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The Motherland

 

The need to continually justify the colony's early existence in London became part of its character and from 1788 until the early 1970s Australia spent a great deal of time trying to stop mummy forcing her to leave home.  Bob Menzies was still getting his washing done at home until his death as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports; and he 'did but see her passing by' , referring to good Queen Bess II and 'loved her till he died'.  Contrary to popular belief today, when we hear 'we fought under our flag in two world wars', Australia still used the Union Jack as our National flag until 1954, when the current flag became the official one, thanks to the Queen's visit and the need for a gracious act.  This is clearly seen in old newsreels.   My high school was the repository of the Changi Flag framed in the School Hall.  It was made by Australian prisoners of war in Singapore around 1943.  It is a Union Jack.

Australians still carried British Passports until 1949 and the word British was not completely removed from Australian passports until 1967. God Save the Queen  was our National Anthem until 1974.  Even the reformer, Gough Whitlam, never stopped referring to his old school masters in the 'Old Dart'; how should one pronounce kilometre?  We are probably the most reluctant independent Nation in history.  When I was a child our elderly neighbour always spoke of 'home', meaning England, even though she was second or third generation Australian. 

This self imposed sycophancy towards the Mother country, juxtaposed with the egalitarian sentiments of convicts made good, defined the Australian character for much of my childhood.   Intellectuals and artists had to be recognised in London; the 'cultural cringe' became a term of self abuse; we were constantly seeking the approval of the world in general; we wanted to emulate Americans; we built the biggest this and best of that, or so we told ourselves while in our hearts doubting it all the time; we had to excel in every sporting endeavour, culminating in 'the best Olympics ever'.  At the same time we doubted the credentials of our high achievers and were constantly on the lookout for a chink in their reputation.

 

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Travel

Bali

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of February 2016 Wendy and I took a package deal to visit Bali.  These days almost everyone knows that Bali is a smallish island off the east tip of Java in the Southern Indonesian archipelago, just south of the equator.  Longitudinally it's just to the west of Perth, not a huge distance from Darwin.  The whole Island chain is highly actively volcanic with regular eruptions that quite frequently disrupt air traffic. Bali is well watered, volcanic, fertile and very warm year round, with seasons defined by the amount of rain.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Bonfire (Cracker) Night

 

 

We children were almost overcome with excitement.  There had been months of preparation.  Tree lopping and hedge trimmings had been saved; old newspapers and magazines stacked into fruit boxes; a couple of old tyres had been kept; and the long dangerously spiky lower fronds from the palm trees were neatly stacked; all in preparation. 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Syria - again

 

A fortnight ago I was moved to suggest that it was possible that the alleged gas attack in Syria might not be the work of the Syrian Army.  I withdrew the posting when more convincing evidence of Army involvement became available.

Because of our visit to Syria took place just before the most recent troubles began, I have been, perhaps, more interested than most.  I wanted to know why Syria is automatically assumed to be guilty when there are some very nasty groups on the other side?

We are fed so much doctored information, spin, that it is hard to get the facts even when we are directly involved.

So to claim that I know what is actually going on in Syria is fanciful.  Assad vehemently denies responsibility; the Russians are doubtful; and the inspectors have not yet reported.  But the certainty, and aggressive language, of the Western leaders accusing Syria of this latest incident seem extraordinary - do they know something that they are not revealing publicly?

As I have explained elsewhere I have fond memories of Damascus and of Syria in general.  Damascus was the most pleasant and interesting of the cities we stayed in; lacking the extremes of poverty and wealth we saw in Cairo (and in Egypt in general) or the more western normality of Amman in Jordan. 

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