Following an erratic interruption of almost two weeks I am back online. I won’t go into the details but, fingers crossed, I hope to be online for a while. I still don’t really understand why my website had problems, but it has made me very sceptical about the reliability of it all.
Whilst the internet is an asset in many respects, it has changed the way we live, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.
I know that communication is less frequent now because people expect me to be on Facebook with pretty pictures of my cat or dog. I also know that I can’t expect phone calls from people. Now it’s texting. And what pleasure is there in that? It’s like semaphores and smoke signals. Hard to have a real conversation nowadays without somebody fingering a phone.
No wonder I become nostalgic as I caress my Montblanc fountain pen and remember the letters we wrote together. But then who has the oportunity to express oneself in depth nowadays when everything has to be encapsulated into 140 characters?
Since Friday of last week there have been some problems with my website. I have been trying to find out what the problem is from my web host, but so far, no luck. So my apologies to those people who follow this blog.
There is something wrong in a society which demands that you explain why you don’t drink alcohol. This is the case in Australia, unfortunately.
It has been the case ever since we came to Australia in 1951. If you didn’t drink then you had better explain yourself. Are you ill, or are you an alcoholic, perhaps? Do you follow some strange religion which forbids you from touching a drop?
You were made to feel uncomfortable and unsociable if you said, “I don’t drink.”
Every occasion was accompanied by drinking alcohol. In fact, if you weren’t allowed to drink then you wouldn’t be able to enjoy watching sport or weddings or graduations or births or even wakes. Shades of Ireland really.
It was and still is the Aussie way of life. Friday night is for “getting pissed” as it is called and a hangover is proof that you had a good time, even if you hardly remember it yourself.
What has struck me since arriving in Melbourne is the number of liquor outlets in every suburb here. There are people drinking in the morning by themselves in many coffee lounges. The solitary drinkers ore often lonely women of a certain age.
What exacerbates the problem is that many of these people are driving after they drink. And to make matters worse, we have a big drug problem in Melbourne. It is cause for concern when you don’t know who is driving in front of you. We have been advised not to look at drivers if we drive alongside them on the road. Who knows what they are on?
The drivers here are very aggressive, competitive and rather frightening. They are obsessed with playing with their phones as they drive and even women have been caught under the influence when they try to park outside a school to pick up their children.
I did comment once in a previous blog that the most polite drivers I have ever encountered are Texans.
I really cannot understand why Melbourne is supposed to be “the most livable city in the world”. For druggies and alcoholics, maybe…
I like to get good value for money, no matter what I buy. It’s not pleasant when you feel you have been taken for a ride and that’s how we felt when we went to Bagelicious this morning.
We only went for a snack, a bagel and coffee, and I was pleased that they were advertising in large letters a morning special of coffee and a bagel for $5.
This sounded pretty reasonable since many eateries have morning specials. These special offers usually end around 11 am so we assumed this place was doing the same. To our surprise we were charged an exorbitant price for a bagel and coffee. Apparently, the special offer ended at 10 am and we were there about 11 am.
So I asked the staff why we were not warned about the time the special ended. “It’s there” they said. I peered at the picture of a bagel and coffee and the special offer of $5. “There” they repeated as they pointed to a tiny disclaimer-size line at the very bottom of the ad. It was almost invisible and was obviously in need of magnification.
We paid quite a lot for our measly snack. The seats are uncomfortable and there is no atmosphere in the place, but I could see that when we entered. After all, we only wanted a quick snack and that would have been okay if we didn’t feel so cheated.
So be careful if you go to Bagelicious and please read the very fine print before ordering.
It is hard to believe that the public servants in charge of Melbourne’s transport system are allowed to run free to ruin our lives.
Since The Intergenerational Report has been released by our government we have been informed that our population is aging.
This is an important report because it will help provide for the needs of a changing demographic.
One assumes, therefore, that the Victorian government is going to encourage the use of public transport which will inevitably be more in demand as the population ages.
So what have the brightsparks announced to ease the overcrowding on our trains and trams?
Those who run “the world’s most livable city” are going to remove seats from our trains and trams so that there will be more standing room. In other words, the result will be “cattle trucks”.
How that should prepare the city for an aging population who already find it hard enough to locate an empty seat in one of those contraptions is a mystery to me.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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