Is it your throat? Or
Have you caught a viral load?
Rasped by a thousand vibrating files
The vile Bastards of the sloyd shop
Whose job it is to smooth dry surfaces
Saw back and forth in unison
Attacking your ruby larynx
Until soothed by a nameless elixir
You gag and rest upon The Test
To await the day
The text arrives to say
You have what -
Is but a common cold
In relief you wash your
Well washed hands.
And praise the advice -
Keep one point five metres
Apart and stay safe.
I have a friend who has a dollar note, sitting in a frame on his wall.
When asked. “
Why do you keep this note?”
His answer is, “It was part of my first ever pay packet.”
My experience with money has been different. For a start the first money I saw as coming from my job, as opposed to payment I received in exchange for my time helping out as I grew up, was given to me – or so it seemed. My first payment wasn’t even cash. It was a paper cheque with my name on it. As payment it was practically useless because I couldn’t buy anything with it until I had paid it into a bank account.
I was handed my cheque on a Thursday morning. The nearest bank was about 2 kilometres from the college I attended. The bank would be closed by the time I finished lectures if I did not rush off to the bank at lunchtime. So, at lunch time I scarpered off to the bank. And so did my class mates. (All accept John who always had a £10 note (our largest note at that time). John got so used to flashing his £10 note – only to be told – “It’s too big for me to cash luv. Have you got anything smaller?” He made money out of having too much. When going to a dance – it might have cost 2/3d to gain entry – he would say, “ I have only got £10 can you pay for me?”)
I chose the Commonwealth bank in Moorabool St Geelong as my bank because it was the nearest bank I knew of in this new city. (To start an account today you have to provide a list of items that certify you are who you are.) I had none of those hassles. I had the cheque. I knew my name – possibly I had my driver’s licence. Within a few minutes all my money was in the bank. But I needed some of that money to buy the things I needed for the next 14 days. How much?
I had no idea. (My accommodation and my food was paid. It formed part of the allowance I was paid, but it was never shown as a separate amount. My cheque was for approximately £11. 4. 6p ((I am only certain of the £s I was paid a fortnight after expenses.))
How much. I didn’t need much. I didn’t drink. I had no transport costs to pay. I didn’t have to pay for utilities. Perhaps I could go to the cinema, treat myself to a coffee, buy other treats.
“ I will need £2.”
So I withdrew £2 in cash. (Within a year or so the banks insisted the cheque clear – at least 3 working days – before I got access to the money the government paid me to learn.)
I left the bank with a bank passport in my name. It showed how much I deposited and another entry showed how much I had withdrawn. The final column showed how much money I had in the bank. Any money I had, apart from the cash in hand was always in the bank. Once I had spent my £2 if I wanted more I could only get more going back to the bank between 9 am and 3pm on a Monday to Friday (excluding holidays). What a pain that became.
I have always hated carrying cash around. Yet if anything was needed the only way to buy it was to have cash at hand. If I wanted to go home (I didn’t) I needed cash to buy a train ticket. I attended church. To give to the service of the church I needed cash. Fortunately I was well, but if I needed a visit to the doctor, or dentist I had to have cash with me. The money in the bank didn’t count because unless you planned beforehand how much you might need you couldn’t get access to it after banking hours.
So I soon discovered the benefit of having a personal cheque account of my own. This meant people would trust your signature scratched on a piece of paper was worth what you said it was.
Cash was needed to go to a dance, or pay for a meal, but visits to the doctor, or dentist – when you were unsure how much they charged could be paid by cheque. Providing you had sufficient credit in your bank account. Sometimes you would read about a person who had deceived another by passing a worthless cheque to them. You would read stories like that in the newspaper yet it possibly happened only once to me – if it happened at all.
The truth is no one but a crook would pass a worthless cheque because no one used credit to buy things. They used their own money, or they borrowed money from their bank – knowing they would have to pay it back £ by £ each month as the agreement stated. Or they did as most people did and they went without until they could buy what they wanted for cash.
In 1966 Australia adopted a whole new currency. In time we got used to handling our new cash. In 1969 the banks introduced instant credit. Anyone could go to their bank and the bank would give them a Bankcard with up to $500 of credit. We didn’t because we were accustomed to paying by cash,or cheque, for the things we wanted.
The banks were on to a good thing. They continued to profit from Bankcard until Visa Card and MasterCard took over their business. Interest rates on credit cards rise, even in these days of near zero interest charges. Pay day lending, and other forms of instant credit, are available almost everywhere. People are addicted to credit.
The Covid 19 crises has now almost killed cash. Many stores now require people to use plastic cards to pay for their purchases. People with cash complain their money is legal tender and must be accepted as fair exchange, but in fact the stores have the upper hand. It turns out – so long as they display their terms of trade – they need only accept electronic forms of payment. The purchaser cannot insist they accept cash. Go figure.
That chap with the first $1 he saved now finds we have moved from paper$1 . As if nothing will ever change. It does. Cash is no longer king.
My partly remembered conversation started this way.
“What are you doing?”
“I am clapping . Nick has won the property auction.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I am . You. Me ? I was asleep.”
“What do you mean I woke you up, you were clapping weren’t you?”
“Yes. I was. But I was asleep.”
“That’s stupid you were clapping.”
“I was dreaming and you have woken me.”
“I am sorry. I though you must have nave been awake. No one claps in their sleep.”
Did you dream?
It is a condition of mine I do not fight. In my own words, I am a slow sleeper. My blonde haired partner is not. Within moments of her head hitting the pillow she is deeply asleep. I listen for her deep breathing to start and then I toss and turn . In the wee small hours I realise I have been asleep and rise from my bed and wander about the house.
If it is raining I will look out the windows and marvel at the rain. On another evening in broad moonlight I will wonder outside and be mesmerised by the simplicity of the sphere that is forever changing through its quarters. Having checked my surroundings I will hop back into bed and drift in and out of consciousness until the sleeping hours are almost exhausted and then I will sleep deeply, slowly, and innocently.
I welcome the final hour to sleep like a baby, and I dream. My dreams are times, according to Carl Jung – are the time the anima an the animus work their magic in the human spirit. These are times when the male unconsciously accepts the benefits of the feminine side of his nature. The opposite condition, according to Jung, manifests itself in the female.
Lately my unremembered dreams cause me to often wake in a sweat of anxiety caused by my reaction to a partly remembered event from years before. Just last week on waking like this I had to get out of bed and deliberately remind myself the events I thought I was reliving never happened at all, and even if it did, it was so long ago as to be irrelevant today. (Oddly fo those of you interested in analysing my behaviour, they were moments of anxiety for children I once had in my care in my classroom care. The reality is it was nearly half a century ago.)
How you sleep is important to your development. We need to dream because it motivates our development. I wish you good dreams. In doing so I am not alone with Jung. Here is what a few others say about dreams.
Dreams are necessary to life.
Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. – Anais Nin
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Author supplied photograph
During the Cold War over seventy nations put their political differences aside and planned a series of eleven major scientific studies of the globe in 1957/58. Those eighteen months were called the International Geophysical Year. From that Australian scientists played a major role in the advancements of knowledge of the globe. Specifically our work was perhaps more successful than the six nations that joined with us to study Antartica. The success was due in a large part to our foreign affairs department. It agreed for our scientists to set up bases in the country in the years before to trial equipment and materials. In those years our scientists were able to refine their knowledge to work in such an inhospitable region. (Post that period other countries have perhaps fared better.)
I have several reasons for retelling this story. The first is it is a reminder of Vic. ( I don’t remember his full name) but he was a young fellow Rev George Mutten mentored. The young man was an infrequent visitor to the vicarage and I met him only a handful of times. George took pride in saying he had spent time at Antartica during the IGY. I learned he was tragically killed a short while later in a car accident on a notorious bend in the Stoney Risers. His leader in the year he spent at Casey Base was Dr Phillip Law.
Phillip Law was a very respected Australian who made academic contributions to the growth of this country. He was born in 1912 ( a year before my mother). His is the second reason I recall this time. He led an interesting life, that has been documented in at least six books – including three autobiographies. The few pararagaphs I give to him relate to his adventures in Antartica. Where he first visited in 1949.
Law was born in Tallangatta. He grew up in Hamilton and went to the Ballarat Teachers College. He taught at secondary schools in Hamilton, Geelong and Melbourne Boys High School before he gained an MSc in Physics at Melbourne University. During WW11 he was involved with war projects at the University. ( I had my own time working in some of the same localities but that is as far as the similarities go.)
After the war Law gave up his secure job at the University and was appointed leader of ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Exhibition) by the Department of External Affairs. He was the leader in charge of bases at Macquarie Island and Antartica from 1949. He held that position until 1977 by which time he had personally led exhibitions to Antartica twenty three times.
Consequently he was leader in the years of planing leading up to the International Geophysical Year.
The learnings that came from the eleven major studies of the globe in those eighteen months have had a profound influence of our understanding of the universe. For instance, in the years leading to the study period America announced it would launch a satellite into space. The intensity of achievement was ramped up to such an extent America was beaten in the space race. They did not launch their rocket until the USSR had startled the world with Sputnik one , in 1957,, and Sputnik two. In all, over seventy countries had tens of scientists study the globe in wonderful cooperation.
If there is a good sign we are prepared to listen to scientists. It is now. This the first time in three generations science, and the word of scientists are being sought out.
Which brings me to another reason for tapping away at this screen and recording my thoughts. Some years from now people will ask those living today, what was Covid 19 like? What did you do?
I am not a diarist but here are some thoughts on the matter. The most astonishing thing is the virus quickly developed across the globe in three months. The lives of most people have been turned upside down. Millions of people are sick with a disease for which there is no cure. As a result thousands have lost their lives. Millions that were employed one day are unemployed the next. All over the world people have been affected. For example, our Government realised our hospital system was inadequate to manage an influx of desperately ill people, and its usual workload as well. so all but the most urgent operations were cancelled to free up hospital beds.
Initially one of the obvious signs was, the messages were confused, and people panicked. Supermarket shelves were emptied of basic necessities. People sought out information on self management skills that were almost forgotten: How to cook bread, How to grow vegetables, How to husband poultry. They did these things because they were unsure the state would be able to look after them. The government loosened spending and made available unparalleled government aid. Much of this aid was directed at business in the hope that life would “spring back” to normal when the initial panic subsided.
Now here we are three months down the track. Business people are arguing commerce will never recover unless the chains of lockdown are loosened. Immediately forgetting of course there is no cure. The Advance Australia group and the IPA are applying pressure on the Morrison government to lift the Lockdown and get back to business
This new pandemic age is certain to provide scope for dozens of future PHDs to study how it should have been approached, as every day we hear new reasons for and against social distancing. President Trump says America is not supposed to be closed to business at a time when many of his people are dropping dead like flies. He has also withdrawn funding from the World Health Organisation to take attention away from his own inadequacies
The truth is business is not going to bounce back as some businesses may never recover. Today Virgin Air excused itself from stock trading while the debt burdened company looks for a white knight to bail them out of trouble. Failing that aide it is just one of many.businesses unlikely to live on.
The evidence each country is fighting Covid 19 in its own way has made life more uncertain. Government’s around the world are making knee jerk responses to this hidden deadly threat. Many health officers are reporting progress is being made in treating it while they struggle behind the scenes to make beds and ventilators available for their sick.
It is not as if administrators were unaware a pandemic threatened mankind. In recent years we have had several near misses with SARS, and Ebola, but is the madness of mankind not to worry about future threats until we have to deal with them. Right now we can see the foolishness of this behaviour. Yet we procrastinate soothed by the words of business lobbyists.
How have we denied the warnings about global warming from similar learned people is beyond comprehension. This is yet another reason for speaking out. In my mouselike way my words are silenced except for recording , “What is happening is not happening in my name”. Perhaps it his is more difficult until one has lived through many awful life events and observed it hasn’t always been so easy. My hope remains world leaders will put aside the nonsense industry people spread and instruct their scientists to advise them.
My last point is contentious. I want billionaires to donate all but their pocket money to science. If I pick just one I will start with Bill Gates. I cannot decide whether he is a saint or sinner. His charities do such a lot of good yet the question remains, was his wealth legitimate from the beginning? Leaving that question aside.
I want him to abandon the idea that big business will help agriculture and global food supply. I think water and soil and seed, that isn’t owned by business, and organic fertiliser, again unowned by business, is all farmers need to produce food locally. Food has been produced that way forever. Monoculture is not good for the planet. If you are unsure of this get the scientists of the world to study food production with no thought of patents and licences. Just do it for the hell of it like was done in the IGY back in 1957/58.
Here is an interview with a very old Phillip Law. (He was 97 when he died)
Fifty-five years wed
The bride is
Without a shadow turning
Troubled by ocular tears
Today she was pumped
With a nostrum used
To curb the canker
Of colon cancer.
As the needle pricked
Into her orbs it
Fed the chemical used
To shrink capillary motions.
We trust the ophthalmologist
Knows the body
As the macular
Sees not – the colon.
As I age I become more aware merde happens all the time to innocent people. It happens to good people of any age. Horrible as it seems, anything can happen to anyone, and it seems it usually hits those who were about to say their life is good.
Long ago I realised my health has been a gift. I do have a little story though. In my case, I was four when I ran in through the front door of the house and by the time I reached the hallway door it slammed shut and I ran into the door knob fracturing my skull. (Not that anyone has ever confirmed officially my skull was broken but it is the way I describe the indentation on the right side of my head.) Apart from a visit to the vet surgery across the road, and the clever advice my mother accepted that it would be better if I was treated at the hospital, it has been of no bother to me accept it is a bother to my hairdressers. That was until I turned fifty three and I commenced drug treatment for a stroke.
Some thirteen years later I had a month or so of TIA s. These temporary blood blocks would starve my brain for a second or two, and I would lose track of what I was doing. I cannot describe now the occasional trouble it caused me except for these examples. The first time I became aware I had no idea of what I was doing I was in Stabby’s butchery.
Before I left home I had grabbed a handful of coins as I had no notes in my wallet. My meat purchases came to say, $8. I reached into my pocket and started to count the coins. I got worried because I only had half as much as I needed in my hand, but I handed to to Gordon and told him I would return later with the remainder. Instead of agreeing he started to hand me back some of the cash, saying I was overpaying him. I was further confused. I took the cash and the meat and realised I was counting $2 coins as 20 cents. On the second occasion I was trying to learn the script of a play I was scheduled to appear in. Try as I might I couldn’t remember more than one line. With the aid of the playwright I was allowed to read my lines and it didn’t affect the play.
With luck by my side these events happened long ago without lasting effects. In the last case I found the remedy after another brain scan, and a change of medication.
Brains hadn’t figured at all in my life again until I learned a couple of my friends are headed the way of the Hungarian, the politician’s wife, and the bishops. All these people have died with Alzheimers condition.
In the case of “Celery” (my wife’s nickname for Cecilia) it has been a total shock. This woman has been a wonderful caring teacher, she remains, the devoted wife of a friend even though she is now in a nursing home. Sadly she can no longer respond to the frivolous nickname as she did years ago.
In the case of the biker, the disease has not yet progressed as far. A recent meeting with him reminded me of the confused lesson the Hungarian gave me on cheese making. It was purposeful but inconclusive, and didn’t result in cheese. A little while later he was in care and unable to recognise me. The biker is now fighting the disease walking everywhere.
The journey these families are on is too familiar to me. The results of the illness is not at all like forgetting your PIN number, or what you have to do later. Neither is it forgetting to put money in the parking meter. In time it will progress until the very purpose of the meter is forgotten. A comparison in this digital ages is to compare it to the slow destruction of your computer’s hard drive.
My thoughts are with my friends. This is my chance to thank them for the richness they have added to my life.
This was a very difficult job because what I remember is coloured by the prejudices of long years but it is written without hindsight. We can all be wiser with hindsight. I mentioned my aim to write this article last night in company. I was challenged to offer advice to my 100 year old self.
In no particular order these words are words of advice to myself at one hundred
If you have made it this far it speaks wonders for modern science and the ability of prescription drugs to aid longevity
Have more things to do than you have days to finish them.
Complain not – except by silent sufferance
Recognise I have only reached this age with the love given to me by loved ones.
Remain curious and investigate things you don’t understand
Develop a positive attitude
Don’t be bullied into anything
Understand stubbornness is recessive energy
Eat drink and be merry because almost everyone you knew is now dead
Dying is natural so give it a go without fear.