uncertain thing. And if you are lucky, had the little triumphs that justify your existence.

In other words, we ancients all have a story to tell. The joy is we are still alive to tell it.

So here I sit at my desk. I speak with my hands and this much loved computer. How different things are from fifty years ago and that typewriter with all that liquid paper!

So let us roam through some memories. Share the experience honestly. All systems go.

Suddenly I am back in a school for the blind where once I taught drama. I was a visiting lecturer in education from Nepean College Of Advanced Education who used Friday afternoons for this joyous task. Lower primary first for an hour or so, and then upper primary.

My main emphasis was on dramatic improvisations although I did write some plays which were written up in Braille. The great teacher Dorothy Heathcote used to say that child drama is giving children the chance to stand in other people’s shoes.

We stood in a lot of shoes. Animals’ paws too. I shall never forget a dear Vietnamese refugee child who had no idea what a cat’s purring was. There just weren’t any cats amid the napalm of Vietnam.

I got into a little trouble with the upper primary group. A very knowledgeable boy had this to say to me: “The Pterodactyl did NOT fly, it glided.”

So what did we do with drama to share life with these children? We did improvised role play especially. The younger ones moved as different animals and went through various life situations such as posting letters or crossing the road. The upper primary were interested in dinosaurs especially, hence my problem with the Pterodactyl, so we mimed and improvised prehistoric scenes as well as life situations such as getting help from a policeman.

I was at the time in tune with such figures at Peter Slade and Brian Way, as well as Dorothy Heathcote so the children and I improvised with great joy along the lines these figures suggested. It’s around fifty years ago now so the expanded details are not with me.

An associated joy I have was a student theatre company I founded at Nepean CAE. It was called The Phoenix People and performed in schools with support from teachers. Here are some pictures of them at the school for the blind.

In 1965, the Belgrade Theatre Company of Coventry in England formed the first ever Theatre in Education (TiE) company, dedicated to using theatrical performance and drama workshops to explore issues of cultural, social, political and moral significance as part of a free service to schools and the young people of Coventry. The Belgrade Theatre was built in 1958 as part of the reconstruction of Coventry after World War II.

My company at Nepean sought to follow the same pattern set by the Belgrade group. We sent letters to neighbouring schools seeking subjects to write plays about. We then wrote the plays and performed them in the schools. The actors were all education students (in a BEd program) and the drama they were involved in was clearly linked to their future teaching careers.

Memories of the plays still linger forcibly in my mind. One was about King Arthur and his conquest of a dragon. I remember an infant getting right behind King Arthur. “Come on King,” he cried standing up with genuine support during the fight with the dragon.

Another was about Billy Button, a convict boy who was transported to New South Wales and ultimately killed. The Emperor’s New Clothes is another memory that remains. The performances took place in the 1980s.

Here is a scene from the Billy Button play. Billy was only fourteen. The young woman who played him was so convincing.

We dressed the Emperor in very funny underclothes. He marched through the audience accompanied by Verdi’s Grand March  from Aida. Ludicrously funny. Unforgettable.

A funny thing about memories. You can never tell when they are going skip into your awareness. Just now I am remembering my one-teacher school experience: 19 children K to 10 plus me.

It was a remote school that, in the hills of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales; just a school building, a church and scattered farm houses. No electricity, no water laid on, a pit for the toilet and a narrow, dirt road with lots of bumps and potholes.

Three of the seniors were studying by correspondence and had to attend school until they turned fifteen. I taught reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, music, art, craft, natural science and cricket at lunchtime. We had a garden too that had a lemon tree. Parents looked after that garden in the school holidays. The lemon tree was invaded by gall wasp and I had to cut off the infected stems and burn them.

Those people have stayed in my mind down the years. The farmer’s son who got rid of a snake for us by chasing it with a stick. He was a fine human, a good runner. I gave him a pair of running shoes. There was the head of the parents’ association who was very helpful with some of the inevitable challenges. He was quite an old man, constantly doing what he could to help “the teacher.”

I have come to see, since those formative years of mine, every classroom as a dynamic stage. It is a unique place. An infinitely variable combination of lives. The teacher’s task is to belong to that place. To make it a sanctuary of peace, comfortable efficiency and inspiration.

Those children are still with me. There was a little child with an iodine deficiency who had to be given thyroxine before school started. She was a sweet little doll. There was the teenage daughter of the parents’ committee head. She was so serious and something of a mother figure to the younger ones. The boys were all sons of farmers. With the older girls they did the milking before they came to school. I hope they are all still alive.

I was inspected by a school inspector during my two tears there. A fine mentor he was named John Archer. He died quite young but he is still alive for me. I still heed his advice and am glad to name him. The opening line of his report said: “Mr Levi is a young man of high ideals.” Two years after that visit, at a subsequent inspection, he promoted me to the First Primary Promotions List. 

The replacement of the inspectorial system with show piece CVs and interviews has been a sad loss for education. Where should teachers be judged? In the classroom. That is where the magic of teaching happens, not in a back room committee meeting or on a flamboyant self praising history.

Memories are like naughty children – rather unpredictable. I’m having memories just now of a city class I made a film with. It was about time travel. I wrote this song as the stimulus for the action.

I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago

I was born about ten thousand years ago

And I’ve seen more things than you can ever know

Archimedes in a bath Aristophanes raise a laugh

I was born about ten thousand years ago

I was born about ten thousand years ago

And I’ve seen more things than you can ever know

I saw Hitler’s ugly mo and Mussolini stub his toe

I was born about ten thousand years ago

I was born about ten thousand years ago

And I’ve seen more things than you can ever know

I saw Cook who took a look and Darwin write his book

I was born about ten thousand years ago

I was born about ten thousand years ago

And I’ve seen more things than you can ever know

Though time has passed me by yet I will always try

To see more things than you can ever know

I don’t have a memory of the other verses. We used the song as a prelude and again as a finale.

Now this class of 28 was a class of under achievers from Year 8 and Year 9. As an experienced teacher I was given the task of achieving something with these under achievers. I didn’t teach them calculus. 

But going back through history: wars, revolutions, plagues, volcanic eruptions and discovery of a new world, got them in. We had the Professor, the inventor of the time machine, and an assistant scientist. The rest had the task of creating historic events. We travelled back through time in the film.

That class met in Room 28; the Chips Rafferty Theatre was its name as Chips had once attended that school. We met once a week for two forty-minute periods. Filming had to be spread over two weeks.

In the first week we were back in Ancient Greece when the filming stopped. We planned to film the return journey to the present the following week. Then came a major problem. 

The Professor and time machine operator was expelled from the school. So we had to rewrite the script, having the Professor called back on government secret business and the assistant scientist rescued by a reserve model time machine.

Those children and I were important to each other. We shared a common cause. I have discovered since that one of them now works for the Australian ABC. I remember him so well as he was noticeable in that group. Full of the energy we all felt in that wonderful time lapse place.

I end this part of my memoir with a poem I wrote in April, 2004. It links up with time and how classrooms go on in your mind when you teach there.

Rock and Roll 

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

“As Time Goes By”

Music and words by Herman Hupfeld

I taught my music class Rock and Roll today, 

Gave them the themes from a long time away, 

Felt the beat grab them, shake them and shiver them, 

Saw the words wrap them, post them and deliver them, 

Heard the old ghosts like sirens of the sea 

And recalled when they sang the same songs for me. 

I heard current laughter and present time cheers 

The attention still lingering across the years, 

Bill Haley still rocking across the clock’s face, 

Big Boppa yet fingering Chantilly Lace, 

Buddy Holly still loving his sweet Peggy Sue 

And the Marcels still claiming that the moon is blue. 

I taught my music class Rock and Roll today, 

Gave them the themes from a long time away, 

Felt the beat grab them, shake them and shiver them, 

Saw the words wrap them, post them and deliver them, 

Heard the old ghosts like sirens of the sea 

And learned that such things will last longer than me. 



Even More Miscreants

The Double Dealing Diphthong

The Double Dealing Diphthong would struggle with the truth

It ranted and raved throughout each day

And constantly stood aloof

The problem was the Vowels both long and short

It accused them of dishonesty

And integrity to be bought

So the debate raged as all were engaged

In a squabble where things turned sour

The language was rough with no anger assuaged

They argued hour by hour

The trouble was the way things were said

With A E I O and U

The Diphthong declared good diction was dead

And this caused a hullabaloo

The Vowels fought back with potent attack

And offered a number of tips

The trouble they said was the shape of the back

And the lazy use of the lips

Not so said the the Diphthong against the trend

Extremely sure of itself

There’s a desperate need it duly agreed to carefully mend the blend

But the Vowels demurred and loudly chaffed

Declaring the Diphthong wrong

Then highly amused they raucously laughed

And burst into happy song

Now a point of interest is the change today

There are signs now of a solution

The letters’ betters have something to say

Approaching a revolution

It is like this, if things go amiss,

Whether they’re alive or neuter

You can rescue your thinking from its abyss

Just hand over to a computer


The Over-talkative Robot

Once on a lot there was a robot

Whose workings went badly amiss

Most of its functions were in the right slot

But in one way it was remiss

It started to chatter and just wouldn’t cease

That prattle could be heard coast to coast

With clatter so loud it disturbed the peace

And would shatter the nerves of a ghost

The voice was so loud it seemed very proud

To radiate sound like a stentor

Its words intruded in volume so loud

It became a virtual tormentor

The minds of the owners sought disowners

And they were extremely nervous

The words of the robot were hardly a bonus

With its pleasure to be of service

But on and on and on went that voice

Entrapped in its own repetition

The listeners were stricken without any choice

Prone to robotic rendition

You cannot rule out that the law was broken

There was harm with humans offended

But the breach was clearly merely token

As the crime was not intended

And yet as can happen there was one ray of hope

An idea from a scientist’s spouse

There was one place where no listeners would mope

The West Wing of the White House

So there it stays gabbling through its days

Attracting respectful attention

And only rarely when in public gaze

Does the President get a mention


The World’s Greatest Liar

He was born on a mountain top in Tennessee

The greatest liar you ever did see

Flew to the moon one famous day in June

Wrote the words of anthems and then composed a tune

Defrocked Mussolini down Italy way

And was a secret agent of the CIA

Made his first ten trillion selling shares in oil

Invented the first working model of the hydrofoil

Flew off to China in a solar-driven plane

Then had supper with the President of Spain

Took up acting wherein he was adored

Starred in a hit for an Academy Award

Wrote the first version of Gone With The Wind

Kidnapped Al Capone soon after he had sinned

Had his own series on pay TV

Bought the Mona Lisa on a spending spree

Built the Sydney Harbour Bridge in his spare time

Helped to make the FBI the enemy of crime

Often spends his holidays in Buckingham Palace

Controls a federal agency eliminating malice

He is highly famous solving your privations

And he gives a frequent speech at the United Nations

Nominated twenty times for the Hall of Fame

Many thousand voices still give him wild acclaim

There are countless triumphs for this doer of deeds

When pretence is needed, that is when he leads

But do you know the latest plans that have just occurred?

He will soon be President; on that we have his word


The Man Who Knew Almost Everything

Winston Wise rarely felt surprise

As all things got his attention

There was nothing on earth that escaped his eyes

Or was outside his comprehension

He rejoiced in the stars knew all about cars

And read all the pages of history

Was very well versed in civic faux pas

Nothing to him was a mystery

He would talk for hours about ivory towers

And read all of Shakespeare’s plays 

He made sense of climate from cyclones to showers

And even probed the sun’s rays

In the field of law he knew so much more

While vast was his knowledge of money

The world of science was an open door

And his mastery of crime wasn’t funny

He was with films an encyclopaedia

With commerce indeed a true master

Had a grasp of all of the modern media

Saw war as a total disaster

He spoke several tongues was a star of linguistics

And famous for his diary

He was also ballistic in the field of statistics

Which guided his expert enquiry

As the days passed by there were those who would try

To fathom the extent of his learning

The challenge for them was far too high

They were but mere humans discerning

But wait a minute there was one doubt

That caused a little surprise

He said to his wife with a smile bobbing out:

“I’m fazed by that love in your eyes.”



Beautiful person

Aide to the tyrant

Close to power at the witching hour

Why tie yourself to the villain?

Is it because you need authority

That is far above sorority?

You have bought your influence

As part of a confluence

With a vile continuity

That brings you false respect

And support for superfluity

You have tied yourself

To the greatest source of power

Known to mankind

It’s a union shaped by hell

And you know deception well

Thus you rise out of the demise

Of truth and gentle pity

You enforce the divorce

Of kindness and love

As heaven above weeps in sorrow

Until with the hateful reign

Society bleeds and cries out in pain

Yours is now the destiny that walks beside doom

Sharing a room with oppression

That ensures the repression

Of peace and beauty and love

So sad it is

Yes bad it is

For your future can never be

Part of democracy’s dream of the free

And the worth

Of all that we need to be

If harmony is to reign on earth


Snake Oil Salesman

There you stand

Proclaiming your own virtue

With the light of fake morality reflected in your eyes

A rogue in disguise

Whose words eulogise

And cover up each dark deed you do

How full of risk you really are!

Outstripping by far

The declared humility of your false identity

You trumpet your bogus virtue

Many times over

Presented as reality by the lies you tell

Ideas garnished like goods to sell

In sickening banality

So note this please as pain to ease

You with all your false regalia 

Are doomed to failure

Your fame that seems so great

Will by its very nature disintegrate

And fall around you like a Slough of Despond

Thus will you not reach beyond despair 

As the sound of your voice pollutes the air

To make our earth a purgatory of disaster

That only the likes of you would seek to master

Heed this now

You, despite your place in an ivory tower,

Are a figure who makes even angels glower

An entity – identity, aiming for the greatest heights

But doomed to give our suffering world last rites

Therefore bicker on with your futile foray

And it shall follow as the night the day

There’s no way your affray will allay the dismay


False Acclaim

You clap your hands like a tycoon

Suddenly discovering wealth

With a weird mystique of pretentiousness

You are really clapping yourself

What is the reason for this season of self acclamation?

It is the fable that displays itself for the good of the nation

You strut on the stage like a peacock

With a mad desire for a mate

You open doors with a counterfeit knock

And then you gesticulate

A question arises from the crowd in shock

How could he matriculate? 

The next thing you do is nod your head

Accepting the fake glory

Then you wave your arms as the meek are led

By their ears to accept your story

On that stage you show fake rage

To disguise your lies as reality

Your babble flows on to another page

In a fictitious form of normality

While this goes on many people die

With a virus out of control

Your ignorance is noted by the well trained eye

You have no wit to extol

Yet still there are cheers mere fragile veneers

While you clap yourself even longer

The noise is your cover to hide the fears

Truth dies as your lies grow stronger

Your vanity’s disguised as fake disdain

Contempt on your bleak face lurking

With your folly no hopes remain

No plan of yours is working

So clap on child of a gorgon as times pass

The doom of the world’s in your hands

It’s the face of a fool in your looking glass

Your downfall is what truth demands


Old King Cole: Halfwit

Old King Cole was a stupid old soul

A vacuous halfwit was he

He lied for his supper in his usual role

And sacked his fiddlers three

One day he got sick with a painful rash

That made him a very slow mover

He went to a store with loads of cash

To buy and drink stain remover

That did him harm and he nearly died

Some doctors called him a fool

So he took fly spray to fix his inside

Which made him look like a ghoul

King Cole as a boss was never at a loss

With an image he thought allured

He proudly gave his big head a toss

And announced to the world he was cured

Then off he went to parliament

Denying he was contagious

He infected victims wherever he went

In a manner clearly outrageous

He was so enraged when they held a debate

He allowed no word in edgewise

Old King Cole was so irate

A bully on a hideous enterprise

But the end was quick for that king who was sick

A republic was the call

They had grown tired of each sinister trick

Now no one recalls him at all

Old King Cole was a stupid old soul

A vacuous halfwit was he

He lied for his supper in his usual role

And sacked his fiddlers three


A Beautiful World

I wandered alone and the birds talked to me

It was a lively conversation

I noticed the sky and was touched by its mystery

As I walked

A number of butterflies danced on the air

As if they were grateful to be alive

This forest was an array of undamaged trees

Standing stoically strong

Their shade was a comfort

The path wove its way between those trees

The sun was casting shafts of gentle light among them

Beautiful fungi were clustered around many trunks

An array of other things caught my eye

Including technicolour flowers

And I saw bees as willing tradesmen

Getting on with their business

Into one corner of my gaze came a possum

Eating a blossom

It seemed to regard me as a trusted friend

Further on I came to a crystal stream

Wending its way as they all do down from the hills 

I saw my reflection

Where the water was not flowing

I seemed to be part of that place

So I stayed a while 

Keen to look where the brook was moving

And above its ripples I saw a dragonfly hovering

Fixed above the water like a painting

Below the golden aura of a crayfish caught my eye

And an unnamed fish went swimming by

There was a peace in that place

And music

I heard voices there pleading with me to look after things

And the cry that all men are brothers

It gave me time to think of others

Torn apart by poverty and war and other men’s greed

There I learned I would not be forgiven

If all I do is listen to the music


%d bloggers like this: