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Lesley Gore made me cry today

Author: Lili Gans
February 17 2015

Lesley Gore died today. Her song “You don’t own me” (1963) meant a lot to me and to my generation. It was a cry for independence and in a way it was one of the earliest declarations of feminism. “I am woman”(1975) came a long time after Gore’s beautiful plea not to be treated as a silly little thing.

Who can forget Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn performing the song at the end of the film, “The First Wives Club”?

It was a tour de force!

RIP Leslie, you sang for us young women in the Sixties.


What is this world coming to? Is there no end to the demands made on teachers? As Kurtz in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” exclaimed as he lay dying, “Oh the horror, the horror”.

It’s too much to bear!

So what am I going on about, you may possibly ask.

Well, it looks as if “the federal government is going to make all new graduate primary and secondary teachers prove they are capable of teaching maths and English by undertaking a mandatory new competency test from 2016.” (Herald Sun)

In other words, teachers will have to demonstrate that they can read and write and count before they are let loose on the students at school. As I said, “Oh the horror.”

Call me a cynic, but I am looking forward to the protests by the Teachers’ Union. Imagine expecting a teacher to be familiar with literacy and numeracy. It’s the thin edge of the wedge, I fear.

This sort of expectation can only lead to more problems.

Will teachers have to prove that they can actually impart knowledge, motivate students and stimulate their minds?

This sounds too much like education to me and I can’t imagine that the Teachers’ Union will allow this sort of thing to eventuate. After all, what will happen to the thousands of teachers who are employed in the system right now? Will they have to face an audit of their qualification to develop the minds of our children?

If this kind of discrimination against useless teachers is allowed to occur then surely there will be a scarcity of teachers!


Thank you, Australia

Author: Lili Gans
January 26 2015

Today is Australia Day, a day which will not be celebrated by demonstrations of military might. Tanks, missiles etc will not be shown off as they are in the rest of the world. There will be no messages declaring “We are the greatest, so watch out!”

Instead, friends and families will gather to enjoy a picnic and barbeque or watch the Aussie Open Tennis or the soccer. In other words, they will celebrate what is wonderful about this country of ours.

You see, Aussies don’t need to boast to make themselves feel better about living here. They know in their hearts that Australia is a fair-minded and decent country which has no delusions of grandeur.

Believe me, I should know. I have lived in the Soviet Union, in Siberia, in Poland, in a Displaced Persons’ Camp in Germany as well as several years in France.

I came here as a Displaced Person following World War II.

After the war, my family decided that they wanted to get away from Europe, the further away the better. We were told about a country at the other end of the world, where sheep wandered in the streets. It was called Australia and we knew absolutely nothing about it.

So we applied for visas to come either to Australia or South America. The visa for Australia arrived first and so we accepted it gratefully.

How lucky is that!

Life is mainly about luck and chance. I used to think that it was about hard work and perseverance, but honestly, without luck there is nothing. I know of people who have been extremely hard-working but have had bad luck through no fault of their own, so as I have grown older I have realised that life is mostly about good luck and bad luck.

And it was good luck that the visa to Australia turned up first.

Yes, it was hard to come to a country without a penny in the world, without being able to speak English, but Australia has been kind to us. If one is prepared to study and work hard then one can have a wonderful life here. And with a dose of good luck one can celebrate Australia Day with deep gratitude.

So I wish you all a very Happy Australia Day and Thank You for giving us a chance at life once more.


January 20 2015

I have resisted expressing my disappointment in “the world’s most liveable city” but today was the catalyst for writing the truth about how I honestly feel about Melbourne.

First of all, let me emphasise that I came to Melbourne full of hope and I have no intention of leaving it, but I am sadly disillusioned about the place.

Let me tell you why.


During World War II my Auntie Olga who was living in Paris had to change her name to “Simone” and pretend to be Christian instead of Jewish.

Why?

Because she was terrified of the French handing her over to the Nazis. There were many collaborators in France who were not friends of the Jews. These Jews had been loyal Frenchmen and women who discovered that, alas, France was not the country of liberty, equality and fraternity.

This sentiment accounts for the many attacks on French Jews prior to the latest murders yesterday.

The problem lies in the fact that France has been prepared to appease Muslim terrorism until the Charlie Hebdo atrocity. Whether it is out of fear of its 10% Muslim population or whether previously it was only a problem for the Jewish community, it is only when the Media itself was attacked that France began to protest against the monstrous attack perpetrated by three or four of its own Muslims.

Freedom of expression was at stake here and this is one of the treasured values of democracy.

But I am sure that Emile Zola would also ask about the freedom to live in safety without being murdered for being a Jew.

Disregard for the safety of the Jewish population and even anti-Semitism are not new concepts in France. My Auntie Olga learned this tragic fact a long time ago.

I am outraged at the executions by the Muslim terrorists. I weep for the staff at Charlie Hebdo, but I am not surprised. Neither is the long-suffering Jewish community in France.

The four Jews who were assassinated in the Kosher store are most likely to be buried in Israel where I am sure they will receive a kinder welcome.


January 7 2015

You are about to eat a meal. So do you reach for a knife and fork, a spoon or chopsticks? No way!


This week I bought a bottle of Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew Eau de Parfum in David Jones. I sprayed it on and smiled. This perfume was exactly as I remembered Youth Dew to be.

Quite a different result from the one a fortnight earlier when I bought a bottle of Youth Dew in Chemist Warehouse, a discount pharmacy with many stores. They are especially noted for selling perfumes at incredibly discounted prices of up to 85% off big brand fragrances.

The perfume I bought from them had little fragrance and was nothing like the Youth Dew that I had always loved.

This was not the first time that I had been disappointed with a perfume from Chemist Warehouse and thought it was about time that I questioned the quality of their product. So I decided to return the perfume to the Chemist Warehouse store which had sold it to me.

Little did I expect to have so much trouble returning a product! The salesgirl told me she had no authority to refund my money and so the manager was called. He assured me that the perfume was genuine; that his company was the biggest perfume retailer in Australia and that it sources its supplies directly from Estee Lauder.

I asked him if it could be old stock etc. and he said “definitely not” and that he would phone Estee Lauder directly for some confirmation if I was prepared to wait.

I told him to go ahead.

He returned after a while and repeated the mantra. By now, I remained unconvinced and so he finally agreed that he would refund the money.

It was quite an uncomfortable experience which left a bad taste in my mouth and a niggling suspicion.

Following my subsequent purchase of Youth Dew from David Jones my suspicions became stronger.

My next step was to phone the Head Office of Estee Lauder in Sydney and ask them if they supplied Chemist Warehouse.

Unsurprisingly, they said “No” and that Chemist Warehouses’ suppliers are resellers of recycled stock or remainder. This means that the stock could be old or fake, or, if you are very lucky, still good.

But according to Estee Lauder, Chemist Warehouse are not an authorised retailer for them and therefore the perfumes sold there cannot be guaranteed to be genuine.

In my opinion, it is not only the customer who may become a victim of such unethical practice but Estee Lauder and other reputable perfume manufacturers who would be unfairly blamed for producing inferior products.

So if you shop at Chemist Warehouse for your perfumes it’s a lottery. You may get a bargain or you may get a dud. Good luck but caveat emptor!


Phillip Hughes: What happened?

Author: Lili Gans
December 6 2014

Tina Turner sang “We don’t need another hero” but events this past fortnight tell us she was wrong.

Society needs heroes, real or imaginary because we need someone to look up to, to venerate, to worship. It’s what makes our lives have some meaning.

And we will latch onto any event or any person who can provide us with an idol. If that idol meets with an untimely death then we will feel a common grief and the entire tragedy becomes some kind of cathartic expression.

We witnessed this kind of behaviour when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident. There was an outbreak of mass hysteria which even the Queen could not understand. Hence her initial lack of response.

It appears to me that the accidental death of cricketer Phillip Hughes and the reaction of the public are evidence that we enjoy a good cry. It brings us together and we feel better for it.

There is no question that Phillip was a popular and talented cricketer who died far too soon.

But the reaction of the public which was fuelled by the media was way over the top. It is frightening to think how we can all be manipulated by constant images of grown men crying. This was the media milking the accident for all it was worth and I felt uncomfortable with it.

I feel particularly sad for the bowler whose bouncing delivery caused the accident. How can he possibly cope with this outpouring of grief? How can he live a normal life after this event? Won’t he be tormented by guilt for the rest of his life?

We should get some perspective on the subject, but that is impossible when we are at the mercy of a rapacious sensation-seeking media.

We should offer our condolences to Phillip Hughes’ family and hope that he can rest in peace.


November 22 2014

Australia is under the misapprehension that it can protect and care for its citizens even if these citizens don’t appreciate the effort. In fact, they bite the hand that feeds them. Well-meaning and politically correct Aussies are deluded when they believe that they can do some good for their “fellow man”.

It is true that the less fortunate require assistance but that assistance has to be welcomed and treated seriously.

Let’s face it, very few people appreciate a hand-out and this was exactly the case today when we went to a shopping centre.

A man sat down beside us. He had obviously not been shopping, nor was he eating lunch. Instead, he sidled up close to us, showed us a food voucher for Woolworths and told us that it was worth $25 but that he would sell it to us for $20.

The voucher was one that is handed out by charities and the government to ensure that the dole is not wasted on gambling, drugs and alcohol. This man was keen to swap food for whatever he wanted instead.

Is this a good method of teaching the needy to shop responsibly? Or does this make a mockery of the system? After all, you can’t force people to act responsibly if they are determined to abuse the nanny state.

I bet someone will buy the food voucher from him and how ironic is that?

As they say, no good deed goes unpunished


November 20 2014

It is with much regret that we have decided to stop shopping at Costco.

You see, the products currently sold at Costco in Melbourne, Australia, have gone downmarket and no longer tempt us to buy them.

I am not questioning Costco’s marketing ability. They cater to the demographic which will buy their products. Consequently, there are many huge bags of rice, lots of sweets and potato chips, cans of spaghetti and baked beans, alcohol, and foods with an Asian appeal such as frozen wontons etc.

Gone are the American imports which attracted us and the Continental delicacies which we enjoyed buying.

The change in products has been a gradual one. The original Caesar dressing disappeared, dill pickles were hard to find and even a well-known American jar of mixed bean salad is now unavailable.

Apparently, these kind of foods were not attracting enough buyers and so they were replaced with very mundane products that were obviously better sellers.

I was a fan of Kirkland’s own brand of products but they seem to have been replaced as well. This is unfortunate because many of the Costco offerings can now be purchased in our local Australian supermarkets.

I find that Aldi sells quite a few of the continental products that were originally in Costco when it first opened.

Such is the way of the world. My husband enjoyed the arancini he used to buy at Costco but they also went missing the last two times we trekked to the city to buy them.

What a pity this has happened! It was great while it lasted and we used to look forward to our regular visits there. But the selection no longer attracts us and we hope that another supermarket chain will provide the tasty titbits that we can no longer find at Costco.


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