Faith

I was thinking about the meaning of life today , as you do , and after I read a bit on it by Mr Google I was soon out of my depth and thoroughly confused with the words of professors and philosophers on the subject , but I read enough to see faith is a large part of it all.  However I was seeking a simple answer without getting into big words and heavy religion. I went on with my day choosing to keep it on the back shelf and just see what came to me.

Not long after this I noticed I was down to one toilet roll and eventually headed off to the corner shop to remedy that situation. I asked  my friend the laconic storekeeper, if he had any good deals on toilet paper. He said as we walked toward it, he had twelve rolls for $8, but he added, pointing to a large bundle this is a sixteen roll deal for $7.50. I asked if he believed they  were good quality and  wouldn’t  scratch or tear ? He assured me they were three ply and would be Ok.  Consequently I opted for  the sixteen roll deal.

When I got home I thought to myself that was a good demonstration of faith . Firstly I had faith in my friend’s honesty , which gave me faith these rolls would suit my needs without  failure in quality and finally my own faith that at my age I would live long enough to use sixteen rolls of toilet paper !

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Pushing It

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Music is probably the nectar of my life. Writing is something I also love, but that often requires considerable thought , planning and time. Music just seeps into us and is so powerful and stimulating when all we have to do is listen ….and maybe dance.  Obviously we have our favorite singers, musicians , instruments and other paraphernalia that rework those magical musical memories – good or bad, when we hear them. That little ‘zing’ we get from them is a brain tonic and is now recognized as a useful stimulant for many sicknesses…ironically many that are related to old age.

I say ironically because there seems to be a trend where singers from decades back are ‘doing the clubs’ like they did forty or fifty years ago when there was a pub culture and we could go to listen to a live band as they climbed the ladder of fame .

Many songs from those years are locked into my mind like small treasures which should remain unsullied for each playing. Now if these old geezers want to do new stuff  – singers or musicians – then maybe go for it,  but when singers  perform ‘original hits’ from four decades back, which they obviously have to do as the audience expects it, then with that expectation comes a mixture of pity, hope, disappointment and eventually a grudging acceptance that it was crap, but it’s forty years since they bought that particular hit out. We carry a vague hope they will do it like they did back then  …but they don’t!

Notes which can no longer be reached , teeth …white and straight as picket fences , the shaky strained voice, the outfit with the sparkles is a little taut over the elderly body shape, grey ( sometimes tinted) fairy hair and the dance moves …..well, I’m sorry they just look wrong with bony knees and skinny legs.

The frustration is compounded when they speed up or alter the lyrics of a past smash hit  in which every single note, riff and change has been welded into my brain….. simply to  patronise the fans ….yes that was our big hit …but we are tired of performing it so we’ll change it up a bit. No please ….don’t!

Phil Collins sings from a chair on stage ( and he’s still pretty good ) and his son does the drumming ( also good ) but it’s kind of an oh shit moment when you have just paid out the weeks grocery money for tickets.  Kenny Rogers has passed now, but he was almost unrecognizable from scalpel work and Willy Nelson who is an amazing performer, has quit a couple of concerts recently and gone home or to a rehab centre after one song.  Come on Willy just do studio work with your talented sons and drop the concert work. The Rolling Stones are just wrong and Rod Stewart comes across in interviews as a sad and silly old man who constantly points out he  is a billionaire….why keep going Rod ? Tom Jones voice is almost unaltered and he still looks OK, but he does look old and he never did drugs. Face it people age and hard living shows – especially under stage lights.

I can understand adulation is a drug and money is always useful,  but many of these codgers  need to find a real friend or family member who will look at them with a clear and honest appraisal and say ..’.it was a great ride but it’s time to wrap it up daddyo !’

New Years Eve 2019

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The program I watched wasn’t all that good on the flickering TV screen,

All the talk was about the year gone by and what the next one will be,

So I switched off the set, got into the chair and slowly rolled out of the house

To find New Years Eve in my little town was almost as quiet as a mouse.

TV noise is an abrasive sound and I find that as soon as it stops

The silence seems to magnify and it’s just so beautiful it’s… well it’s tops !

I sat there on the patio and strained my ears for sounds,

Like midnight cheers and yeehas yelled and crackers going off all around,

But there was not a single noise at midnight and the temperature was mild

I looked up at the sky and held my breath – the widescreen view was wild.

There was a single light from the Stockman’s pub and a street light further away,

A nice little breeze blew in from the north reducing the heat from the day.

Across the sky The Milky Way was as clear as a mountain pond,

It started near the roof of the Border Garage and it headed off way beyond,

And the Southern Cross just twinkled there – they say you can’t see it in the States,

It made me feel proud of Australia and it made me think of my mates.

I wondered if I was a little bit strange just sitting out there in the dark,

When people in Sydney paid big dough to see crackers go off from a park,

Tons of fireworks colored their sky with the light bouncing off all their faces

Smiling and sharing a few metres of space ignoring religion and colour and races,

But the sky above me I reckon seemed better- as near as I could tell-

It’s only how you see things ‘cos they can see it down there as well,

The stars were hidden over Sydney town by the smoke and the glare of the lights,

And I wondered if they would appreciate what I could see that night –

Oh it’s out bush yes, and I don’t deny it’s probably not as much of a thrill

As sitting on a small blue tarp in a park with the chance of a hot coffee spill.

See it’s still New Year whether you’re here or there, and I sort of have my doubts

If many considered the stars that night or what silence is all about.

But no matter what sights you see, and no matter what opinions you give,

In Australia we still have the freedom to choose and we still have the freedom to live.

Paradise Lost

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A couple of days ago there was a report of a child found dead at the edge of the surf on a beach in Queensland . The place is familiar to me and this baby’s death so bizarre I felt I had to write a poem  as her requiem or to release it from my mind.  There is more coming out each day on this case and it just seems to get worse, but none of it will help her now.

We are fortunate to be living in this lucky country, but sometimes things happen that have no logical explanation and seem too terrible to even imagine. This was one of them.

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And then on the news

From where buildings have views,

A child had been found near the water.

Laying dead on the sand

In this make believe land,

She had to be somebody’s daughter.

In the home of the stars

And all of the bars,

Of fortunes and loving with smiles.

Maybe this was a case

Of wrong time and wrong place-

Maybe nobody thought her worthwhile.

This poor little soul

Only nine months old,

A victim of psychotic neglect,

Her tiny soul lost

As they consider the cost

Of parents whose lives are a wreck.

Imagine her life

Daily trouble and strife,

Her fear and what she was thinking,

Such a tragic event

When three people went

To the beach for some drugs and some drinking.

I know someone cares

That this baby died there,

Where the waves continue to roll,

It’s a bad thing to hear ,

And to happen right here ,

Just so sad – may God rest her soul.

 

 

The Long Range Bike Rider

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A normal day can produce an unusual experience right out of the blue.  For example,  meeting someone riding a push bike from Steep Point in W.A. to Cape Byron in Qld in fifty six days. A bloke is doing just that to raise money for the Royal Society for the Blind which is based in S.A. ( rsb)  This is not, as you often see on the news , using back up media and safety vans with flashing lights and sponsor signage , but just a man on a bike handling all his own problems as he moves across the country  relishing every moment. The bike looks quite tired, and it needs a bit of work,  but he is seemingly as fit as a flea.

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His name is Kim Turner and he has been around for sixty five years. He calls himself a ‘long range bike rider’ and he has been north to south across Oz and has done Tassie as well – all in the name of charity . He currently works in the mining  industry,   traveled the world, has six grown kids and lives in a shearer’s hut fifty k’s from Adelaide. His mind is bristling with stories and anecdotes about people he reveres and has met and he articulates them with Italian like hand gestures , looking away as his memory refills and his eyes sweep back with a quote from someone like the Dali Lama or Rudyard Kipling to further illustrate a point.

I wondered , as he pushed off into a strong westerly wind to prepare for his next leg to Tenterfield, if in another setting this man would be someone famous , but I doubt he would like that notion as he seemed to be quite content with his lot. He admitted he disliked school and quit early, but his knowledge of ‘stuff’ was remarkable and he is a true raconteur.

It was refreshing to meet such a man and I pondered later about my ordinary memory and how the rust of age seemed to be settling on it. Kim mentioned Bec Miller at the Royal Society for the Blind in S.A. saying she was an exceptional lady and has been a great help to him.  Should you see Kim heading for Byron Bay  on his trusty bicycle you could help with a donation for the rsb and if you get the chance to chat with him just enjoy it. He’s an unusual human being.

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The singer, the saddler and the songs.

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In a country town not far from where I live a singer named Peter Allen lived and had  a famous grandfather  whose place of business became famous in one of Peter Allen’s songs -‘The Tenterfield Saddler’. Peter, apart from writing wonderful songs won an Oscar and married Liza Minnellie, so he got fairly well known . This inspired the tourism folks, the council, a bunch of supporting business’ and lots of volunteers to create a festival in Peter’s honour. It took a couple of years, but the inaugural weekend festival played September 6th to 9th and was very successful.

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One can meet all sorts of folks at such events who are interesting and from all sorts of backgrounds. Tenterfield is a picturesque, friendly and historical  little town on the New England highway – which they blocked for the Saturday festivities and must have taken some organising.

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The shot above was taken as stall holders began setting up  and strangely, people seemed to  be hesitant to walk on the bitumen even after all the heavy transport and cars were stopped .

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There were many singers and songs, concerts and events happening. These ladies are the ‘Loveys’ and were an amazing little band from Mullumbimby who  had a couple of reasons for getting together. They all played an instrument at some stage in their lives        ( one plays a bassoon !) and they all had been in less than successful marriages. Women are amazing !

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At the end of the day when the sun was going down and folks had wandered home after closing up , the trucks were back on the highway and this tenacious local was still singing away.  He was obviously booked in this slot for the afternoon and the only bloke within cooee was the snowy haired tech guy. When he finally finished his set three or four people passing by and coming down off the euphoria of concert music, love and happiness applauded him like he was some rock god. Must have made his efforts feel a little more worthwhile.

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His name is Glenn. A smiling face, an interesting and friendly character. A self employed landscaper  with two kids and a wife back in Sydney camped in a Torago and cooked his tea with a small gas stove, warmed his legs with two small fan heaters under the light of a Dewalt power drill lamp running off a board charger which satisfied his worldly needs. He found pleasure in  simplicity  saying  these days people’s lives were  clogged up with too much unnecessary stuff.  The misty rain didn’t phase him . He checked things out around the Festival and the next morning said he loved it and headed back to Sydney. He kindly left one of the heaters for me saying he got them cheap from Bunnings. He was unusual – but typical of the Festival goers.   DSC06009

The Danny Elliott interpretation of Peter Allen’s songs and life made for a fantastic concert and a couple of hundred mature souls packed into the Henry Parkes town hall laughing, crying and singing Peter Allen songs like kids at The Wiggles concerts.  Sir Henry got some important things rolling in this Town Hall and the process has been repeated this September as plans are already being made for the Peter Allen Festival to be an annual event. Definitely worth a visit!

The King

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Elvis Presley, died on this day in 1977 .  I recall I was in an office in Adelaide exactly  forty one years ago when I heard the news report.  It was so hard to believe back then.  I remember when my best friend bought back a 45 of  ‘Paralysed’  from Japan  before it’s release in Australia and we treated it like some sort of religious icon, slipping it from the paper cover and placing it on the turntable to hear it for the first time. The goose bumps slid up and down my spine smiling as the now familiar, but still amazing intro, came through the speakers. I remember that day as if it were yesterday.

It wasn’t all easy for Elvis. In hindsight , having every facet of his life picked over and analysed from every angle including his penchant for  junk food and later in his career  prescription drugs, it was pretty clear Elvis was going to come to grief at a young age.  He was seen by over a billion people in 1973 in his ‘Aloha Hawaii’ concert long before the reach of the Internet. If you live on Earth chances are you have heard the name Elvis Presley and it’s unlikely  any  of today’s celebrities will ever match him.

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His workload  which involved eleven hundred odd concerts in seven years plus thirty two movies after his army service probably contributed  to his early demise, but management wanted as much from ‘their product’ as they could get . It’s ironic and has a degree of Kama that his manager died a pauper. Even with all that, many of his early songs with the Jordanaires set him up for an incredible career gaining legendary status and his music still remains popular today.  He is apparently making more money each year now than when he was alive. He was  different and controversial when he began singing and he lifted popular music  into a whole new realm.

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From a very basic beginning, he worked his craft using original sounds from  different genres of songs believing in himself until eventually he created something that can never be forgotten whether it was rock or pop, country or gospel.  To my mind,  during  his whole life he remained a humble, modest , decent and  spiritual  human being who was almost embarrassed by his wonderful gifts.  I believe he  was aware he had some rare power  of communication via music and he used it to make hearts light, love intense, smiles bright and millions of feet want to dance. Throughout his  career  his songs were presented with  respect, sincerity and often a sense of mischief.

Elvis burst onto the scene setting  the standard for  others to follow such as Tom Jones, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis etc proving that although he had his frailties  he was truly unique and to many people he will always remain The King.

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