Proverbs Beyond Repair

Dear Reader

Been away for a while because I fell down an escalator. Glad to be back.

Here’s a little piece I wrote with one usable hand. Will be fit again soon.

PROVERBS BEYOND REPAIR

A TOTAL MISCELLANY

CONTRIVED BY

Royce Levi

 

Where the loon sits there sit I
Under the moon
And a blighted sky
The words I hear
Are a twisted notion writhing in air
With appropriate commotion

 

Once upon a commotion a principle was born: Pay the Rich To Feed the Poor. The result was jobs for the snobs.

Pump A. Nickel was not a snob. He was a human rhetorician smitten with an itch that turned into a twitch. The twitch occurred in his funeral orations after every three sentences. Poor soul. That twitch sapped his strength.

O so tired was Pumpy! Sleep it is a blessed thing beloved from post to post. He dozed off unwillingly while sheltering in a coffin and was buried in the dead centre. Look before you sleep.

“If at first you don’t exceed, buy, buy, buy again,” said the Right Honourable Pierre Terpsichore-a-Stare. Prime ministers dance vulnerable dances. Dance for your daddy my little laddie you shall have a penny when the vote comes in.

Dancing got the better of Terpsichore. Depression set in. A person is known by the corporation he keeps. A profit is not recognised in his own land. True. Pierre Terpsichore-a-Stare is voted out of office at the next election.

Is the climate really changing? Ask a silly question and you get a silly answer. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool that to speak and remove all doubt. Duty is in the eye of the beholder. Old King Coal was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he. Anthracite! He’s got the hole world in his hands. Dig me grey-beard loon? Yes. Cheats ever prosper if they have a lobbyist.

“Grime doesn’t pay,” said the scientist. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” said the sceptic. “It never rains but it pours,” said the weatherman. “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” said the denier. The wise owl said, “Let the punishment fit the grime.” It did. A dirty society gets its just deserts.

Tree 13

I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as arboriculture. Money makes the world go round. Money doesn’t grow on trees so cut them down for profit. The unkindest cut of all. How green was my valley is what the chain saw. I’ll drink to that. Absinth makes the heart grow fonder. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die in drought induced wildfires or destructive floods. A load of scrap.

Political axiom: Don’t put all your eggs in the one bastard. The Senate has rejected another bill. East is east, and west is west and never the bandwagons shall meet. Still, it’s better to have shoved and lost than never to have shoved at all. A friend in greed is a friend in need. All’s well that bends well. An eye for an eye and a truth for the booth.

Border protection. All you need is hate. All’s fair in love and war. Banners maketh the man. Old soldiers never die, only young ones. Do undo others as they you would undo. Do as I say, not as I do. War kills babies; a poor workman always blames his tools so don’t throw the bathwater out with the babies.

Any sport in a storm. CEOs of cricket need to agonise young men to keep the sponsors happy. And many a mickle makes the Chief’s muckle. One good term deserves another. The road to Hell is paved with free to air intentions. Money is the route of all evil. Slime goes by so slowly and slime can mean so much advertising. A nerd in the hand is worth two in the bush. That my friends is a woebegone conclusion.

images

Pay up, pay up and play the game.

Trust Me I’m A Politician

Politics is in the air just now. When is it not?

I’ve been thinking of all the votes I’ve cast during my 84 years. Suddenly I found myself hunting up this list of dubious political statements, possibly to help my fellow voters make better judgements. So there we are. Look what I’ve found.

WORDS THAT LINGER – AND FINGER

If you are going to lie, you go to jail for the lie rather than the crime. So believe me, don’t ever lie. Richard Nixon April, 1973 advice to a colleague

No way will the GST be part of our policy. Never ever; it’s dead. John Howard in 1995, one year before he was elected and a little later introduced the GST.

I don’t want in Australia people who would throw their own children into the sea. I don’t. There’s something for me incompatible between somebody who claims to be a refugee and somebody who would throw their own child into the sea. It offends the natural instincts of protection and delivering security and safety to your children. John Howard, 2001.

A number of people that jumped overboard and have had to be rescued, and more disturbingly a number of children have been thrown overboard. I regard these as some of the most disturbing practices that I have come across in the time that I have been involved in public life, clearly planned and premeditated. I imagine the sorts of children who would be thrown would be those who could be readily lifted and tossed without any objection from them. Minister Philip Ruddock, 2001.

Fiction Proven Stranger Than Truth!

But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman. Miss Lewenski. I never told anybody to lie. Not a single time. Never. These allegations are false. And I’m going to go back to work for the American people. Thank you. President Bill Clinton, 26 January, 1998.

Hussein … spends his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies. Madeline Albright, Nov. 10, 1999 Clinton Secretary of State.

The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries of South and South-East Asia. It must be seen as a part of a thrust by Communist China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. R G Menzies, 1965. Really!

It is good contextual information; it can’t be used as league tables. Julia Gillard in March, 2017 on the NAPLAN test.

The nineteenth century American Party, also known as the Know- Nothing Party because members were forbidden to reveal its details, has echoes in our present world.

The Know-Nothing Platform 1856 

(1) Repeal of all Naturalisation Laws.

(2) None but Americans for office.

(3) A pure American Common School system.

(4) War to the hilt on political Romanism.

(5) Opposition to the formation of Military Companies, composed of Foreigners.

(6) The advocacy of a sound, healthy and safe Nationality.

(7) Hostility to all Papal influences, when brought to bear against the Republic.

(8) American Constitutions & American sentiments.

(9) More stringent & effective Emigration Laws.

(10) The amplest protection to Protestant Interests.

(11) The doctrines of the revered Washington.

(12) The sending back of all foreign paupers.

(13) Formation of societies to protect American interests.

(14) Eternal enmity to all those who attempt to carry out the principles of a foreign Church or State.

(15) Our Country, our whole Country, and nothing but our Country.

(16) Finally – American Laws, and American legislation; and death to all foreign influences, whether in high places or low!

Source:  11/12/2017.

Whole Document SourceThe Duke University Special Collections Library: 11/12/2017.

South Vietnam would become a Communist State, and the lives and security of millions who have resisted Communism would be in jeopardy.

The impact of our complete withdrawal, as proposed by the Labor Party, would be felt throughout South-East Asia. We, too, would come under threat. Harold Holt, 1966 – election speech.

In the actions we have now taken we are not concerned to stop Egypt, but to stop war. None the less, it is a fact that there is no Middle Eastern problem at present which could not have been settled or bettered but for the hostile and irresponsible policies of Egypt in recent years, and there is no hope of a general settlement of the many outstanding problems in that area so long as Egyptian propaganda and policy continues its present line of violence. Anthony Eden, 31 October 1956 justifying the disastrous Suez invasion.

Are there not other alternatives than sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders? I have it in me to be a successful soldier. I can visualise great movements and combinations. Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, 1914 aged 40, just before he initiated the disaster of Gallipoli.

*****

To end on a lighter note I conclude this little exposé with a reference to political words of a different kind: creative abuse. I have found no better exponent than

Paul Keating.

Peter Costello was “all tip and no iceberg”, Andrew Peacock an “intellectual rust-bucket”, and Wilson “Iron Bar” Tuckey a “stupid, foul-mouthed grub”. He famously called his 1993 opponent John Hewson, “a feral abacus” with a performance “like being flogged with warm lettuce”, and in saying to him “I want to do you slowly”, delivered a taunt that still echoes in the dark corridors of the Australian political imagination. Keating may have lost the election to Howard in 1996 but one suspects that Keating’s special brand of spoken bastardry will endure beyond any memory of Howard’s words. What, after all, do a majority of votes matter, when your opponent has described you to history as a “mangy maggot”, “the old desiccated coconut”, “araldited to the seat” and a “dead carcass, swinging in the breeze”?

As to the ethics of this, you can decide.

Source:  12/12/2017.

So there you have it; just my little collection of political dalliances with the truth, garnished with some Keating sauce. I hope I haven’t given you indigestion. R.

_________________________________________

Some years ago I tried to do something about all of this deception. I wrote the little book below. It was the subject of an interview on the ABC and raised a laugh there and at other places.

Bastards Cover

It was fun to write. Greg Gaul is a masterly cartoonist who caught my ideas so cleverly.

Here’s a little video I’ve just made about the book.

I have also given it to some political friends with a waiver saying they did not need it. If you want a copy, there are still some left. Just click the PayPal button below. The price is $12.50 AU author signed and posted free anywhere in the world. If you want it, don’t forget to give me your right postal address when you use PayPal.

 

A Survival Guide For Dishonest Political Bastards

A$12.50

Thanks for your company here,

royciebaby.

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.

An Effort To Escape

No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.

George Eliot

So far I have lived twenty-three years longer than Shakespeare. Oh my! What he would have done with that extra time.

As for humble me, I have noticed so many dark deeds in my eighty odd years I will feel guilty unless I at least draw attention to some of them now. That is why I am writing this.

That looking glass of mine still seems to be getting darker and darker. All my years of teaching and that infinity of classrooms have created so much data.

I feel driven just now to talk about the shadows that worry me. Are you familiar with Plato’s Cave? That sums up the way I feel pretty well. So many people in my life have announced THE answer to so many things. One of my problems is that I have seen so many unexpected changes I am beginning to wonder if you can be sure of anything.

Is uncertainty the only certainty? But wait a minute. If my answer is “yes,” how can you be certain about the certainty of my answer? My brain needs a rest. Contact with these four heroes of mine might help you understand what I am trying to say: Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing?

Please note therefore I’m into suggestions not certainties but possibly useful points of view here. For now, as I’ve said elsewhere, I focus on one cause of my anguish at a time. This is the second post in my list.

I am sick of all the sad news around me so I have decided to laugh a bit here.

The problem this time is

Things are not what they seem to be.

The means alas, justifies not the death!

FAKE NEWS 4 SALE. MEDIA WHERE R U?

FROM OUR FOR REIGN CORRESPONDENT

  • I bought a bottle of grow-tall juice by Beanstalk Jack Inc. from my chemist last week  I know it will work because I have seen breathtaking computer generated TV images to prove its effectiveness. Six foot six within my reach! I took my first dose this morning. Watch this outer space!
  •  Midas Merten sold me a pair of Bullshit-detecting Reading Glasses for my 83rd birthday. Cost him a fortune I believe, although included was a pair of absolutely free Climate Change Sunglasses. Haven’t detected anything yet, as I read, but patients are a virtue.
  •  Error-free pens are the latest craze in the US. They are just now poker machine prizes. A new age is approaching and it’s good buy to misspelling.
  • My dear wife has bought me a Truth-selecting Hearing-aid  for our anniversary. So sweet of her!  When I hear words of suspect truth, I notice the volume gets louder but it’s good to know lies won’t trouble me anymore.
  • That Anti-aging Potion I also bought from my chemist last week has caused me a bit of trouble. It’s a three times a day job with a free, precise measuring glass and a homogenised plastic spoon. The first day of treatment went very well but for the last few days I can’t remember where I put the bottle. Damn!

MORE FROM OUR LOCAL CORRESPONDENT

 How Political Schemes Do Come True
  • A dog has just been elected to the Australian Parliament after a long series of court battles. Citizen Canis, as his owners named him, was declared a valid, living being by the High Court and approved on constitutional grounds because dogs have not been specifically forbidden by law to occupy a seat in the House Of Representatives. The dog is functional. All it needs is one bark for yes and two barks for no. The new independent member for Black Tree wags his tail a lot. Frequent requests for support in divisions are usually backed up by gifts of  export quality steak.
  • Citizens are advised that postage stamps are now, as the border enquiry suggests,

A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

  1. “threatening our freedom and much envied way of life. Classified sources now reveal messages in stamped envelopes have been detected avoiding border security. This is a clear and present danger. All foreign stamps therefore will now be vetted by dedicated, well versed geologists. Please note that this may lead to delay of up to six months in delivery.”
  • The Treasurer has announced for tomorrow a state of the art plan to reduce costs and improve the lives of the aged and the disabled with a spectacular Budget switch. On this given date, all motor services for members will cease. Parliamentary vehicles and drivers’ roles will be be diverted  to welfare service for the aged, incapacitated and dying. This will save as the needy will die off more quickly than politicians and so reduce costs and workload.Self-sustained member transport will be applied henceforth. Free bicycles will be issued. For the bicycle infirm, substitute  three-wheeled scooters are planned. Long distance transport will, from this day forth, be by train only. All air transport is banned save for helicopters in a state of emergency. Overseas conferences are already missing from members’ agendas, interstate conferences will be fewer in number, and Skype and internet conferencing will become the new mode of travel.
  • Notice this. Bold steps have also been taken to reduce needed attention span in Parliamentary Question Time. Now, for both questions and answers, the number of words spoken will be limited to what can be stated in a single breath. Breath Detectors have been fitted to all microphones so that if a second breath is taken, a BD switch renders the member totally silent. An increase in the use of gestures has been noted. So too have the many Speaker demands to withdraw unparliamentary gesticulations.
  • In addition,  we report that Standing Orders in the Parliament of Australia have been privatised. The Speaker now has digital support, at a small taxpayer-funded cost, for all judgements. Notable is the Question Time Relevance Monitor. Now, whenever an answer strays from the topic, a whistle blows and a QTRM recorded voice will say loudly, “Tell the truth you devious scam artist.” Disruption has already become suddenly rare and speeches in reply are noticeably brief.
Last Comment: Ad Folk Regularly Advertise Confusion
I just don’t understand these things.

Because I am old and infirm, I don’t get out much. This means I depend on television for my awareness of the world and for advice on how to spend my meagre pension. As you can see, that is serious business. I have to concentrate hard to get things right.

That is the problem!

They keep saying things that don’t make sense. I am nearing an Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood over this. Big challenge in my extreme maturity!

Look. Here are some examples of what I mean.

  • I needed a new scrabble set because I’d lost Q. So I saw this advertisement

BUY ONE TODAY AND GET A SECOND ONE ABSOLUTELY FREE.

I contacted them and told them I’m pretty poor so I would just like the free one please. This caused an immense fuss as they said no. Well how about that! How can something be free if you have to buy something else to get it? So I’ve made a new scrabble rule. If you’ve got u and e, you’ve got q.

  • And then there was my wheelbarrow insurance.

I couldn’t afford to pay a lump sum so I spaced the cost into 12 monthly payments. Would you believe I broke an axle in January and they told me I could get only one twelfth of the value as I hadn’t paid for the whole year. They didn’t tell me that on the big blurb that got me in. Fabulists!

  • My sweet tooth got me into trouble recently. I love hundreds and thousands.

Now look what that has done to me. In one of those shops with good deals I saw a huge jar of hundreds and thousands marked SPECIAL. Now I’ve no surplus money for luxuries, but I decided on a cunning little plan to forgo toothpaste for a month and use salt to clean my teeth.

That was how I bought the great jar. That was why, when I opened it, I had another mixed anxiety and depressed mood outbreak. The jar was only  half full. Jar size trickery. No thousands just hundreds. For some sad reason those pretty sandwiches I made  were not delicious at all.

  • And now I must tell you about the Truth Converter I picked up at Vinnies for a song.

It works under the old AV system. I’ve kept my out of date AV recorders just for old times sake. When you’re 83, old times are important. Things fade away like the old Stanley Steamer don’t they, for various reasons, but they might still be useful one day. This one was.

This Truth Converter works for me! Only me.
I just plug the lead into the old AV recorder.

Look at these results. A mindblow! Look at what I fed in and what came out.

The hordes on that PM did trample as he thought a sample was ample.

robust discussion … a vicious argument

responsible spending … gainful cuts to welfare 

 a deep trust alliance …  all the way with LBJ     

a finely balanced budget … any profitable asset sold

 as soon as is  practical … before the next election

within reasonable time  …  after the next election 

   telling the truth … agreeing with me

nothing but fake news … not agreeing with me

            great prime minister …  great at hiding the truth

There you are. What fun my little toy is! Only paid $1.50 for it. Can’t wait to get back to it.

Finally, to end this post, here’s a little piece I wrote.

Use-by Date

Once in a fit of ill-informed hate

Back in the mists of my time,

Somebody wrote the use-by date

When I would be past my prime.

Then, it was thought, my mind would decay

And the voice would lose its thrall.

Thus, even though I still seized each day,

No one would heed me at all.

It is true, now that I’ve seen a few years

And I’m often in need of a bed,

Some people don’t give me access to their ears

Or even a nod of the head.

But there’s always a trumpet with smiling face

Who will tell you he’s got a solution;

But alas he is crass, brain so far out of place

Any wise thought’s a true revolution.

Yet he’ll offer false dreams with lucrative schemes

To turn all your strife into money.

All that does for me is awaken my screams

As I hide his junk mail in a dunny.

It’s a lonely place this, with your energy spent,

Where half-truths will still come and go;

If you spend your last cent to dispense with the rent,

There are few other strings to your bow.

Yes here then am I, much older than most,

Foundering, some say, and dismasted.

You may feel that I’m past it, or even a ghost,

But I’m not a loot wizard’s snared bastard.

 March 2004

Howard Littlejohn

A Loot Wizard

Thanks and respect to Howard Littlejohn

______________________


Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Twitter is no longer a place for me.

 That is all I have to say about that.

______________________

All images on this site are my own or from Wiki Commons, Creative Commons or Public Domain. If there is any error, please tell me and I will fix things immediately. All my thanks to the wonderful Wiki service and to the artists who share their gifts.

Royce

 images-1

Title: To Know Is To Be Responsible

The words of my title here are from Mordecai Vanunu. They are my inspiration.

 Subtitle: Education On Probation

I have noticed so many dark deeds in my eighty odd years I will feel guilty unless I at least draw attention to some of them now. That is why I am writing this.

So let us begin a journey of revelation even though the past cannot be changed. Perhaps we can refashion its consequences.

First a poem about  unrealities imposed by political ignoramuses:

Categories

Here I am,

Limping through what was once tomorrow,

Struggling, sighing, crying, prying,

Lying in the clutches of the quicksand known as status.

Why is this so?  If you should wish to know

The reason for my life’s hiatus,

Visit my classroom of a dozen years ago,

The bleak place where my grade will forever be

Aligned, confined, maligned, defined as E

For all the world to see.

Not people in that place

But ordered classifications of merit or disgrace,

Probed and detected by tests ad infinitum,

Whose validity moves only fools to cite ’em.

So from that space in my stark inferiority,

Degraded by others’ implied superiority,

I’ve wandered aimlessly deprived of  sanity,

Longing to meet unclassified humanity.

O why am I cursed, reviled and frowned upon

Because I am not an alpha but an epsilon?

August 2009

There you are then: some initial thoughts about the present.

Any thoughts of the past? My past?

Well yes, actually, my eighty-three-year-old mind seems to want to hang on to my school memories.

1938: Kindergarten

My school life begins.

At any given moment there is always so much still to be learnt by every child. Take me as a child for example. Here’s a bit of my history to illustrate the challenge for curriculum designers.

When I was five,
I was just alive.

A A Milne knew all about me then, and I knew him. But what of the rest of the world? Look at all the things I didn’t know about.

Who was ruling the world then?

Australia — Prime Minister — Joseph Lyons

Germany — Chancellor — Adolf Hitler

Italy — Prime Minister — Benito Mussolini

Russia / Soviet Union — Secretary Joseph Stalin

United States — President — Franklin D. Roosevelt

United Kingdom — Prime Minister — Neville Chamberlain.

Look at what was happening to other children.

“Kindertransport” allowed children to escape from Germany to the United Kingdom in December of 1938 of to save up to 10,000 between 1938 and 1940. Many of these children’s parents were killed during the Holocaust.

Look at the inventions I was to  use eventually, but so much later.

Teflon is created.

Du Pont produces “nylon”. The first nylon toothbrushes are marketed.

The ballpoint pen, also called a biro, is invented in Hungary by Laszlo Bir.

The photocopier is created in the USA by Chester Carlston.

Freeze Dried Coffee is created by Nescafe.

Look at the arts that were not yet able to shape my thoughts.

Action Comics issues the first Superman comic.

Popular Films:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs;

Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney;

Jezebel, starring Bette Davis.

Look at the “adult” events so far from being understood by the child.

Adolf Hitler is Time magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

Howard Hughes sets a new Round The World Air Record of 3 days, 19 hours.

The first use of a seeing eye dogs occurs.

RMS Queen Elizabeth is launched at John Brown, Clydebank, Scotland.

Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.

Albert Hofmann synthesises LSD.

Mexico nationalises foreign oil wells.

The Munich Agreement is signed.

Japan commits the Nanjing Massacre in China.

Germany invades the Sudetenland.

Freak Waves at Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia have 300 swimmers caught in a rip.

Now my teachers belonged to an era very different from today.

Yet I wonder why those teachers of mine still seem to be keeping an eye on me; those mentors of Miranda Primary School south of Sydney New South Wales Australia, in my time. That distant time had war, Empire Day and the White Australia Policy. Yet Conan, an Australian  boy originally from China, was in my class and we were mates.

Those teachers of mine must have been contributing factors to that friendship. They made the curriculum of their time work for Conan and me despite the troubled world we were in.

That’s my point. Love, empathy, professional awareness can win against a hostile world and inadequate administration. Is that happening in 2017? Not sure.

Above all, there was something about those teachers I trusted and respected. Such trust is a vital need today. Teachers teach everyone from PM to Inmate 765. Their work has vast consequences. They need support and open, free doorways to their own learning. Bad schools created by a balanced budget cost far more than Shakespeare’s Horatio could ever have dreamed of. University student-mortgages kill learning.

Mr Manuel, the Miranda silver-haired headmaster (principal these days) had a lovely rose garden. I can still smell the roses. To track it down today you would need to excavate the vast shopping centre now eulogised as Miranda Fair. This could  create two kinds of depression.

Miss Rogers, who taught me to read in Second Class and struggled to remove the threepence I put up my nose one silly day, still seems to be somewhere near me now. I can still sing “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” the song Mrs Jurd taught me in Fourth Class. Ben Jonson’s 1616 poem “Song To Celia” still lives in me because of that teacher.

Mr McDonald, my Fifth Class teacher, ladled milk to others and me as long as we brought a mug. Departmental policies extended this innovation to sealed bottles in the Fifties when I became a teacher. The milk was free in those days. I loved it. It made me feel I was part of a family not a contest.

Just now my looking glass seems to be getting darker and darker. I have been a teacher, K to university, for fifty years. Three degrees and an infinity of classrooms. That creates a big data base for judgements and comparisons.

That’s why I feel I’ve just got to talk about the shadows that worry me, as I leave the leading lights to their own narcissistic power. I can’t talk about everything at the one time. For now I focus on one cause of my anguish. Here it is. More later I hope.

The Curriculum Testing  Calamity

Too many externally imposed, one-off tests in reality decide not what you are but how well you can do the tests. Look at the lucrative flood of HOW TO DOs for Australia’s NAPLAN Tests. We teachers warned about this before this travesty of assessment was introduced. Those sales to me are indicators of the false status given to NAPLAN.

Of course we teachers use tests. We are professionals. We teach, test and reteach. We use diagnostic tests and we use attainments tests. But they don’t give children nervous collapse and create false league tables. Can’t we do better than allow the ridiculous tyranny of one-off testing to decide the fate of children and their teachers?

More or less on this matter, here’s a little poem I wrote some years ago when the troubles began to emerge.

Dear Teacher Did You Read It?

Dear teacher did you really read my story really truly read it really truly?

What I said was true–
My darling mother died when I was only ten.
It is true I didn’t understand we’d never meet again.

It is true my world became a beast that seemed to snarl and bite.
It is true that every kindness ceased and even God took fright.

It is true my father ran away when his world seemed to end.
It is true I searched the human race and couldn’t find a friend.

It is true I longed just one more time to hold her hand in mine.
It is true I jigged away on trains to the end of every line.

It is true you are busy every day, planning and doing your work.
So much to read and so much to say that it’s only rest you shirk.

But why did you talk about full stops and little slips of the pen
And give me an E on my report card and make me write it again?

Dear teacher did you really read my story really truly read it really truly?

August 2006

For your interest, her-picture-is-here.

What is a professional? Clearly someone who by study and experience has earned the trust of society. A practising surgeon is a clearly recognised professional. That surgeon, that adversary of death, pain and suffering, is widely recognised. How ludicrous it would be to force his patients to do a politically devised objective test before each operation!

Teachers have to do exactly this.

We teachers too, have difficulty in gaining the professional recognition awarded to surgeons. We have all been in classrooms and therefore claim to have the power to judge teachers. Very few of us have been awake in surgeries.

The surgeon creates, and deserves, instant respect as an enemy of death and illness. The teacher, as a proponent of life with all its vagaries and vicissitudes, may never know the precise consequences of a lifetime of teaching and so self-respect is often the main incentive to carry on. If you get out of the classroom and wander into the deceptive backrooms of administrative expertise, you can quickly rise to power over the classroom teacher.

But if you love children and teaching, carry on regardless in those classrooms.

Epilogue

Well now here I am: eighty-three and looking back on all those classrooms. I am so glad those teaching years happened for me. I feel justified in my professional status, despite my flaws from time to time.

One special thing I really do believe. If you were to give me a child in my classroom for a year, or even half of that year, I would be able to tell you far more about that child than twenty NAPLAN Tests.

And there on my old and rickety, pain riven legs I stand.

Parting Words

The Browning Version  Terence Rattigan

Andrew Crocker-Harris: You must excuse me. I had prepared a speech, but I find now that I have nothing to say. Or rather, I have three very small words, but they are most deeply felt. They are these: I am sorry. I am sorry because I have failed to give you what you had the right to demand of me as your teacher: sympathy, encouragement, and humanity.

Goodbye Mr Chips  James Hilton

“These examinations and certificates and so on–what did they matter? And all this efficiency and up-to-dateness–what did that matter, either? Ralston was trying to run Brookfield like a factory–a factory for turning out a snob culture based on money and machines…”

Class dismissed for now…

Royce

Words Beyond Repair: War

WORDS BEYOND REPAIR: WAR

ANOTHER MISCELLANY 

CONTRIVED BY 

Royce Levi

Where the loon sits

There sit I

Under the moon

And a blighted sky

The words I hear

Are a twisted notion

Writhing in air

With due commotion

Dear old Auntie Joy was my favourite relative. She was extremely patriotic. Her husband, my Uncle Joe, was killed in the First World War. This is probably why his wife was loyal to her native oil field. Throughout the Second World War she dutifully knitted socks, gloves and jumpers for the drillers. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

“A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind general,” said Uncle Joe before he went over the top for the last time. “Ours not to reason why; ours but to drill or die.”

Breathes there the man with soul so dead

Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native oil field!

I have been declared incompetent by an incompetent judge. Does that make me competent? Speaking of incompetence, don’t mention Gallipoli.  Sir Winston Churchill, who designed the deadly Dardanelles plan, was declared a partial dyslexic after this Gallipoli speech: “I honour my Dog, I verse my King, I lasso the Flag.”

Gallipoli did nothing for morale. Yet while there’s strife there’s hope. And adversity makes strange deathbeds. The river of death has brimmed its banks but the voice of a tycoon rallies the ranks: “War’s suffering is infinite but there’s money in’t.”

And thus it’s hello to arms. So be it! First you need an enemy. If you can’t find one, invent one. When this fails, spin folks a yarn about WMD. War is peace. Peace is slavery. Ignorance is strength. You give me the pictures I’ll give you the war.

The Adventures of Annabel

Annabel was poor and her life was sad;

Her future looked bleak and her prospects bad;

Her woes were ended by a bombshell factor;

She went off and married a defence contractor.

Now she wears challis in her palace and rings on her fingers. Has a perfume so costly the memory lingers. And now you can see her flash across the sky as a socialite.

Any man’s death diminishes me for I am involved in mankind. And therefore never seek to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for the arms corporations.

Choose your weapons. Hail Agent Orange, thou Heaven born knave, divine defoliant. Absolute power pollutes absolutely. In the end, your success will be determined by your platitude. I came. I saw. I contaminated.

Sydney streets along which the United States President will travel on Saturday will be named for the day “President Johnson Way.” Sydney Morning Herald: October 18, 1966. All the way with what can you say?

Conscription is, and always has been, a sinister word for Australian ears because Australians have always associated conscription with overseas war. Those who have imposed conscription on a section of our twenty-year-old voteless youths not to defend Australia, but to fight and die in a cruel, filthy, brutal, unwinnable war in Vietnam mangrove swamps, know this very well. Arthur Calwell: Sydney Morning Herald, April 14, 1966.

Child Haven

Vale Errol Wayne Noack (1945-1966) 

Australians in Vietnam are the new Anzacs. They are fighting in order that we in Australia will be spared the march of tyranny down through South-East Asia. Thus spake William McMahon: Sydney Morning Herald: April 23, 1966.

They’re selling placebos down my way. Going cheap. I’ve tried them. They really do work. More often than not. You’ve got to believe in things of course. It’s all in the mind. O the mind has mountains! Placebos worked brilliantly at recent press conferences about keeping our borders safe. All with free tea and biscuits.

But some things we need to remember.

“Forward, the 6 RAR!”  

Was there a man dismayed?  

Not tho’ the soldier knew  

  Some one had blunder’d:  

Theirs not to make reply,  

Theirs not to reason why,  

Long Tan: 18 dead …     

Into the Valley of Death  

  Rode the silent majority. 

Peace be with you now.

IMG_0728

 

A Survival Guide For Dishonest Political Bastards

 

This bit of great fun was the first book I wrote in my exciting “retirement” after 2004. There are seven different titles in the National Library now.

I simply love the “busyness.”

I’ll let this battle-scarred image of me on YouTube do the talking here. That will do for now.

Book 1 copy

The same PayPal buying conditions as in my other site places, author signed, comment and no extra charge postage, will apply.

Thanks for your visit and more regards,

Royce

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