SOME YEARS AGO, James, a Greek builder, told me he wanted to finish building houses and get among the Spanish women on the island of Majorca before the lights went out.
He spent about eight years building and then suddenly went to earth. For the life of me, I don’t know if the lights had gone out for him, or if indeed he ever got to Majorca. As to the Spanish women, who can say?
Looking at this photograph, you can certainly see that, in my case, the lights have gone out. Reflecting on Graham Greene could perhaps be of some help. Hold your breath!
If all those years ago James didn’t make it as a good-looking Greek with a ponytail, what chance would I have as a broken-down Anglo Australian?
I’d say my school friend, the Silver Fox, in spite of his years, with his mixture of German, Irish, and Gallic charm would leave many old fellows like me for dead.
The thing I share with Graham Greene and his life is not his talent, but something of his Catholicism, and the way it continually gets in the way of desire in matters of the flesh.
My saving grace has always been a lack of opportunity. Graham in his life didn’t have this problem.
My years have taught me to walk softly in the footsteps of the Aboriginal elders. In fact this came to me years ago when Deborah, my wife, was living in the Block in Redfern.
If you didn’t walk with care there was always a good chance you would be robbed. Over the years there were some splendid fellows in the Block. If you did feel an urge to be part of the indigenous spirituality there, it was always possible to arrange a smoking ceremony, and what an experience that was.
The smell of burning gum leaves and the mumbling of incomprehensible words left many in a heavenly state and in touch with the dreamtime and the song lines.
Some of those bag snatchers of old in the Block were probably only preserving the old indigenous tradition of hunters and gatherers….
Deborah, my wife has encountered a variety of robbers and would be robbers: The hunter and gatherer type in the Block, a dysfunctional Anglo-Celtic with a hypodermic syringe full of blood near Broadway in Sydney.
In Madrid she was mugged and robbed by a North African follower of the Prophet; well, perhaps a follower!
From the Department of Planning and Community Development we are given a format in acknowledging our first people:
I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land [or country] on which we are meeting. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today.
This of course is to be commended, but I would like to see from time to time that some sort of recognition be given to the early settlers in building the Australia we have today.
Many of our younger generations seem to have the idea that all the early settlers did was slaughter Aborigines. I must admit that to my shame a lot of this was done, but they also did many noble things.
I approved of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the First Australians for the way they had been treated in the past.
But at least today they live in a country that offers them a reasonable level of law and order, access to education and to a good medical service and social security, and generally speaking work if it is really wanted.
On the other hand, let’s look at Papua New Guinea, and if any country needs an apology from Australia it’s PNG.
The so-called Independence given to PNG in 1975 has led to a breakdown of law and order in the country, fostered a bunch of corrupt politicians, ruined the health service and disadvantaged the majority of the people.
There’s practically no system of social welfare, and the whole place is on the verge of chaos.
Please Mr Rudd apologise to the people of Papua New Guinea for the bad and misguided actions of John Gorton and Gough Whitlam for their part in getting Australia out of PNG.
You have to remember it was the famous Gough who gave Suharto the green light to take over East Timor, need we say anything more!
Many years ago two relations of mine in an RSL were well and truly under the weather, one said to the other pointing to two women: Take your pick they are both goers!
I don’t know what happened, maybe they didn’t take a pick, but I don’t think the fate of nations depended on whatever they did. But Whitlam giving Suharto the green light had dire consequences!
If I die, or I should say when I die, I want to be buried with Mungo Man – what a splendid end to a life. I wonder when the lights went out for Mungo? Did Mungo pre-decease the Aborigines in Australia, and is of a special race apart? I don’t think the scientific proof is there for this!
On the other hand if the Captain can give me a time within a year period of the Rapture I’m prepared to wait around for this.
I did dare to tell the Captain that his Eschatology was a load of rubbish. I advised him to return to the faith of his pre-Reformation ancestors and bent the knee to Rome. Eliminate all those generation of heresy from his mind – read: Europe and the Faith by Belloc.
We all often think of spiritual places and in the Sydney of old the Block in Redfern often comes to mind. Daryl and Narelle, true hunters and gatherers in the old Aboriginal way. Val adding to the charm of the place.
I can’t move on without mentioning an Aboriginal who I have a lot of respect for. In the big protests against Australia getting involved in the Iraq war Shirley Lomas made an impassioned speech in Hyde Park and she ended by stating that we are all Abos!
Sometime after I met her at St Vincent’s in Redfern, she told she had put her name forward in ATSIC. I don’t think the community realise what a gem they have in Shirley. Her efforts came to nothing. What I like about Shirley is that she tells it as it is without any bullshit. Good luck to you Shirley, wherever you are!
My thoughts also go back to a Bible-based community in Queensland under the leadership of Brother George.
At the time in the 1980s Brother George and his followers were doing ground-breaking work on the New Age. One of the most enlightened researchers with the community was Brother John.
Brother John lived in a caravan at the back of Brother George’s house and did a lot of work with a Sister Cheryl.
Apparently the wife of Brother George was concerned with the amount of time Sister Cheryl was spending with Brother John.
One day she knocked on the door of the caravan and said: “What are you two doing in there?” To which Brother John answered: “Working on the New Age for your husband!”
It was to be commended that the purity of the Bibical message was not being undermined by any hanky-panky!
I think in the evolutionary story the poor old Homo Erectus and the Neanderthals get a rough spin. I have it on good authority that both these groups were blessed with immortal souls.
So that when we are welcomed into eternal life by St Peter there also with him will be numbers of Neanderthals and others. Life and death are covered with mysteries!
Of course we all know that Jesus has returned in the person of AJ Miller. Do I need to say anything more? As AJ says “I’m Jesus deal with it.” Yes, AJ, I will deal with it, by saying you are not Jesus!
One may not always agree with what the famous journalist Helen Thomas, recently deceased, said, but her words in 2010 should be considered concerning Israel and Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else.”
The geopolitical decision in creating the state of Israel after the war has destabilised the Middle East ever since!
Let’s look at the agreement between Rudd and O’Neill, the so called ‘PNG Solution’.
I would imagine that what was said privately between Rudd and O’Neill probably went along these lines:
‘Don’t worry Peter, after we announce our policy hardly any boats will turn up anyhow, after the refugees fully realise that if they arrive by boat PNG is where they will finally end up, and just think of all the perks we are giving in exchange for your agreement!’
O’Neill in answer would have said:
‘Good point Kevin, I’ll go along with it provisionally for a year, and see what happens.’
Claire Harvey’s piece in The Sunday Telegraph gave us food for thought:
But also, and perhaps most importantly, Rudd’s PNG plan has exposed the intellectual dishonesty of the “refugee lobby”.
“But but but but but but but,” they have spluttered, “but but but but … ” But PNG is a shithole?
Yeah. It is. And now it’s our shithole – and you know what else? It’s a signatory to the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention.
I must say that I agree with Henry Reynolds that the Aboriginal people who died fighting against the white invasion of their land should be honoured like other Australian soldiers.
This blog rant of mine started with a reference to James the Greek builder.
It has now come to my notice, and it is rumoured that James is seriously considering taking Holy Orders in the Greek Church – a Church from the Roman point of view that is schismatic but not in heresy – the continuity and validity of their Orders have been maintained throughout the Ages.
I’ll end by posing this question: Have the lights gone out for James?