Sunday, August 24, 2014

What a Wonderful World

But I do know, one and one is two
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be - "Wonderful World", Sam Cooke 1960
I hear babies cryin'.
I watch them grow.
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world - "What a Wonderful World", Thiele and Weiss 1967
Child Being Tagged by OZ Immigration
Photo courtesy Asylum Seeker Resource Center
In the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali, children are named according to their birth order. The firstborn is "Wayan", the second is "Made" pronounced Marday, the third is "Nyoman", and the fourth is "Ketut". And if a couple has more than four children, well they just start again from the beginning.

I used to vacation at Bali in the 1980s, and remember a German couple, commenting to a Balinese woman who was explaining the practice,  "We don't give our children numbers in Germany."

Back in Melbourne I related the Germans' comment to my mother, who answered in her typical caustic style, "Oh really? Haven't they heard of Auschwitch?" Sitting in her North Brighton flat, we sneered at the sneering German couple.

My mother has long "gone to god", and I am glad she didn't live to see the day when the Australian government started to "number" children. Dehumanizing them. Locking them up.

In its paranoia about a few hundred "boat children" - refugees mainly from Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan- the Australian  government has a policy of not allowing asylum seekers even to step foot on mainland Australian soil.

After  horrific journeys across the Indian Ocean,  the over-crowded and unsafe ships carrying them are intercepted. The would-be immigrants are tagged,  numbered and "processed" off-shore.  Sent off to camps.

Down Town Manhattan,  May Day 2010
Less than 20,000 "boat people" arrive in Australia every year (Ten myths around asylum seekers arriving on boats in Australian waters ).  Less than a quarter of the audience capacity at Melbourne's main sporting venue, the MCG

Of course the majority of  Australia's "illegal immigrants" are white, European and arrive by plane.

In America we refer refugees who haven't been "processed" as "undocumented immigrants". In many states undocumented immigrants are able to  hold drivers' licenses, attend university, get jobs.

In 2010 there was a furor when the State of Arizona passed a bill allowing police to ask people for their papers if they suspected them of being illegal immigrants. 

After the "Reform Immigration" demo, NYC May 2010
I went along to the New York City demo protesting the Arizona bill. I think there were more people demonstrating across America, than the total of "boat people" trying to get into Australia in one year.

Ironically, modern-day Australia was founded by "boat people". They came from the United Kingdom and they booted out or murdered the indigenous inhabitants.  At first most arrivals were criminals, and later there were economic refugees from rural England and Ireland.  So soon we humans forget...

I know many Australians object to the new boat people who live in detention centres off-shore - yes the Australian government outsources detention centers - as queue jumpers.

I have only one thing to say to such people.

What bloody queue?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Basket Case

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking
Now heaven knows,
anything goes - from "Anything Goes", Cole Porter 1934

Watch a horror movie right there on my TV
Horror movie right there on my TV
Horror movie right there on my TV
Shockin' me right out of my brain
Shockin' me right out of my brain - from "Horror Movie", Skyhook 1975

The MacRob Girl
In the olden days when I was a young girl in Australia, I was a goodie-goodie. Otherwise known as a "conch" - an Aussie slang term (derogatory) of the time - short I suppose for conscientious.

Me and my friend Di spent our free time studying, or singing in Latin  in the school choir. When there were interschool sporting events that we were forced to attend, we didn't jump up and scream for our team to win.

We sat around looking bored.

We were pre-cool.

We didn't socialize with the girls who went out with boys, or with the ones who hid true romance novels under their desks.

Instead we worshiped Audrey Hepburn, high marks, and read all our Stendhal in French.

We were always quiet and attentive in class. Sat up straight. Good girls.

We were, I suspect, quite obnoxious.

And so it was with some surprise, a hundred years later, that I discovered that I was, deep down, a "naughty girl". No conch. Au contraire - a born-again brat. A bad influence. A juvenile delinquent.

An outcast, I have been thrown out of, of all things - a knitting club! Expelled, unceremoniously, with no explanation, no right of reply. Done!

Of course it wasn't a real knitting club. It was a virtual one. On Facebook. But I did knit. And with real wool.

I am not quite sure why I was cast off so to speak. I THINK it had something to do with me posting that I had come across some ambiguous instructions in a Canadian knitting pattern and what did people think?  Was it my referencing the nationality of the pattern designer? Or was it the use of the word "ambiguous"? I suppose I will never know.

What I HAVE learnt however, is what it feels like to be "IN TROUBLE"! Write down one hundred times, "I will not criticize pattern instructions." Off to the head mistress's office. Detention for a week.

I cast my mind back to those halcyon days at Mac.Robertson Girls' High School. Me and Di, sneering at those lesser beings - the sporty girls playing womens' rugby, or the flirty ones tissying-up  their hair for Saturday night's rock dance at the Malvern Town Hall. Comparing our test scores, each of us trying to outdo the other.

Maybe, just maybe, all that time there was a bad girl trying to get out. And all it took was a bunch of knitting ladies and a Canadian knitting pattern.

Meanwhile I must put in a plug for a friend, Daniel Armstrong, of Australia's Strongman Pictures, who, showing great foresight, chose - even BEFORE I was kicked out of the knitting club, to set his next horror movie in ... a knitting club.

Watch out for it!!! After all, it comes strongly recommended by an ex MacRob girl!