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Revealed to the world: The grumpy old men of PNG Attitude

Ugly Head
Phil - has survived long-term exposure to grumps reasonably intact


GRUMPY BAY - One of the hidden delights of PNG Attitude over the years has been the contributions of articles and comments by a venerable coterie of grumpy old men.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned grumpy old women. I’m sure they exist but I’m not sure I really want to go there. Call me sexist or cowardly but there are some possums not worth poking with a stick. So back to the men.

They are, of course, a fairly elite group. You don’t become a grumpy old man unless you’ve earned it. You have to be able to exhibit the scars of battle to gain membership. Not even bribery will get you there.

So what makes this band of brothers so unique?

I think Chris Overland, himself a fine example of the genre, defined it quite well when he said: “Sixty or more years of experience can confer a degree of wisdom and, unless you are truly delusional, you mostly see the world as it is, not as you might wish it to be.

“Also, your concerns about what others may think of you diminish with age. You give yourself permission to say what you really think. You do not tend to hold back for fear of upsetting someone.”

I thought that was inspiring, so much so that I’ve pinched it for a memoir I’m about to publish about being a migrant kid in Australia.

So who are these grumpy old men? There are actually too many to count but here’s a sampler.

There’s Paul Oates, a grumpy old kiap, who has been banging his head against a brick wall for years.

His particular beef is the antics of both the Papua New Guinean and Australian governments. Paul just can’t understand why things that are so simple and obvious, like good governance, disappear from view when those political guys get within cooee.

Then there’s Francis Nii. If anyone’s battered and scarred it’s Francis, and not just in body. Francis casts his scathing net wide, but Papua New Guinea’s errant politicians and public servants particularly provoke his ire. From the misty heights of Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital in Kundiawa he pounces with amazing alacrity on hapless felons.

And we mustn’t forget music and film aficionado Peter Kranz. Backed up by Simbu bubus and his lovely wife Rose, Peter takes to task the more harebrained schemes of government, be it the shonky Pacific workers deal or the concentration camp run by Australia on beautiful Manus Island.

Up in the mountains of Enga there’s Daniel Kumbon, indefatigable promoter of Papua New Guinean literature and a veteran journalist who is nobody’s fool. He recently sat out the carnage of the 2017 elections in Wabag and Kandep and kept us all apprised of the stupidity of mixing clan allegiances with politics.

And if you need a quote for any season there’s the perspicacious Bernard Corden. His comments are short, sharp and straight to the point. Bernard just loves casino capitalism and examples of neoliberalism underpinned by unilateral doctrines of laissez faire. According to Bernard there’s plenty of malevolent freedoms to do harm in this casino. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly which is a good gig as there are a lot of fools out there to suffer.

I could go on to mention Mathias Kin, William Dunlop, Terry Shelley, Philip Kai Morre, Arthur Williams and Michael Dom – and I just have.

Then there are the polite ones, the grumpy old men lurking behind a façade of good manners.

I’m thinking of Robin Lillicrapp, Ed Brumby, Father Garry Roche, Corney Alone, Richard Jones and Lindsay Bond - gentlemen of the keyboard whose benignity is but skin deep.

And of course, there’s our esteemed KJ. He can get quite prickly if you rub him up the wrong way. Usually remarkably tolerant, he’s been known to cut transgressor’s water off pretty smartly.

As I said, just a few examples. Trawl through the archives of PNG Attitude and you’ll stumble across loads more. Just be careful not to step on their toes unless you first distract them with a parcel of praise.

There are others of this loyal band we haven’t heard from in a while (although many grump on using PNG Attitude’s Twitter and Facebook varieties). Wherever they are, you can be assured they are shovelling away bullshit whenever they find it.

There is also a crop of grumpy old men in training.

People like Michael Dom, Jakub Majewski, Martyn Namorong and Leonard Fong Roka to name but three. One day they’ll take up the baton, transform it into a battle axe and do us all proud beating hypocrisy and venality over the head.


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Philip Kai Morre

Thanks Phil, from the wisdom and insights of old men like you we grow to be authentic and become full human beings.

At this time we need to listen to the prudent advice of old men who have accumulated knowledge and wisdom over the years.

We can have knowledge and intelligence but, without wisdom, we are not worth it.

Peter Kranz

I must defer to an even grumpier old man, my Dad, who is still going strong, albeit on three cylinders.

His favourite quote was "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."

(Often wrongly attributed to Mark Twain - there I am being grumpy again.)

Paul Oates

Thank you for welcoming me into the GOM (Grumpy Old Men) fraternity Phil. I'm honoured to be mentioned along with so many other good mates who all (mostly) think along the same lines.

As someone not far off seventy, I was recently told I should now consider myself elderly. 'Well', I said, 'I guess that makes you middle aged!'.

The respondent being female, like Queen Victoria, 'was not amused.' You're right on the money, Phil, we just shouldn't go there.

Funny how we tend to view the world depending on our point of view. Tagging along with my son and taking my grandson to school, one of young his mates was heard asking my grandson 'Is that your Grandpa?'

'Yes', was the reply. 'He's sixty-nine'.

For some reason, I'm not sure what that meant so I took it as a compliment indicating some form of achievement. At our venerable and elderly age, you need all the ego enhancing compliments you can get.

Bernard Corden

I am too old to know everything - Oscar Wilde

Jakub Majewski

I feel like being elevated to the lofty status of a grumpy old man in training, I should answer in a sharp and witty burst of grumpiness. But shoot, I can't complain. It's just too damn gratifying to be placed in such company!

Lindsay F Bond

Inclining to live long, brings bouts a panting, then ranting, then panting breathlessly, exercising words of 'woulds', such of wonts grumpiliana.

William Dunlop

Phillip, tanks, Garry, Very good one. KJ, I'm leaving Joyce's Finnegans Wake to its entirety in itself. Fede Meil Celtie.
Regards all.

`Daniel Kumbon

Millions swam towards one egg in my mother's womb. The strongest to reach it first was nobody's fool.

I feel as if I have accomplised the purpose for which I was born into this world of ours.

Thanks Phil for the mention.

Chris Overland

I am humbled that Phil has seen fit to quote me as an archetype of the grumpy old man. I accept this accolade with both humility and pride.

The humility arises because I am now too aware of my own many foibles to seriously think that I have a mortgage on insight, wisdom or truth.

The pride stems from my belief that, as an aged denizen of this planet, I am entitled by both hard experience and endurance in the face of adversity to speak my truth, especially to those in power, before I plunge from the twig into the abyss.

I continue to be amazed by the cant, hypocrisy and naked self interest displayed by those either holding or seeking positions of power and authority as they jockey for power over us.

I remain astonished by the wilful ignorance and stupidity of so many of our fellow citizens across the globe who continue to believe in the unbelievable, think the unthinkable and do the unspeakable.

As a Class 1 Grumpy, I intend to resist the tendency to mass idiocy now manifest across the globe as long as I can. Better to go down fighting than allow the truly stupid to lead us all to ruin.

Yes, Donald Trump, this means you! And many others besides.

Michael Dom

Bah humbug!

Robin Lillicrapp

Now recovering from the shock of awakening to a formidable roast, I'm free to compliment Phil's evaluation of grumpacity as it has appeared to him. To be included is a rare privilege. Well done, Phil.

Slightly puzzling is the timing, though. Only after your recent relocation to a region of sparse settlement and relative invisibility of said domicile on North Korean radar screens did you venture to sally forth upon the battlements of literary limbo to deliver such insightful commentary.

Oh well, I guess time will suffice to reveal any further missiles - er' missals - heralding a new assault upon unsuspecting coteries of PNGophiles.

Garry Roche

What can I say - except to quote Oscar Wilde "There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

I think Wilde meant that being completely ignored was worse than being talked about, even if the talk was negative. I feel privileged to be included in Phil's critical remarks!

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