You left

I’m lost – you left me – 
why did you pass me by
I need your leadership
your love – your sense that
yes, it’s worth a try

Like a tree – standing taller
you lift my sense of being
why did you go
I need you so
you are my fallen beam

A captain for a few years
but a soldier many more
and devoted to a family
at times seen as a chore

Yet your children become leaders
your wife of three score and ten – the sky
go – she is a-waiting
as I shed tears you rise and fly

Vale George H W Bush

out of many

Because one said so

is it true

who else says it’s so –

do you

 

because one warrants

you agreed

who else will agree

with thee

 

because one stands tall

do you stand too

does anyone else stand tall

with you

 

out of many, one –

(e pluribus unum) –

thirteen letters

scattered some

 

emblazoned seal

in eagle’s beak

diversified –

it’s you one seeks

to be one day

 

though many tried –

 

it’s you the one

most deified.

The religion of football

Religion comes in many forms – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism – and then there is football. September is finals time for Australian Rules Football (AFL) and it is at this time of the year that this religion comes into its own, for it is a time all football fans celebrate the essence of togetherness, the discipline that football teaches.

AFL is followed by more fans than any other sport in Australia. It is the primary game we play in winter, and was originally derived by cricketers who wanted to play a sport that would keep them fit in the off-season. The people flocked to the game and it became the greatest of all spectator sports.

It attracted young men with a future that seemed all but lost before football came to town

Yet what type of spectator did this new-found game attract? It was the kind of game that gave young men a chance to pick themselves up from the ashes of unemployment and wealthy businessmen the ability to provide those young men with a future that seemed all but lost before football came to town.

It gave ordinary folk the chance to come to the game, sit in the pricey seats or stand in the standing-room only area, paying little to mix with those from a different background.

And there’s the rub.

AFL is a game that does not recognise colour or creed

AFL is a game, even today, especially today, that does not recognise colour or creed. It does not care whether you are black, brown, yellow or white. It has no concern whether you come from the rough  end of the sticks or the wealthy suburbs.

And neither do the spectators. With standing room a thing of the past, there is nothing left (other than the corporate boxes) to divide the rich from the poor. There is as much of a chance that the man or woman, adult or child, sitting next to you could be your best friend as they could a perfect stranger or an enemy in business, They may come from the other part of town, or a different town altogether. They could as well be a merchant banker as they could a carpenter, a retailer or a teacher. The child sitting in front of you could as well be educated in the public school system as he could the most toffee-nosed private school in suburban Melbourne.

These players have names like Christian Petracca, Travis Varcoe, Lin Jong, Mason Cox and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. They come from many and varied backgrounds, like the spectators watching their every move

Looking out to the field, the 100,000 fans see the players, running up and down, kicking and chasing, hand-passing and following, marking and celebrating a goal. These players have names like Christian Petracca, Travis Varcoe, Lin Jong, Mason Cox and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. They come from many and varied backgrounds, like the spectators watching their every move.

Petracca’s heritage is Italian, Varcoe Indigenous Australian, Jong is part Taiwanese, part Timorese, Cox comes from the Unites States and McDonald-Tipungwuti is a Tiwi Islander. Yet they are all footballers, accepted and celebrated for their talent, ability and prowess.

The fans ring out a cheer. Their fanaticism for their team is exhilarating

The fans ring out a cheer. Their fanaticism for their team is exhilarating. They are what makes the game great. Instances abound of a full house of fans, standing, to respect a minutes silence for the fallen on ANZAC Day. Or for the national anthem. No-one kneels at the stadium that is the AFL.

Togetherness, understanding, tolerance, sportsmanship

Togetherness, understanding, tolerance, sportsmanship. This is what we worship in September.

May it always be thus.

 

NB: Go to AFL.com.au for more information on the beauty that is Australian Rules Football

Finals football at the ‘G’

The ‘G’. The ground that draws a crowd.

This is the time of the year when everyone’s attention turns to football – in Australia at least. In the US they broadcast the game we love and created at 3am when you are all in  bed sound asleep but there are a few of you I know who are ardent followers of our great game.

Australian Rules Football (AFL) started as a sideshow, for cricketers to play in the off-season to keep themselves fit for the summer. The game sprouted from its fledgling beginnings in and around the suburbs of Melbourne, our second largest city, and home of ‘Aussie Rules’.

To begin with there were two sides, one from Melbourne itself and another from a nearby town called Geelong. In those early days there was one thing that surprised more than anything else – the game’s popularity.

That was 1859.

This weekend, over 91,000 people turned out to watch those two clubs (Melbourne and Geelong) fight out a tough elimination final. The night before, over 91,000 people attended the other elimination final. The first time in the history of the game that over 90,000 people had attended finals matches back to back.

You have to experience the game to understand it and even then it’s best to throw the rule book away and simply watch the game that is the definition of entertainment with the pleasure and excitement it engenders in us all.

In the US, the Superbowl is played at various stadiums around the country. In Australia we play the Grand Final, as we call it, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – note the connection to cricket here, each and every year.

Superbowl XIV attracted 103,985 people to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the highest ever attended Superbowl. The 1970 AFL/VFL Grand Final between Collingwood and Carlton holds the record for any sporting event in terms of crowd attendance held anywhere in Australia. Today, the ground holds an official capacity of 100,024, so it’s unlikely this record will ever be broken.

The game was played between two of the ‘heavy-hitters in AFL history and at half-time it saw Collingwood ahead by 42 points. Game over.

Not so fast.

Carlton came back to win by 10 points. As explained by Wikipedia

Late in the last quarter, with Carlton leading by less than a goal, Alex Jesaulenko snatched the ball on the half forward line and sent a left foot kick bouncing towards goal. With no one guarding the goals, the ball bounced through for a goal, sealing the game for Carlton, [who] completed a recovery, to triumph by 10 points, 17.9 (111) to 14.17 (101).

That day, the MCG attracted 121,696 banner-waving, crowd-pleasing, cheering fans.

The ground has only ever seen one event surpass this in terms of crowd attendance and that was for a 1959 evangelical tour by the late Billy Graham when more than 130,000 people turned out to listen to the crowd-pleasing evangelist . One fellow, quoted by the ABC, in an article on ABC.net.au who was there that day, says;

I felt God speaking to me

So it took God himself to surpass a record that will never be broken. Go figure!

To experience the excitement of the last four minutes of that game, go to YouTube

And to finish, I must include my own experiences at AFL Grand Finals, having been twice, the most recent attendance being in 2010, on 25th September, when I was one of the 100,016 people that saw Collingwood and St.Kilda play out…

a draw!

A week later I was in hospital when the two teams went round again for a replay of the Grand Final to finally try and split them apart. And split them apart they did, with Collingwood victorious on a day when I was only semi-conscious.

Ahh, what a great game it is. I hope you get to experience it some day and enjoy a spectacle that is beyond words.

The rainbow nation

A different blog this weekend, folks.

As I assume most of you reading this are from outside of the great nation of Australia, I thought I’d tell you about the issue that seems to be taking over our TV screens, radio waves, newspapers, and, of course, social media.

It is same-sex marriage.

It seems a practical impossibility to have a mature debate about this issue. Currently, we are in the process of having the Australian Bureau of Statistics conduct a postal survey, whereby all registered voters receive a survey by mail (snail mail, that is) for them to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on whether they believe the Marriage Act should be changed to allow for same-sex marriage.

Let’s embrace all views with 

acceptance, tolerance and understanding

This is designed to give our politicians an indication as to whether the Australian people wish to introduce same-sex marriage into the community. Religious freedoms, legislation surrounding discrimination and how that is defined, and other related topics, have not, at this stage, been taken into account.

But the worst part about the debate is that it appears impossible for the media to report the news. Rather, they are centred on sensationalising (and, in some instances, falsifying) the truth. Go here  Fakenews to get a better idea of what I mean.

I only wonder whether Australia is mature enough to be having this debate here and now. Maybe it should have been put off until society at large can accept that different people have different ideas and beliefs. Those of you in America and elsewhere may not know that Cassie Jaye had major troubles when she came to Australia recently in getting a reasoned hearing from the media. This will tell you more about her experiences:- CassieJaye

And yet it appears there are moments that equate to a ‘coming-together’ of people, especially in times of crisis. Just look at the helping hand these people are giving each other in the course of Hurricane Harvey ahelpinghand.

And on the opposing end of the spectrum are violent protests. I’m not going to add a link here. There are too many to count and I’m sure you can find them for yourselves without any assistance from me.

I’m a big fan of peaceful protest – it’s one of our democratic rights. But in doing so, are adults adult enough to ensure protest does not turn violent?

Let’s embrace all views with acceptance, tolerance and understanding. Democracy was founded on the basis of freedom of thought. Let’s also honour the founders that worked hard to provide us with the open society we seem not to cherish.

We in the West would all be better off for it.

 

My first time

It happened. I’d heard people talk about it, in writing groups and elsewhere, but had never felt the emotion that overtakes when it happens to you.

The other day, a friend of mine rang me up and said; “Guess what? Your book isn’t in the book-store.”

“Of course not,” I replied. Patience, dear friend, patience.

“No, you don’t understand. I asked if they had it and they told me it had been sold.”

“Well are they going to get some more in?” I finally retorted.

But the feeling inside was one of wanting to jump out of my skin. My book? Sold? Like…wow!

I heard a story recently from another writer who told me that she went into a book-store not for one minute expecting to find her very own book on the bookshelves. But that’s exactly what happened. She picked it up, took it to the man behind the counter, and said;

“This is my book.”

And he replied;

“Not until you pay for it.”

There are many more stories very similar I could pass on, but the essence of the story is that no matter how many books you have published, the feeling of seeing your book on the shelves of a book-store will never fade.

It’s the passion we feel in actually writing the book that contributes to the sentiment we feel in seeing it bought. The process is a hard one, as I know only too well. But if it wasn’t hard, then why would we bother? And the old line never falters that hard work never hurt anyone. Besides, the harder it is, the better we feel.

So my first time is over. There’ll be a second – and a third. But I only wish I could have seen the expression on my face when my buddy called to tell me the good news. I guess the strength of feeling contributes to the quality of the manuscript. If we didn’t feel strongly we wouldn’t try hard. And if we didn’t try hard our chances of succeeding would be slim indeed.

If you wish to purchase my first publication, click here:-

http://www.zeus-publications.com/prism%20-%20an%20anthology.htm

NB: If outside of Australia, ‘Prism’ is available at all good on-line bookstores.

Publishing – the struggle

Been through quite an experience of late. Publishing poetry is no easy business. What’s best? Getting your poetry into a magazine or having a publisher tell you; “Welcome to the family.”

I’m yet to decide.

As so many say, one is the quick way to being published, the other the slow and onerous way. Nothing is done because it is easy, it is done because we have a passion to do it. Because what we have is some kind of a talent to write. And can there be anything better than the written word? A picture, a painting, perhaps? For as some say, a picture paints a thousand words. But what would Shakespeare have said about that? He’d be turning over in his grave, wouldn’t he? And how do we explain the painting if not with words?

So, you see, this may not be a well-paid profession but it is a passionate one – and as we all know, great things come from true love.

And so I’ve made a decision – this site will no longer be about poetry, per se, but the road we take to having our poetry read. The many facets that go into our day-to-day activities.

I’ll be writing about my writing groups, my published book of poetry, and my experiences over past and coming months. I’ll be interested in your feedback and comments as we traverse this road together. And remember, the road may well be rocky, but, my oh my, is it worth travelling. For as the saying goes;

A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn

I saw that on a coffee mug once and have never forgotten it. And another reason the travels to success or failure are so worthy is this – we should always concentrate our efforts on our own success, rather than on other’s failures. And so I leave you with a quote from probably the greatest President America has ever had, Abraham Lincoln, who once said;

Let not he who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him labour diligently to build one for himself

Happy travels!

The Sepulchre

The sepulchre of the sentiment

That stands beside the Seine

The green seeds of the linden tree

That captivate your name

 

Away, be gone, that sentiment

In place, another, quite unknown

A surreptitious sentiment

One rushes to disown

 

You have no place standing there

Where Charlie reigned supreme

There’s no welcome mat at my door

So stay away from me

 

My river greets those of like-mind

With a smile and a cry

For granted, take not what we have

To you, a lullaby

 

The sepulchre of the sentiment

Reminds, of those who won’t grow old

That surreptitious sentiment

Be gone – protect the fold

 

 

Postscript: In memory of all those innocent civilians who have died in terrorist acts of violence

With gritted teeth – the Australian Federal Election

“With gritted teeth.”

That’s how one Liberal Party member described the way voters should approach the ballot box on Polling Day. Come 2nd July and the voting public of Australia had other ideas. At time of writing, votes are still being counted in a number of seats. The final result will not be known until week’s end, at the earliest.

The Australian federal election has just been run. We don’t have anything like hanging chads, we just have a short piece of paper, a very long piece of paper, and a pencil. Once complete, our votes go into two separate ballot boxes that look like they’d break down at the first touch. But they don’t. The system works. The volunteers do a sterling job. And democracy is the sure winner.

Malcolm Turnbull, who took over the leadership of the Liberal Party in a leadership spill nine months earlier, could have been described as over-confident in his exuberance on Polling Day. It seemed clear to him, in particular, but to all and sundry, in general, that the government would be returned, some said with a small majority, others thought comfortably.

Everyone was proved wrong.

Neither major party was able to get more than forty-one percent of the primary vote. Put the major parties together and they only obtained a little over seventy-five percent of the vote. The voting public thought both parties were ‘on the nose,’ devoid of leadership ability, not speaking to them, speaking over them.

The Prime Minister was referred to as ‘The Great Communicator,’ a term used often to describe Ronald Reagan. This election proved him to be ‘The Great Ex-Communicator.’ The look on his face in the early hours of Sunday morning as he faced his supporters from behind the lectern was one of anger, frustration, and contempt for what had just happened. It looked like he thought the people of Australia did not appreciate what he had done for them, did not appreciate his great leadership skills.

It took him the better part of three days to deliver the speech he should have delivered on election night, his ‘mea culpa’ speech. The volunteers were not recognised, his opponents were not recognised, and the members of his party that had just lost their seat to a minor-party backlash were not mentioned. Words used to describe the speech included ‘lousy,’ ‘pathetic,’ and others unable to be printed here.

The question on everyone’s lips was; ‘why?’

There was clearly a conservative ‘revolt’ against the Prime Minister’s leadership. Mr. Turnbull comes from the ‘moderate’ faction of the party and his ability to disenchant those on the right began with his leadership spill of Tony Abbott, the former Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister. From the same party but opposing factions, their views were differing in many ways – on issues such as the republic, gay marriage, even whether or not Australia was ‘invaded’ or ‘colonised.’

The attitude of the moderates, though, was that the conservatives could not vote for a minor party, they could not vote for the Labor Party, a union-backed political organisation as old as Federation. In fact, in their view, they had no-where to go.

The abrasiveness of this attitude was clear for all to see. And the fact was it was foolish, for the disaffected conservatives did have somewhere to go – from One Nation to Family First to the Christian Democrats to the Liberal Democrats to the Australian Liberty Alliance – take your pick.

And, in fact, this was proved to be the case as the numbers were counted and the votes started coming in. In 1951, 2.5 percent of the voting public voted for minor parties. By 1975, the figure was 7.5 percent. With eighty percent of the vote counted, in 2016 the percentage was 23.2. Over the last four federal elections, those voting for minor parties had risen from fourteen percent to eighteen percent to twenty-one percent to almost one-quarter of all votes tallied.

I call that a trend, and a significant trend at that. But do those voters believe that the major parties are not for them or have they just ‘parked’ their vote there until they like what they hear – from the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, and so on?

In Australia this week many commentators are saying that the major parties and their leaders have lost touch with their voter base, they are arrogant, over-confident, speak down to the voters, question decisions made at the ballot box, and have an inability to discuss real issues, from job security to pension entitlements, from securing our defences to gay marriage, from freedom to associate to securing our borders against potential terror threats.

Enter Donald Trump. Enter Brexit. Enter Pauline Hanson.

Ms. Hanson is back in the Senate after an eighteen year hiatus. Back then she was well known for her declaration that ‘Australia is being swamped by Asians.” Now she wants a Royal Commission into Islam. But she speaks a lot of sense. Even sitting, watching her on talk shows this past few days I’ve caught myself nodding my head as she speaks about job security, about climate change, about the Coalition being the best party to lead this country to economic health and well-being.

In essence, people like Ms. Hanson say what a lot of people out there are thinking. She’s just got the guts to stand for public office. That’s democracy!

Couple that with commentators descriptions of major parties as tired, unrepresentative, with little idea what they stand for, no understanding of what they really offer the voting public, plus the regular infighting the major parties carry on with, and how can one be surprised at the ascendancy of minor parties as a way for voters to express their displeasure?

In Australia over the past four and a half years we have had five Prime Ministers; Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd (again), Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. This seems to reflect an ‘Europeanisation’ of Australian federal politics. Is it here to stay?

I think not. What is required is a leader who can speak to the people, not above them, who sees themself as first among equals, who can speak the language of the voting public and understand most people aspire to something better than what they have, are ‘aspirational voters,’ and look to their leaders to articulate their vision for the future.

Personally, I’d like to see a return to the core values we hold dear, the values that were centripetal in the creation of our Federation; to aspire to improve our ‘lot,’ hard-work, a ‘fair go,’ a ‘hand-up’ not a ‘hand-out,’ and a freedom to pursue our interests without intervention.

Smaller government may be a stretch too far but certainly a more efficient government, and a quieter one. Ideally, we could benefit from a government that stands back and allows the people, the voting public, to take the lead in their own lives, incurring praise when warranted and interjection by the powers-that-be when needed. A government that believes it is their role to govern by the rule of law but not to moralise or to lecture.

A return to a philosophical base would be a fresh start for politics in this country. We need to give the people a clear choice, a clear vision, so they can go to the ballot box with a smile rather than gritted teeth, showing their pearly whites rather than their frustrations.

Are we up for the challenge?

 

first published on https://mytrendingstories.com

Freedom – where did you go?

I woke up this morning on this bright and sunny day to read commentary in the morning paper about the term ‘guys.’ Apparently the Australian of the Year, David Morrison, found it within himself to announce his abhorrence at its use.

‘Those guys just weren’t up to it today,’

‘What’s that guy playing at?’

‘Thanks guys,’

These and other phrases like them are supposed to cause offence to women. The word ‘guys’ is seen by Morrison to be gender-specific. But relief is at hand – he tells us he’s not trying to be the ‘language police.’ Oh, no. He’s just trying to police language. Thank heavens we have someone to save us from ourselves.

Seems it’s a common thing these days, the ‘Nanny State Mentality.’

‘Nanny’ comes out to tell us off every other day. But Morrison isn’t alone amongst those who feel they need to tell the silent majority how to act, speak, and live.

In New South Wales, we have no right to silence, you see. So forget all those crime shows on TV where, once arrested, the alleged crim is told; ‘You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…’ So much for not incriminating yourself!

At least in Queensland, I still have my right to silence. ‘Shhh – keep quiet, and get a lawyer – fast.’

Mind you, if you like motorbikes, don’t join a ‘group’ of ‘bikies’ – you might end up in jail. See, if you’re a member of a bikie gang, and an honest, law-abiding citizen, you could be arrested for associating with other bikie gang members. Anti-association laws are designed to enforce tough penalties on those alleged to be responsible for the vast majority of drug offences.

Yet the Brisbane Times has said that;

Despite police claims of bikies being major players in the drug market, six years of data show they were charged with less than 1 per cent of all drug-trafficking offences in Queensland.

Back down south and we have lockout laws, designed to counter drug and alcohol-fuelled violence in inner city areas, with last drinks at 1.30 and take-away closures at 10pm.

What’s the result of the lockout laws? Assaults have fallen. Yay, success!

Oops – not so fast. You see, as the Director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics, Don Weatherburn, was quoted as saying on guardian.com;

…assaults have been coming down in NSW since 2008 [well before the lockout laws were enforced], so [there was already a] pre-existing downward trend.

So, it seems, Nanny is alive and well across the eastern seaboard of Australia.

We’re constantly told that we need assistance and guidance in how to live our lives. The government knows best and passes legislation to protect us from ourselves.

Sound silly?

Consider nutritionists advice on diets, ‘junk’ food, exercise and alcohol.

The Obesity Policy Coalition is lobbying for a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, the Australian Medical Association thinks Australians need a tax on ‘junk food.’ And some even believe we should introduce a tax on butter, cheese, milk, meat and oil.

The Rudd federal government increased taxation on pre-mixed drinks by 70 per cent, calling it an ‘Alcopop tax’ – according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, all this led to was a 20 per cent increase in the consumption of pure spirits. Case closed.

Sensationalists tell us almost every day that Australians have an obesity crisis, and that we drink to excess. This would certainly be true for some. But do we really need Nanny telling, commanding, ordering us to do things a certain way, their way? Each to their own, I say. Just don’t harm me in the process. In a free society we should be given the right to be the master of our own fate.

Classical liberalism has been superseded by social liberalism – defined as regulatory fixes for non-existent problems, or, to put it another way, the movement of society to a leftist philosophy.

Sit back, relax and enjoy – you no longer have to think for yourself. Government is now required to think for you.

This was put forward in the days of FDR and The New Deal, a program for its time. Yes, we need to ensure that no member of society falls through the cracks, yes, we need to ensure that everyone is protected from harm, but we also need to be very careful not to lecture to each other. And most of all, we need to ensure that government does not lecture to us.

In essence, it seems, in this society of ours, one of the finest democracies the world over, we are taking our freedoms for granted.

We legislate against speech, against information, against association, against choice. These are all implied freedoms in Australia, which makes them all the more contentious.

Even the Racial Discrimination Act tells us we cannot say anything which may offend. At least we have lobby groups like the Institute for Public Affairs to contend such laws. They say, at freespeech.ipa.org.au, that Section 18C of the Act;

…goes to the heart of this new anti-free speech climate…It is this section of the legislation which silenced [a journalist]. And it could silence you.

As the classical liberal, Edmund Burke, said

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

It’s time for Nanny to rest, for PC to go home, and for freedom to reign over all.