Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Don’t read the comments

September 26, 2017

One night last December, Jaden Duong drove a rented van to the premises of the Australian “Christian” Lobby (ACL) in Canberra.  In the van were four LPG gas cylinders.  There was a fire/explosion, causing substantial damage to ACL’s offices.  It can’t have taken the police long to find Duong – suffering severe burns, he had walked 4km or so to Canberra Hospital.  He told police he had been trying to kill himself.

Lyle Shelton, the head of ACL, rushed back from his holidays.  He tweeted that he was shocked that things could come to this in Australia.  There was more about how violence was being incited against ACL by opponents calling ACL bigots etc.

Police, who had spoken to Duong, hastened to reassure the community that they were satisfied that this was not a terrorist incident.  The basis for this appears to have been their own assessment of Duong and his statements to them that his primary motive had been to kill himself and that the choice of location was subsidiary – though in fact there was some material pretty early on which indicated that Duong was unhappy about organised religion and ACL.

Duong spent some months in hospital (including for mental issues) in Sydney.  It wasn’t until June 2017 that he first appeared in court and his identity was disclosed to the world.

Straight away, what the Chinese call the “human flesh engine” got to work.  They were interested in depicting Duong as a “SJW” (that’s “Social Justice Warrior”) at whose hands ACL were being victimised.  They wanted to establish that the ACT Police were giving Duong a soft ride.

Duong had spent some time in San Francisco in about 2014 when his partner was working there.  He did some volunteer work for democrat politicians and a cat shelter; he appeared in a gay fundraising Mr Gay Asian and Pacific pageant; he welcomed the striking down by the US Supreme Court of the Defence of Marriage Act.  It looks as though he was doing volunteer work because as a gay partner he couldn’t get a working visa.

Back in 2003 or so Duong had also made a comment about gay law reform which was published in the SMH.

That’s about it, but on the strength of this the Murdoch press followed up this narrative, describing Duong as a “gay activist.”

If you find opinion pieces by someone, even if only 2 over 15 years, I guess you could say they are an activist.  Much as you might say someone who writes for News Limited/News Corp is a journalist.

Here’s a sample of the Catallaxy forum  from 7 June when Duong’s name was first released and the human flesh engine unleashed. Leigh Lowe is a particular charmer.

Look, let’s not jump to conclusions.
It could be that the court might just be trying to spare Duonger some embarrassment.
Maybe he was found in leopard print leggings with red stilettos or some other ghastly ensemble that any self-respecting poove wouldn’t be (cough) found dead in.

And picking up on this found material:

Jaden Duong, an Australian living in San Francisco, welcomed the high court’s decision on DOMA.
“My partner’s here in the U.S. for work,” he said. “I’m here on a tourist visa indefinitely because of DOMA. Now they have to recognize us … which means his work visa includes me.”

LL said:

Jaden (WTF?) appears to be front and centre everywhere.
The volunteer work is explained by the fact that his partner was in the US for work.
I wonder if the partner had a gummint posting? If so, if he is hooked up with someone who tried to commit a terrorist act, both Duonger and the partner may appear on DHS watchlist, and both may be banned from travelling to and working in the US.
Just wait for some screaming fag to bung on a Mem Fox if detained at an airport and you night have your suspected boyfriend.
Look, I am prepared to acknowledge the possibility that … and I know this sounds crazy … that Duonger was a common-or-garden drama queen, who was approaching (OMG!) his 40th birthday, maybe had a series of failed relationships in quick succession, and decided to top himself.
It’s just that blowing yourself to bits in a van doesn’t scan like a typical drama-queen suicide MO.
Whatever, there is no excuse for brushing it under the carpet. The AFP’s rush to call “nothing to see here” whilst the Duonger hadn’t even been interviewed is suspect to say the least.

Jo jumped on the wagon:

jo

Leigh Lowe
#2404865, posted on June 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Sorry ..
“ring wear” should read “ring to wear”.
sorry.
Won’t happen again.

A lefty in San Francisco will have plenty of “ring wear”.

Another scintillator referred to “tontine fanging.”  (Geddit?)

Duong had another court date in August and then last week.  Each date was the occasion of a fresh dose of the Newscorp treatment describing him as a gay activist.  Duong pleaded not guilty on account of mental impairment.  It’s clear that police (who despite the Newscorp and altrite commentary, are not softies about this sort of thing) recognized Duong had mental difficulties.  The Murdoch press trawled through court papers and snippets of remarks in the hearings to build up the contrary picture, in simple terms, that Duong was bad, not mad, or at least bad enough and not mad enough to be responsible.

On Sunday Duong, aged 36, was found dead.  There were no suspicious circumstances.

It is very very sad.

 

 

 

First cuckoo

September 12, 2017

Last night I heard something from the stand of trees in the grounds of the nearby public school.  It sounded like a bird but I couldn’t work out which.

This afternoon I unmistakeably heard a channel-billed cuckoo in full voice.

Could it be the more subdued sounds last night were the marks of exhaustion after a long commute?

I was there

September 11, 2017

Yesterday at D’s insistence and with him I did my part and went to the marriage equality rally in town.  There was a festival atmosphere on the train as we headed in with about 15 minutes to spare before the advertised start of 1 pm.

The last demonstrations I went to were the marches that broke many Australians’ heart – the big ones in 2003 against the invasion of Iraq.

The worst thing about such rallies is that practically every member of the organising coalition, and then a few more, has to have someone up there giving a speech.  This can really try one’s patience.  There is also the problem that in such a coalition on one issue, people will want to push the envelope out to the corner of their particular concerns.  Mostly I was with them at every corner and suspicious bulge to the package, but in the light of the “No” case campaigners’ attempt to make this postal opinion poll about every other issue than marriage of people not of a different sex, it would have been prudent, in my opinion, to keep things tight.

Bill Shorten gave a speech where he managed to reference “Climb Every Mountain,” “You’ll never walk alone,” the parable of the Good Samaritan and the St Crispin’s Day speech (those not here today will wish they were and say they were.)  There were probably more references that I missed.

So we stood out the speeches and after a longish wait to decant from Town Hall Square, headed along Park Street, Elizabeth Street, Phillip Street, Bridge Street and Young Street to Circular Quay where we were told Pauline Pantsdown had taken the stage in front of Customs House.  We didn’t actually see her as the square was pretty much full to capacity and we took the opportunity to catch a train home while we still could – just after 3.30.

It felt like a big rally to me so I was a bit peeved that it only ranked No 3 in the evening news. In some cases the rally was coupled with coverage of Malcolm Turnbull attending his own tame (I doubt if a single non-coalition-apparatchik gay person was in attendance) Liberals & Nats forum for the Yes campaign. As if Malcolm’s do was in any way comparable to tens of thousands of people on the streets.  Also a bit rich and doubtless calculated of him to hold it on this day.

I found myself immersed in a terrible emulatory hardness of heart waiting for “our” story to reach the screen: how dare those pesky Hurricane Irma types (No 1, though with predictably much more attention to the yet to suffer Floridians than the already devasted Cubans and Martinians) or Mexican earthquake victims vie with our just cause for attention?

There were lots of colourful costumes. My favourite was more subtle – a t-shirt in the style of an old pale blue Penguin paperback cover worn by a gent, about my age.  The book title?   An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde.

 

 

Nasty

August 7, 2017

Last Friday I drove out to Concord Hospital to pick up D, whom I had dropped off at 7am for day surgery.

For some reason the car radio was tuned to 98.5 fm.  According to Wikipedia:

2000FM (callsign 2OOO) is a multilingual community radio station broadcasting to Sydney in languages other than English from studios in the suburb of Burwood. It is a volunteer run organisation and is funded through listener support, grants and limited commercial sponsorship.[1]

The mission of 2000FM is to provide a service through dedication to enrich the cohesion of our cultural diversity via tolerance, understanding and respect for each other.[2]

When I turned the radio on just after setting off a man was reading from John Hewson’s article in the SMH, the substance of which was to complain that members of the Liberal Party who were agitating for a free vote on marriage equality were grandstanding at the expense of the coalition’s electoral prospects.

Hewson had written:

To be clear, I support same-sex marriage, and like so many who do, don’t, and are just a bit “here and there”, I would like to have seen the matter dealt with expeditiously, given what is perceived as widespread community support.

Up till then, I didn’t know what station I was listening to – I thought it might have been RPH (PH for print handicapped).  I was swiftly disabused of this when the reader interrupted his reading at this point to ask John Hewson, as a politician, if he ever would have been asked to write an article on SSM for the SMH if he did not say he was in favour of it.  Then I knew what side the wind would be blowing from.

Not that Hewson was actually there to answer the question.

From there on the reader interspersed Hewson’s text with his own comments. By the end (he hadn’t finished when I finally got out of the car) he was in full flood.

The argument as far as I recall it was:

  1. The trouble all began when we let same sex parents have children.
  2. Children hate to be left out or to be different.
  3. Same sex parents therefore wanted to be married so that they could go to parent teacher nights etc and be recognized. [so far an interesting inversion of the ‘all about the children’ arguments – it shows how people attribute to their opponents their own ways of thinking]
  4. So now they were trying to subvert our traditional notion of marriage, and take away our marriage, the institution of which we are a part;
  5. Which is part of our Armenian cultural heritage [he didn’t sound very Armenian, if that is possible, and maybe I’m a bit mixed up here with the announcements from time to time that the program was sponsored by St Gregory’s Armenian School – an institution which in fact was wound up some years ago with its premises at Rouse Hill now sold to Malek Fahid Islamic School and much productive – for lawyers – litigation]
  6. And not, (implicitly, like homosexuals) a matter of genital-to-genital.
  7. And now some of our politicians think they know better than us!
  8. there’s this Warren Entsch “not that I know Warren Entsch from a bar of soap – except that a bar of soap leaves you clean
  9. So you should get on your computers, I know you have them, and tell them that you don’t want it;
  10. Don’t let those homosexuals get their fingers on our marriage!

There was more with which obviously I disagree, and I haven’t remembered all the nasty swipes along the way – I’ve only really clearly the remembered the one at Entsch.  I think the “fingers” (why not hands?) remark was also associated in some way with some snide suggestion (maybe about genitals again) that made it seem nastier then than it does as I have reported it.

Meanwhile, today the Liberal Party, summoned by Malcolm Turnbull, has stuck to Tony Abbott’s poison pill.  It’s not that both major political parties (Julia Gillard was a particular disappointment and Penny Wong not much better) haven’t had to wrestle in their own ways with the art of the politically possible, but surely the politically possible is changing?  The biggest irony is that, at least from where I stood, Abbott’s slippery entrenchment of the plebiscite by a joint party meeting was the final nail in his political coffin, because it was not how many had understood his previous political undertakings, even if it was consistent with the fine print.

Even the statutory embedding of a man-woman definition into the Marriage Act in 2004 (one of John Howard’s many bad deeds, though not without accomplices) was such an entrenchment – because if there was nothing to try to resist in a last ditch way there was no point in it at all.

The only consolation I can see at present is that if the head of steam builds up strongly enough, the change, when it comes, will be less traded off for little sheltered pockets of bigotry.

Here’s hoping.

 

 

 

 

My (new) scenic ride to work 1

June 11, 2017

Just over a year ago, I moved to Canterbury. Ironically, just as NSW mergers of local government areas brought into being an officially designated “Inner West,” after over 30 years (leaving aside my Perth sojourn) I am no longer living there.

That was a bit of a blow to my geographical self-respect (self-regard some may say).  It also means that I am one big hill further away from the city.  As age takes its toll, that has proved an obstacle to a bicycle commute.

Maybe one day I will surmount that.  Meanwhile, when time and weather permit, I can ride to Sydenham and take a fast and more frequent train from there.  This is my new scenic ride (half way) to work.  It takes me mostly along a stretch of the Cooks River cycleway.

detention, green

That’s the detention pond near the mouth of Cup and Saucer Creek, not long after I join the path on the south side of the river.  When I took this picture it was full of unsightly green algae. It has since cleared up.

P1120071

 

This is a distant view of the old sugar mill, now converted to flats:

P1120006

I usually cross the river at this point:

bridge near sugar mill

There is a small harbour which must have been used for the sugar mill:

sugar mill harbour

An area is fenced off to protect birds basking in the sun from pesky people.

pelicans 1

pelicans 2

I suppose I got too close for comfort.

It was difficult to catch a good photo of this, but you can detect the main stream of the river from the plastic water bottles and other flotsam floating up and down along it with the tide.  Here at least some street rubbish has been captured at the end of a stormwater drain:

rubbish trap

though as we know it is but a drop in the ocean.

The path continues past sometimes flood-prone land and (I’m being botanically imprecise here) pleasing stands of paperbarks which I guess find that congenial.

P1120075

After passing playing fields and some decommissioned tennis courts, the path crosses the Cooks River again on a bridge which is definitely in need of renewal.

This brings the path back to the southern side of the Cooks River.  There is a mosque.

islamic centreThe path crosses Wardell Road and there are more playing fields and a tennis court which is often being played on until quite late at night.  A new bridge crosses over again just near the Marrickville Golf Course clubhouse:

golf course bridge

P1120078

I ride past the club house and out of the golf course, cross the bottom of Illawara Road and come to Steel Park.

Even if I’m not really thirsty, I always pause for a drink of water here on principle.

water stand

Because it’s free.

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed travel ban for pedophiles

May 30, 2017

News  is out today that the Australian government, at the urging of HH Derryn Hinch, will be taking passports away from convicted pedophiles.  It is estimated that over 20,000 convicted sex offenders on the National Child Offender Register may lose their passports or their eligibility for them.

It’s a slippery slope, and we seem to be rushing headlong down it.  Here is one comment by “Mark II” on that story:

I think it’s a great initiative – I am no supporter of this government but I think this will sail through with bipartisan support. In fact, I’d extend it further, and say anyone convicted of a trafficking offence for drugs or serious financial misdemeanours should be barred from travelling, too. I’m not talking about a recreational marijuana user or kid who’s swallowed some E down the club – but anyone selling, sorry, you lose the right to be tempted a la Corby and the current clone. And – if you rob your employer or clients and go to jail for it – likewise. No escaping overseas to start anew and avoid your garnishee responsibilities.

At  least “Mark II” shows some awareness of the possible blanket-reach of such measures.  Good luck to him in expecting that the authorities will draw the right line between serious and minor offences – the current approach to even trace elements of drugs (which provide no evidence of intoxication or impairment) in roadside drug tests is a case in point.

Others cheerfully propose even more radical measures without such awareness.

My own feelings are more in line with this comment, by “Jack” (though “scum” is not a word I would choose to use even of people who do very bad things):

I agree child sex tourists are scum. But we need to be careful with populist blanket legislation because, as we have seen, it can have unintended consequences and it can impose excessive punishment on those individuals who are not likely to reoffend. This is why authorities, even in the USA, have questioned the fairness and effectiveness of blanket sex offender registers. So I’d rather see a targeted register, with judges having the option of putting a name on it.

 

If you follow the jurisprudence in NCAT and other tribunals dealing with applications for Working with Children Clearances (rough selection here), you will soon discover that a very broad range of people commit offences against children.  Only some of these are indicative of a settled tendency to abuse children; many others are products of specific situations which are not likely to be repeated or where the person convicted is likely to rehabilitate and has by now shown that to be the case. These, include juvenile “sexting,” obsessive curiosity in the face of the internet, difficult family and personal circumstances, immaturity and loneliness.

There is a whole heap of bus drivers who have done something wrong within their own family, often many years ago, but who have driven buses without incidents for decades, who are currently been deprived of their employment even though the likelihood of their offending against someone outside the family must be very small – as their incident free record since demonstrates.  They go to the tribunal to try to get a clearance but often fail because they lack the resources to mount a proper case.

Some people who have pleaded guilty many years ago to what then seemed a minor offence (which they might have defended) must now regret that decision bitterly.

To ban someone for life from leaving the country is a very simplistic response to a wide range of offences.

If there are to be travel bans, it would be better if these were imposed on a case by case basis when there is a real risk; they could be limited by time or subject to some procedure for review/extension.

I realise that whilst this could be done going into the future for fresh offences, it would leave unaddressed the question of historical offences.

It is not easy to see how this can be addressed.  The many difficulties just expose to me the fundamental wrongness of imposing a civil disability retrospectively in a blanket way.

Cases of notorious sex offenders in South-East Asian countries (mostly) are rightly a matter of outrage, but they must be a very small number compared to the 20,000+ on the Child Sex Offenders Register (plus those whose offences occurred too long ago for them to make it on to the register).

One possibility would be to impose a more selective ban, targeted to those with historic offences whose travel activities indicate repeated travel to “child sex tourism” destinations.  In the future, this would require more rigorous collection of destination information for overseas travellers, which at present is mostly based, I expect, on self-reporting on travellers’ return.

Whatever will be done will involve some overreach, and even if there is a mechanism for appealing against it, will inevitably work against the less well-resourced.  It will also work against people with family overseas who have legitimate reasons to visit them and for whom the usual assumption (and Government attitude) that a passport is a privilege rather than must be questionable.

In the meantime, we can expect charges of offences of this nature to be defended more vigorously than ever, with attendant trauma to complainants/victims.  This is already happening.  Even when there is a plea of guilty, the process of investigation (to ensure nothing worse happened) and prosecution has its own Heisenberg effect, as in the case of Christopher Ryan Jones which led to victim impact statements from victims who would probably otherwise have been happily oblivious of the wrong done to them.

 

 

 

 

 

Adrian Ashley of the House of Cooper

May 3, 2017

One day, Adrian answered a knock at his front door.  He was seized by two men.  Adrian said they were assaulting him; they said they were policeman (which, though in plain clothes, they were) arresting him on a bench warrant for failure to attend court in relation to a charge for possession of cannabis.

Adrian called out to Izabella-marie, who was in the house.  She phoned Keith for help.  Keith talked on the phone to the police but was ineffective in dissuading them from taking him to Newtown Police Station.  Keith (and maybe Izabella-Marie) went to the Newtown Court House.  Keith’s account of what happened there is as follows:

(18)   We [Keith] went into the court room, where the presumed magistrate (her office/title was undisclosed) was made aware that We believe the Man called by Adrian may be under false arrest due to the fact that due process of law to which Adrian was deprived and was not followed, as such the officers may have committed assault, abduction and kidnap in company without warrant.

(19)   One [Keith] was asked by the Magistrate if we wanted to apply for bail.

(20)   We made her aware that we wanted him released immediately due to the failure of the police officers to follow due process of law.

(21)   The Magistrate then asked “Mr Cooper” if he wanted bail? One informed her that Adrian was not a Mister as this is a military title and that he is not in the military and that the man known as Adrian uses no titles.

(22)   The Magistrate said “bail is refused” and left the court, knowing we were there to get Adrian released as we believe the Police officers may have exceeded the alleged authority which would be misfeasance of their office and therefore also committing a wrong/tort in their private capacity under common law.

On 26 April Keith went to the Supreme Court seeking a writ of habeas corpus for Adrian’s release.  He said (to paraphrase):

  • Adrian was a loyal subject of the Queen who believes the St James Bible to be the only law and has not consented to be governed by the laws of this state (having delivered a declaration to that effect to the police);
  • Possession of cannabis could not be a crime, citing Genesis:
    “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
  • The arrest was unlawful because (1) the police did not have the warrant with them; and (2) because it was effected violently.

None of these points succeeded before Justice McCallum, sitting as the duty judge.  As the application (which was procedurally irregular in many respects) had been brought outside usual sitting hours, she dismissed it and reserved her reasons, now published as Application of Adrian Ashley of the House of Cooper [2017] NSWSC 533.

As to the Genesis argument, McCallum J couldn’t resist a bit of judicial humour (at [10]):

The point might have been made in response to the petitioner’s [Keith’s] submission that, according to those words, if it is God who supplies cannabis to man, it is for nutritional rather than recreational purposes.

but seriously, folks:

In any event, I took the view that the matters contended for by the petitioner would not afford a defence to an offence against ss 10 or 23(1)(c) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act1985 (NSW), which prohibits the possession of cannabis in a number of forms, regardless of its origin.

She held that is not necessary for police to be in possession of a warrant to effect an arrest under it.

The “Hutt River Province” argument was manifestly hopeless.  As she concluded [these numbers should start at 24]:

  1. I did not think it was reasonably arguable that the applicant’s [Adrian’s] affirmation and proclamation were effective to relieve him of the constraints imposed upon him by the law.
  2. Unsurprisingly, the petitioner concluded his submissions by citing Magna Carta (version not identified).
  3. After hearing from the applicant at length, I formed the view that no reasonable basis for a writ of habeas corpus was disclosed and, indeed, that the application was manifestly hopeless. In that circumstance, I did not consider it appropriate to grant the relief sought or to make orders for any further step to be taken in the proceedings.
  4. I wish to record that, during the hearing, I informed the petitioner on a number of occasions that it remains open to the applicant to make a release application under the Bail Act 2013 (NSW). The petitioner appeared to reject that proposition, evidently taking the view that a release application is only appropriate in circumstances of lawful detention, whereas he contends the applicant’s detention is unlawful. The petitioner’s view is misconceived in that respect and he potentially does the applicant a disservice in adhering to it. It is to be hoped that the applicant is aware of his entitlement (notwithstanding his stated position of eschewing the benefits and privileges conferred upon him by the State) to bring a release application under the Bail Act. Any such application is likely to be better received without the embellishment of insistence upon medieval modes of address or ill-informed incantation of God’s law and Magna Carta.

Oh, everything is so civilized in the Supreme Court, even if it is only on the surface.  Of course it didn’t get Adrian out of gaol.  Nevertheless, Justice McCallum heard Keith and allowed him to make his application at length, outside normal court hours, and even gave a little bit of judicial advice.

I wonder if things were all so sweet when, next morning, assuming the police delivered him up, Adrian was brought out of the cells to appear before Magistrate Greg Grogin at the Central Local Court.

Maybe they weren’t.  The charges in the Local Court are listed for mention on 11 May, again at the Central Court, which is the one set up best to deal with people already in custody.

Unfinished books 2

April 25, 2017

back end cartload

This is the second in a series.

Amongst the books I have salvaged from my late father’s house is a copy of George Johnston’s last book, A Cartload of Clay.

My copy is ex the YMCA library in Sydney.  A pristine date due slip and loan card in an envelope pasted inside the back cover suggest it was never borrowed from that library.  The front page bears the name of a colleague of my father’s, with whom he lunched practically every day when they were both at work (I joke that he was “the other man”).  Judging from another, pencilled note “1st ed. $1” he bought it second-hand.

Published in 1971, this the third instalment of Johnston’s “David Meredith” trilogy, following My Brother Jack (1964) and Clean Straw for Nothing (1969).  I heard My Brother Jack read (abridged, obviously) as a serial on ABC Radio some time in the early 70s and later read it and Clean Straw for Nothing when I was about 16. I surely also read Cartload of Clay then, if only out of completism, though I have no real recollection of that.  I was probably too young to get what it was on about.

The trilogy is autobiographical – David Meredith is Johnston, subject to the usual fictive rearrangements. Cressida is his second wife, Charmian Clift.  Johnston and Clift returned to Australia in 1964; Clift committed suicide on the eve of the launch of CSFN.

Cartload follows a day when the widowed Meredith sets out on a “practice walk” up the street to the church where his daughter is to get married.  Like Johnston, Meredith has lung problems.  He doesn’t get far.  Taking a breather at a bench by a bus stop he meets various local characters and dozes off and his mind wanders – to an interlude in wartime Kunming – an affair and his friendship there with the poet Wen Yiduo; – to a trek on the Tibetan plateau with a photographer friend who later fell off a mountain when stepping back to take a picture; to his time in Greece; to his return to Australia and his encounters with the younger generation; to the suicide by Cressida with the stock of barbiturates he had kept by his bed to do the deed for himself; to his childhood in Elsternwick – revisiting a subject already dealt with in My Brother Jack, but now treated with less scorn.

It is hard to see how the novel could have finished other than with the death of David Meredith.  In the end, Johnston beat his character to it and the book was published unfinished.  There is a good introduction by Sydney’s Mr Literature of the day, John Douglas Pringle.

I realise that I am pretty much exactly same age that Johnston must have been when he wrote this – he died just two days after his 58th birthday.  I am sure this makes me more receptive to its themes than I can have been when 16.

I’ll squib the duty of a literary critic just as I do of a musical one: I don’t profess to say what the book is about  (as if a novel can be reduced to a syllogism).  There are some quaintnesses of period (the Youth generation; women) but also much that is resonant to me – poetic even.  I have enjoyed reading it.

Here is an extract – omitted yesterday on account of ANZAC day.

Meredith discovers he has bitten his fingernail down to the bleeding quick:

Meredith fingernails I

Meredith fingernails II

That is in chapter 14.

Chapter 16 starts with Meredith sitting at the bus stop:

“If at this stage you were to imagine the scene as being presented on the stretched-out oblong of the modern cinema screen it would be most interesting to visualize it through whatever is the opposite to a zoom lens; the retreating viewpoint, that is, soaring higher and higher like an escaped balloon, focused at the figure of Meredith huddled lonely and solitary on the mundane suburban bus seat…”

to the point where he is just an invisible speck amongst “the drab red expanses [of red tile and red brick and …cement and asphalt], now from our great altitude resembling a parched desert.”

16.1 Meredith

End of chapter 16

There’s something a bit overbearing, like an old-style newsreel voice over, about the second person address in this chapter, but I love how the fingernails come back into it.

One funny thing.  Johnston’s final home was in Raglan Street, Mosman – thinly disguised in the novel as Inkerman Street, “Northleigh.” I cannot imagine that I knew this before I looked it up in a biography of Johnston also salvaged from my father’s house, but as I read the book I already had a distinct picture in my mind of a street in Mosman and the bus stop where Meredith pauses. It wasn’t the exact street, but it was pretty close.

I think that I shall never see…

April 15, 2017

P1110935

IMG_0354.JPG

Spring in Sydney

October 22, 2016

This year, Spring sprang right on time: 1 September was distinctly balmy.

After that, I went away – to Albany, WA, where my maternal aunt had died suddenly.  Only a few blossoms were braving it there against a generally wet and windy outlook.  Seasonally speaking and indeed in other respects it felt like a trip back in time.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed the following seasonal harbingers around our place:

  1. The channel-billed cuckoo – websites say they are supposed to reach Sydney in mid-September, but this year I first heard them in early October;
  2. Koels – this year, the CBC beat them here;
  3. Star-jasmine – hedges in neighbouring houses were pregnant with buds, then all of a sudden, they all burst forth. The common jasmine is sweeter but the nutmeg-like star jasmine (actually a jasminoid) is intoxicating;
  4. JACARANDA! – I’d had my head down last weekend and this week for a trial; on Friday I looked out of the train window on the way into town and realised that they’d snuck up on me.

I’ve always liked seasonal returns.  As I experience more of them, they have a cumulative reminiscent affect. Now I’m beginning to sense a glass-half-full-half-empty tipping point: how many more of these have I to go?

I suppose it’s partly the passing of my father and my aunt this year which fuels such thoughts.  Then on Friday morning I read a surprisingly upbeat final letter (a note, really) which had been admitted to probate as the informal will of its author, aged 35.