The Eve of Destruction

August 29, 2019 at 2:57 am | Posted in 1960s, Australia, Culture, Destroying nature, divisions in society, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, History, Politics, Religion, Social Responsibility, War and Conflict, Ways of Living, Writing | 12 Comments
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It is after 2.30am and I cannot sleep. I am energised. I have realised that the book I thought I was going to write is a nothing story. I have another tale to tell, from another perspective. I had thought Tori (the main character of my second novel, “Thursday’s Child”) was going to be the MC of my third novel too, but she will be a secondary character. She has had her time and done well, but it is up to another now to take the story forward.

 

Meet Gemma Henderson. She is the 71-year-old me of 2019 in the body of a 17-year-old girl in 1965 (as I was then). She is the activist I wanted to be. She is the idealist who wants to stop wars because they are so damned stupid. She is the one who wants to raise all people to be equal. She is the one who sees the folly of toeing the political line of the times, the futility of consumerism and the falsity of the world the politicians offer.

 

She is the one who believes that women are every bit as good and as intelligent as, and even more caring than the men who seem to want  nothing but to destroy – destroy the youth in wars, destroy the marginalised, destroy the prospect of beauty with the horror of war and capitalism, destroy the world with their greed for money and power.

 

Gemma is a warrior; an Amazon; a young woman who wants to change the world. She is an fierce idealist who will brook no barriers to her desire to improve the world, to take it out of the hands of war-mongering, greedy men and bring it back to Mother Earth, to the Nurturer, the Carer.

 

She will be the main character in the third of my YA historical novels. She is the sister, the daughter, and the prospective mother of future generations. The world, its ordinary people and its creatures are her passion, and although the odds are stacked high against her, she is willing to fight for what she believes is right.

 

She is what I wish I could have been when I had the energy of youth. She is what I would have perhaps become had I not been bogged down in conformity to a dead, corrupted Catholic religion. She is what I wish I could be now, but age, health and energy are lacking in this older body. I cannot be her in the way I want to be, but I can be her in the days of my youth, the 1960s, when our country was about to go “all the way with LBJ”.

 

I did march against the Vietnam War once when I was at Sydney University in 1966, but I was bound by the ties I had to my family, church and the belief that women were not meant to be a force for good in the world outside of their nurturing role within the family; that they were not supposed to take a stand in a world that looked to the so-called heroics of war and the destruction of others for the meaning and justification for existence.

 

I wanted to be a force for peace, even then. When I thought of all the young men who’d died in the two world wars, in Malaya, in Korea, and then what we were doing all again in Vietnam, I remember crying to my mum, saying that this should not be happening. If older men want to fight then it should be they who go out and put their bodies on the line – not young men in the flower of their youth.

 

Yes, I know I am using a cliché there, but it really does mean something. Those young men – boys, really – were only budding,  their whole life was ahead of them. They had barely bloomed when they were sent to suffer the horrors of war; a war that had no real justification beyond greed, nationalism and military might, and fear of the different. Maybe it’s because I am a woman who has borne five sons that I feel this way. But even then, years before I bore more than the weight of “womanly expectations”, I felt the same way.

 

Tonight, I cannot sleep because I believe I can see the world more clearly than those who supposedly rule it. They can only see their immediate future, the rewards of power, privilege & wealth that they will receive at the expense of those who will bear the brunt of their ambitions. I want to show that the world has not changed, no matter how much we want it to.

 

People are still ruled by fear, a fear that is fostered and capitalised on by political bosses. Back in the 1960s, it was “The Domino Effect” – that China would take over South-East Asia, and that Australia would be next on their list. Today, it is the fear that Muslims are taking over the world, or again, that the Chinese will be our masters if we don’t oppose them. Why do so many always believe the lies they are told, the Goebbelsesque indoctrinisation, based on fear, that is pushed by those who want us to allow them the power to rule us; that we are lost if we do not oppose everyone who looks, prays or eats differently to how we do?

 

Well, anyway, I am energised by my new project in a way I haven’t been for years. The wishy-washy story I was going to tell has been flushed away in a tide of anger at the world of then and now, at those who would take us to the brink of total destruction, just for their own greed. I won’t just sit down and let them do it. I will be a Greta Thunberg of the 1960s. I will be Gemma Henderson.  

 

(c) Linda Visman

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The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum

July 20, 2019 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Australia, heritage, History, Nature, Pre-history, The Red Centre | 14 Comments
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Today, we went to the Australian Age of Dinosaur Museum, part of the Dinosaur Trail. Many people do not realise that quite a number of dinosaur fossils have been found in several parts of Australia, with the major area being the plains of Central and Western Queensland. The museum is built on a mesa, about 15 km out of Winton. The driving force behind the establishment of the museum was David Elliott, a local pastoralist who became interested in and started collecting dinosaur fossils. He became the go-to man for any other local who discovered fossils on their property. This link will take you to a site with lots of information on the museum and its beginnings.

 

Banjo the dinosaur re-sized

‘Banjo’ the dinosaur, Australovenator wintonensis at the entry to the museum

 

The whole museum is great. Our $50 each gave entry us to three different experiences. The first was Preparation labs, where fossils are stored, and where volunteers help to release the fragile fossils from their matrix. Anyone can take a 10-day training course at the museum for a fee, and then join the volunteer team. There is a reproduction of the front leg of one of the dinosaurs they’ve found, a sauropod they call Matilda – a huge plant-eater, the largest dinosaur found in Australia. It stands next to the doorway and stands almost 3 metres high!

 

Matilda for size re-sized

‘Matilda’, next to a woman reporter for size

 

 

Dirk & fossil store re-sized

Hubby in the Prep area next to part of the racks of fossils that are waiting to be set free

 

Conservators re-sized

Some of the volunteer conservators working on fossils

 

The next experience was part video & part talk about three of the dinosaurs, and we were able to see the actual fossils that are displayed in a room at the main centre. I can’t show the actual fossils, as the room was quite dark & we couldn’t use flashes on our camera. One of them was ‘Alex’ Diamantinasaurus matildae, a large sauropod somewhat smaller than ‘Matilda’. They have quite a few marine fossils there too, but they came from places farther north where the marine layer is now eroded enough to find them.

The third experience was an electric trolley ride out to the Gorge Outpost, a couple of km from the main centre.

 

Shuttle trolley re-sized

The shuttle trolley we went on

 

There is a walkway next to the gorge with plaques with info on various dinosaurs, and a reproduction of a bog with dinosaur bones on the surface.

 

Billabong fossilsre-sized

Reproduction of a dried swamp with dinosaur bones

 

There were many opportunities to photograph the differences between the “Jump-up”, or mesa, on which the centre was built, and the surrounding flat plains which extend for many kilometres in every direction.

 

The plains re-sized

Looking across to the plains from the mesa

 

Gorge re-sized

Part of the gorge with ghost gums

 

There were also bronze pterosaurs sitting on a rock by their ‘nest’, and the various dinosaurs involved in the stampede that we saw the footprints of yesterday at Lark Quarry. It was all really well done. We were impressed.

 

Dinosaur chasing2 re-sized

The small therapods and ornithopodsdinosaurs flee from the carnivorous Australovenator wintonensis

Dinosaurs being chased re-sized

The gorge itself, whilst small, is beautiful. It clearly shows how the erosion of softer sandstone below gradually undermines the extremely hard ironstone cap on the surface of the mesa. The top eventually cracks and falls away, leaving boulders on the slopes.

 

Undercut re-sized

The hard cap of the mesa being gradually undermined by erosion of the softer stone beneath it

 

Rocks & plains re-sized

Ironstone boulders scattered on the slopes

 

If you love dinosaurs, the dinosaur museum is a great introduction to our Australian natives. In Winton, the Dinosaur Capital of Australia, you will find other sources of information. An especially evocative sight is at the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Stampede, which I will blog about when I get the chance.

 

(c) Linda Visman

Photos by Linda Visman

 

Those Cotton-pickin’ Multinationals!

July 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, Farming, Nature, Politics, Social Responsibility | 6 Comments
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We are on a four-week trip through western New South Wales and Queensland in our little Toyota HiAce camper. Currently, we are at Maraboon Lake caravan park near the town of Emerald in Central Queensland.

Van at Lake Maraboon Xsmall

Our van with the washing hanging out

As I was waiting for a washing machine to become available, I looked out over the lake, said to be the size of three Sydney Harbours, and noticed how low the water was. It was clear from the bare ground on my side and on the opposite shore that there is only a fraction of the volume it should have – and that was after good rains to the north that should have filled it.

Lake Maraboon Xsmall

Lake Maraboon – the bottom of the boat ramp is about 25 metres back up the slope.

Another camper came to get her washing from the machines and we got talking. She said the water was noticeably down from when she was here last year, and that it is at only 15% of capacity now (it is officially at 18.2%). It is no wonder the park – and probably the town of Emerald too – is under severe restrictions on water use.

 

I mentioned the large cotton farm to the east of Emerald that we had passed on our way here yesterday and how stupid it is to grow cotton in such dry country. She agreed. “It’s not even a food crop”, she said, “and they’ll export it all to make cotton clothing in Bangladesh. Then we’ll have to import the finished products as we don’t have a clothing industry any more.”

 

Cotton near Emerald July 11. 2019 Xsmall

This photo was taken at a distance. Those yellow-wrapped cotton bales are huge!

I could only agree that it is all so terribly wrong stupid. Exporting cotton is, in reality, exporting our scarce and valuable water. All the profits will go overseas and we will just be left with the costs, which are huge. Unemployment, and loss of national and local income to the multinationals who don’t even pay tax on their profits but get subsidies instead. Even worse, much worse, is the cost to the environment and our surface and artesian water systems.

It has been a while since I drove over the dry Hay plains in western NSW, but the woman I was speaking with had been there recently. She said that the plains are now a sea of huge cotton farms with similarly huge dams that take the water from the Murrumbidgee River. No wonder the whole Murray-Darling river system, which drains much of north-western Queensland and NSW and of which the Murrumbidgee is part, is in dire straits.

Riverine water levels are terribly low, millions of fish have died, and whole towns have been left without a water supply, and all because of the billions of litres that go to irrigate the cotton fields. Check this article.

The cotton growers say it isn’t their fault, that they are farming sustainably [HAH!]. Governments, both state and federal, allow this destruction to continue, even promote it, and then cover up the extent of the damage to the environment.

As long as the multinationals are allowed to plunder this country for their own benefit and at the expense of the environment, and as long as our weak and venial governments allow this to happen, in order to get political power, our land, then our water, our wildlife and our people have little chance of surviving, especially in the current situation of climate change.

Cotton near Emerald July small

These cotton bales are about two metres in diameter, and there were hundreds of them

When will we ever learn?

 

(c) Photos by Dirk & Linda Visman

Trying to Keep Warm – a memoir scrap

June 4, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Posted in 1950s, 1960s, Australia, England, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Migration, Ways of Living | 14 Comments
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Before we came from England to Australia in 1954, we lived in a two-up, two-down in a row of terrace houses. These were built of stone, which made for quite good insulation in a Lancashire winter. We also had piped gas heating, an upgrade from the original coal fireplace. We could keep warm there, as well as dry the washing on rails that could be lowered to load then raised to get the benefit of the heat below the ceiling.

Our clothing and footwear were also designed to keep out the cold when we went outdoors in the ice and snow and the cold wind and rain. Although we girls had to wear dresses, I remember also wearing button-up soft leather leggings, woollen coats, gloves and socks and leather shoes.

In Australia, we lived for a couple of years in a tiny caravan before graduating to a tiny three-roomed cottage that Dad gradually added more rooms to. The cottage was constructed of asbestos fibro and weatherboard. It, like the caravan, was not insulated from either hot or cold.

Linda Confirmation.1958-350

Me on my confirmation day outside our house, 1958

For the first year or two, we didn’t have to wear heavy clothing for winter and we were rarely cold. However, as we acclimatized to the milder climate, we started to feel the cold of winter much more. We no longer had the thick jumpers, coats and leggings we had worn in England, nor did we have the warm gas heating we’d been used to there. Even more,  the wooden floorboards and the lack of insulation in the thin walls and ceilings allowed the cold to penetrate into every part of our home. It was darned cold, and there was nowhere to put in a coal or wood stove.

My parents did purchase a Fyreside kerosene heater, the name of which implied more heat than it actually produced. In the back of the heater, under the cover, was a thick glass bottle with a wire handle to lift it out with. You had to fill the bottle with kerosene from a tin you’d get filled up at the petrol station. You had to put the bottle in upside down, so that the kero would feed through to wick at the front of the heater You’d light the wick, then place the round piece with the coil in it on top. The coil would heat up and glow red. The heat thus generated would be reflected into the room by the shiny metal reflector behind the coil. All that was in theory of course.

The smell of the kerosene itself was bad enough, but once it was lit, the heater often generated smoke and fumes that would either make you feel ill or make your eyes sting. I’m sure it couldn’t have been very healthy, especially in an enclosed space. If the kerosene ran out and the wick went out, you had to wait until the heater cooled before re-filling the bottle (if you had some kero on hand), by which time the any warmth had been sucked out of the air.

Fyreside heater 1950-60s crop

The living room where the heater sat and kitchen were open to each other, so the area (even though not large) was too much to heat and anyway, much of the heat went up to the ceiling which had no insulation. The only way to feel any warmth was to stand right in front of it – and then it would burn your legs, but leave the rest of you cold. But there were at least six of us, and sometimes up to twelve people living in the house, so the kids didn’t get to stand that close. We still had to wear warm clothing and even coats inside.

The heater always had to be turned off at night, and any heat it had generated hadn’t reached our closed-off bedroom. I remember many a time going to bed with only two old, thin wool ex-army blankets and no upper sheet to cover me. I would shiver and never seem able to get warm. My brother and two sisters were the same. Then we would find anything we could to cover ourselves more – usually there was only our not-very-thick coat. We got used to being cold. Eventually, Mum could afford chenille bedspreads for us all.

I suppose the heater did make a difference, enough at least to stop us freezing, but I remember having chilblains on my toes for most of every winter. These heaters couldn’t be called safe, and caused quite a few house fires if left burning without supervision or if drying clothes were too close to the heater. Mum was always scared that would happen, so she only lit it when absolutely necessary.

With the cost of electric heating, these kero heaters were the cheapest source of warmth available at the time. Many people my age now recall them and their smell with a mixture of horror and nostalgia.

 

What kind of heating did you have when you were growing up?

 

(c) Linda Visman

 

 

The Price of Progress

April 4, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Australia, discrimination, divisions in society, Politics, Social Responsibility, Society, Ways of Living | 16 Comments
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This is a short story I wrote about power & powerlessness; rich vs poor. 

 

“Can’t you just admit that the Council laws are only meant to help the rich?”

“Of course they aren’t. You’re just like the rest, trying to find somebody to blame for your own shortcomings. Our city re-development is for the good of everyone; who wants to live in a slum? And our labour laws are fair and just. They reward those who put in the effort.”

His words seemed relaxed enough, and he appeared outwardly at ease. However, to the eyes of a keen observer, the Mayor’s impatience with the journalist’s questions showed in a brief narrowing of his eyes and a slight shuffle in his chair. He was tired of this incessant revisiting of the subject.

“It’s a pity those sixty people were made homeless when the old tenements were bulldozed, but there was nothing I could do about that. Those old buildings were an eyesore. How could we hold a major inter-city event with buildings like that still standing? We’d be laughed at.”

The fact that many, indeed most, of those former tenants had been forced to move derelict houses outside the city boundaries and were living there in squalid conditions was not his fault. His tenure as mayor had seen continual development and economic progress in the city. Many people had benefited from his social and industrial reforms.

“But those people can’t find a decent place to live now. They’re too poor.”

“True Kangans should be too proud to live in such conditions. Those people should get themselves a job like any other good citizen, instead of blaming the Council for their plight.”

“But Mayor, most of the men do have jobs.”

“Then what’s the problem? What are they carrying on about? Can’t they manage their money properly like sensible people?”

“Mayor, the only jobs they can get are menial ones, like cleaners, or factory labourers or hospitality work. Those jobs pay so little that no one can afford to even rent a decent house in the city.”

“Then they should work harder instead of whingeing. The reforms in the Council’s labour agreements means that if they work hard they’ll get more money.”

“That would be fine if the hourly rates were sufficient, but even when they work ten hours a day, they barely make enough to feed and clothe their families.”

“They signed individual agreements with the Council that they would work at those rates. They didn’t need to do that. They could have found other work.”

“There is no other work for them. They don’t have the education required for higher paying jobs.”

“They should have finished their education, just as I did, then they could have well paying jobs. Why should I be blamed for their indolence?”

“Their parents couldn’t afford to send them to high school, Your Worship. You abolished free secondary education, remember.”

“Education is never valued unless it has to be paid for. It’s not the Council’s role to provide free services. Anyway, that’s not the issue here.”

“It’s part of the problem, sir. If these people had been educated, they might have been able to bargain a little, at least at one time. Now, with your new laws, the employers have all the say. The workers don’t have a chance.”

“But of course the employers should have a say in how they run their businesses. They are the ones who are putting up their own money, after all. Look how much these companies have done for the people of this city. They’ve cut the cost of production so that goods are much cheaper. Why, I can buy a computer package now for half what it cost five years ago.”

“I’m not denying that, Your Grace. You certainly can, but those workers can’t. They get less money than they earned five years ago – a third of the pay, and they must work longer hours for it. They don’t even get a guaranteed fifteen-minute meal break, or annual holidays.”

“That’s their own fault. They took the jobs. They knew the conditions.”

“What I’m saying, sir, is that you’ve taken away the workers’ right to fair conditions. They are not allowed to unite to provide a common argument to help their cause. The employer just tells them that if they want the job they must accept the conditions. They are just like slaves.”

“Don’t be silly. That’s just using emotive language instead of reasoned argument. Now, if they need more money, then their wives can work. After all, we live in a city that values women’s input just as much as men’s.”

“The women who have children can’t go out to work, Mr Mayor. There’s no one to look after the children. You passed a law forbidding children to be left alone after that boy fell off the broken swing in the park and the parents threatened to sue the council.”

“That was a good law, just like the one forbidding parents to traumatise their children by smacking them on the wrist. If people can’t look after their children and keep them safe from abuse and danger, then the Council must pass laws to make them. Anyway, they can put them into child-care centres. The Council has wonderful facilities to care for children. It’s one of Kanga Council’s achievements that I pride myself on. My wife thinks the one our children attend every day is wonderful. She wouldn’t be able to go to the gym or to tennis or even to civic functions if we hadn’t established those centres.”

“Mr Mayor, you can afford child care at those centres, but these poor people can’t. The cost for one day there for one child is equal to what a woman can earn in a week.”

“Well I’m not to blame for that. The centres have to make ends meet.”

The mayor stood up and leaned across the desk.

“Look, young man, I’ve had enough of all this. You want me to back down and say that my, er, the Council’s policies, are to blame for those people living in disgusting conditions. That’s simply not true. Everyone makes a choice. If they’ve made the wrong one then they have to live with it. Now, thank you and good day.”

“Your Worship, before I go, can I ask you one last question?”

“All right, but that’s all. I have to get to a banquet for the Mayor of Yankey, who’s visiting for our Games.”

“Mr Morris, why do you think “fairness” and “justice” and “equality” are dirty words?”

 

4th April 2019

Writing Challenges

March 4, 2019 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Publishing, self-publishing, Writing, Writing and Life | 16 Comments
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When I discovered I really could write creative fiction back in 2005 at the age of fifty-seven, a flood-gate opened and words poured from my pen (I write my drafts by hand). I lost count of the number of short stories, poems, articles and memoir items I wrote over the following few years. And then I decided to write a novel, aimed at 10-16-year-olds, and things changed.

 

I wrote the following reflection in July 2011, when that first novel was about to go out into the world:

 

It took me four years to write Ben’s Challenge. All the way through, from the idea (it was originally going to be a short story) to the completion I had to battle to get it done. No, it’s not that I can’t write, or that it took many revisions, or that I didn’t know where the story was going and what I wanted it to do. And it’s not that I don’t know my grammar, punctuation and spelling either – I grew up in an era when schools taught that kind of thing. No, the problem was deeper than any or all of those.

My problem was a lack of confidence in myself, which manifested itself in many ways. The main issue I had to overcome was procrastination; after all, if I didn’t write, nobody could say it was rubbish, could they – and that included myself.

A life-long struggle with depression also helped make my self-doubts into mountains I was certain I couldn’t climb. Even when my critique group expressed admiration for my style of writing and for the story, I wasn’t able to relax and go with the flow.

Funnily enough, it was during my eighteen months of treatments for breast cancer that I wrote the most easily and with the most confidence. I suppose writing was no longer my sole focus, so I took the pressure off myself. My doubts became background noise, which I could often ignore. . .

 

After publishing Ben’s Challenge, it took me a couple of years to start on my next novel, this one for Young Adults. I had to work up the courage to see if the first book was just a one-off or if I was a “real writer”. As I had in writing that first one, I battled through self-doubt, bouts of depression and procrastination – again in spite of my writing critique partners’ and my husband’s support and encouragement. One period of not writing lasted for a whole year. As a result, it again took about four years before the book was finished. Thursday’s Child was published in February 2018 and those who have read it say it is an amazing and wonderful story – even better than the first one.

I have an idea for a follow-up to Thursday’s Child – a strong story line and again, challenging themes. I have written a few chapters, but am struggling to get moving on it. There always seems to be something more important to do – that’s the usual problem of procrastination, I suppose. You’d think that, after two well-received books, I would have confidence in myself; that the words would flow as they did fourteen years ago, but they don’t. I am scared that I won’t be able to pull it off again.

I know that if I really want the story to see the light of day, I must, as with the other stories, fight my way through the self-doubts, the fear and insecurity, and get on with the job. Or maybe I’ll just wait until after I’ve delivered my part of a panel presentation on self-publishing at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival in a month’s time. Then I’ll get stuck into it. Oh, that sounds like more procrastination though, doesn’t it? Mmmmm…

 

Linda Visman, 4th March 2019

 

Senses by the Lake

February 8, 2019 at 10:03 pm | Posted in Australia, Birds, Experiences, Leisure activities, Nature | 24 Comments
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I have just come across a couple of pages of notes that I wrote in my notebook back in September 2010 – Spring in my part of the world. I was taking a walk by the lake where I live, and along the way, I sat on a water-side bench seat, not far from a pub, a services club and a café. I opened myself to the sights, sounds and smells around me.

 

What I could see:

  • the placid surface of the lake, unruffled by wind, reflecting a blue sky;
  • the wake of a passing motorboat on the opposite side of the bay;
  • ripples from the boat carrying all the way to the shore;
  • a cormorant diving for fish;
  • a variety of boats, sail or motor, moored in the bay, moving gently in the moving boat’s wake;
  • people of all ages passing by, just going for a walk or heading to the nearby shops;
  • casuarinas and eucalypyts that grow near the edge of the lake;
  • the concrete walking path that follows the shoreline;
  • the green lawns of homes that stand back from the trees and pathway;
  • a sea eagle that soars high on invisible currents of air.

 

What I could hear:

  • Corellas screeching;
  • Traffic going by on the road;
  • Peewees’ piping call;
  • The warning cry of masked lapwings;
  • A budgerigar in a cage nearby;
  • ‘G’day and ‘Hello; from passers-by;
  • The squawk of rainbow lorikeets;
  • The rumble of a distant aircraft;
  • Noisy miners (birds) quarrelling;
  • The clatter of a two-stroke bicycle motor;
  • The distant cooing of doves;
  • The whine of a whipper-snipper and the ring of its cord against steel fence posts;
  • The slap of a leaping fish as it hit the water;
  • the soft chittering of Eastern rosellas from a eucalypt tree;
  • the musical warbling of magpies;
  • the unmistakable sound of a postie’s motor scooter as he does his rounds;
  • the ‘aak’ , ‘aak’ of seagulls as they fly over;
  • the burbling of an outboard motor and the sound of voices, as two men tie up a ‘tinny’ at the RSL jetty;
  • the ‘ko-ko-ko-ko’ of a kookaburra as it warns away the persistent noisy miners.

 

What I could smell:

  • The soft, warm scent of recently cut green grass;
  • A slight tang of salt in the air;
  • The odour of mud and weed, exposed by the tide;
  • The fresh, clean scent of the casuarina trees;
  • The gentle waft of spring on the breeze;
  • The tantalizing aroma of garlic from the pub’s restaurant;
  • The pungent smell of cigarette smoke from the club’s beer garden;
  • A wonderful aroma of fresh brewed coffee.

 

How fortunate I am to live in such a wonderful place, with nature as well as a small urban area around me. It is great to take a walk along the lake shore, no matter what the weather.

Self-fulfilling Prophecies

December 12, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Australia, divisions in society, History, Philosophy, Religion, Society, War and Conflict | 11 Comments
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My thoughts on a new news item

Trump Rally Cheers Because Jerusalem Move Will Launch Armageddon PATHEOS.COM

Comment 1:  This is where the Religious Right are taking us… RIGHT TO WAR….hoping in their stupid way that it is the final war that ends the world.

Comment 2:  Delusional fairy stories believed by the insane.

Comment 3:  Trouble is – some lunatics will use that to justify violence somewhere, and that could very well unleash armageddon. People are very good at fulfilling prophecies.

 

The story above was shared on Facebook a day or two ago, and a few of the comments led me to think about this whole Armageddon thing. So I wrote those thoughts and share them here.

 I think the last comment is right. The religious right believes the extremist words of prophecy in the Book of Revelations. They think that, as “Christians”, they expect they will be lifted to heaven when the world collapses, so they actively work towards that collapse in order to prove the prophesies were right.

It actually does seem inevitable that there will be an apocalypse of some kind, but you don’t have to be religious to see that, and it won’t be the kind of Armageddon the evangelicals are hoping for. It is the greed and intolerance of human nature and the desire for power and control over the masses and the means of wealth creation that are fuelling our own destruction, just as it has throughout history.

In recorded history the very same human traits have led to the fall of many nations and the rise of others. Those nations were not so intertwined as they are today. Instead, as Marshall McLuhan said over fifty years ago, we live in a global village. That village is now even more closely connected via almost instant communications networks.

It is this very increase in the population and the interdependence of nations that drives us to our own inevitable fall and to the rape & destruction of so much of our natural world. There is a struggle among the top dogs of the village to be the alpha, and they don’t care who gets hurt in the process.

I am sure that there have been prophets in almost every age who have foretold the end of the known world of their times. They didn’t need to have had a vison from some etheric entity to see what was before their eyes. As I write and talk about how the world is going to the edge of a precipice, I don’t believe I am a channel that is telling me that. There are no religious under- or overtones to what I am saying, apart from the use of religion as a power base. I am just stating the bleeding obvious.

But I also have some hope, little though it might be. Hope that it is the rational who will survive the end of the world as we know it. Hope that they will be the ones who will learn to live with the natural world and stop the destruction. Hope that somewhere in the future, any of my descendants who survive will create the world most of us wish we had now.

Of course, human nature being what it is, as those survivors grow & develop new societies, unless there has somehow been a genetic change in our brains, it will just start all over again.

Here is a poem I wrote over twelve years ago on how history repeats itself.

What History Lesson?

 

When looking at people throughout all the ages,

It’s clear that they go through the very same stages.

Just go back and look at our civilisations –

You’ll see the same problems throughout all nations.

 

One country gets stronger; thinks its ways are best;

Through warfare and conquest, it dominates the rest.

Time passes; it weakens, and its morals decay.

A new one takes over – it’s another dog’s day.

 

These cycles continue as centuries go by:

One nation brought low by another rising high.

Each struggles for power, takes its “god-given right”,

Before it cedes to another; that has risen in might.

 

Why Man cannot learn from the lessons of history,

but makes all the same mistakes is a mystery.

I suppose it is just that his nature won’t bend;

So, while Man’s on this earth, the destruction won’t end.

 

It will take far too long for our kind to evolve

To the stage where, as one, our dilemmas we’ll solve.

Before then, with our hate and our need for a fight,

We’ll have killed ourselves off, just to prove ourselves right.

© Linda Visman, April 2006

 

I wouldn’t mind hearing your views on this – but do keep it calm. 🙂

 

 

I came second!

November 12, 2018 at 7:00 am | Posted in Australia, History, Nature, Philosophy, Poetry, Reflections, The Red Centre | 19 Comments
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I recently entered a poem in a writing competition. The competition was the Alice Sinclair Memorial Writing Award, run by the Lake Macquarie branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) to which I belong. It was open to all writers throughout Australia.

I was very happy to be told I had gained second place in the Poetry section with my poem, “Tosca – Northern Territory”. It is about a special place in the Red Centre of Australia, where I have camped several times and gone rabbit shooting too. While there, I’d sit at the entry to a shallow cave on top of a rock outcrop, and feel the majesty and vastness of the land. This is where the poem originated, and where I always return when I see the red dust of Australia’s ancient Red Centre.

I received my award on Saturday at the FAW meeting. Here is part of what the judge’s report said:

The poem is “a tightly written, image-rich poem that brings the reader into the moment of perception with visual imagery while also creating a satisfying link to history and tradition”.

Here is my poem. Read it slowly, and see if you can feel the country, its immensity and its beauty.

 

Tosca – Northern Territory

 

Linda Visman

 

Rocky red hillside, broken and rough, lies beneath my feet;

grey-green weeds and shiny, baked mudstone around;

endless, pale blue summer skies above

this overhang in which I can lie but not stand;

 

its pebble-studded roof, blackened by countless Dreamtime fires,

slopes down a body-length inside to a floor

scattered with twigs, leaves and droppings

– wallaby or goanna – or drought-defying rabbits.

 

A perfect lookout this, for those now gone – and for me –

across a sweeping panorama of hard-packed red sand

broken by low-growing stands of grey mulga and gidgee,

spiky domes of spinifex, and shallow gullies

gouged by seasonal downpours.

 

Distant caw of devil-crows mournful on the breeze;

taste of sunburned dust on my tongue,

coarse and dry in my eyes and on my skin,

a red-orange pigment dusting everything with its brand,

burning into every pore and crevice of mind and body.

 

Near the top of this hill in a thirsty landscape,

down between and beneath the sheltering rocks,

lies life – a native well, seeping just enough water

to keep a small band of travellers from perishing of thirst,

 

Or to sustain the miners who extracted turquoise wealth

then left a football-field-sized white talc scar down on the flat.

A tin can, string attached, lies hidden behind a rock

– slake your thirst, then replace it for those to come.

 

The ground that appears devoid of life by day,

at night sparkles everywhere with its own stars

– thousands of spider eyes reflected in the moonlight;

and all around in the cool of evening after day’s dry heat

wafts the pungent smell of the gidgee tree.

 

In this country the spirits of the past remain,

not only in ancient, fossilised trilobites and ferns

trapped within the baked mudstone of long-dried seabeds,

nor the deep diamond-studded night-time vault

where earth and plants, man and animals were born.

 

The Dreaming lives on in every leaf and twig,

every crow and crested pigeon, every spider, ant and lizard;

in the gales and cooling breezes and every drop of rain,

in every rock and every speck of seeping red dust.

 

How fleeting am I in this eternal place, and how tiny in its immensity!

 

(c) Linda Visman, 2018

A Sixteen-year-old’s response to “Thursday’s Child”

September 23, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Australia, book reviews, discrimination, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Reading, Social mores, Writing and Life | 7 Comments
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I had a great chat with my friend and her granddaughter, yesterday. We talked about my novel, “Thursday’s Child” which Natasha, who is in Year 10 high school, had recently read, along with my first novel, “Ben’s Challenge”.  Natasha told me what she thought were the issues raised throughout “Thursday’s Child”. We discussed the conditions most girls and women faced back in early 1960s and compared them with what they face today.

Natasha had written her thoughts on the book before we met, in the form of a review , and she said I could share it on my blog. I am really pleased to present the thoughts of a reader from the demographic my book is targeted at. Thank you Tasha.

 

*     *     *     *     *

Review of “Thursday’s Child” by Natasha Ireland

 

Thursday’s Child, by Linda Visman. Is a story of a teenage girl named Tori who faces many challenges around education and having to be brought up with a family on the poverty line. The biggest challenge she faces is the consequence of a violent incident which she experiences at the beginning of the story. Visman exposes her central character to many valuable lessons that come through the hardship that is face by Tori and how she is able to overcome this towards the end of the story.

 

Tori has many different people who influence her life in good and bad ways. The story shows how the men in her life have not impacted her life in a good way as life in the 1960s was tough for Tori ue to sexism and inequality towards women. Even her own father shows her no sympathy despite her terrible dilemma. He doesn’t care about what Tori wants or how important her education will be for her future. Tori’s mother says to her, “It’s not fair at all. But that’s what the law says. The man makes the decisions and we have to abide by ‘em”.

 

Tori’s treatment helps women of our generation now to understand how far women have come from those days and how many more opportunities we can have. Although this issue is still continued in certain countries, women over time will work to dismiss this issue for good.

 

The story will help boys to understand how difficult life was and can still be for women. This could explain many terrible issues women face and help them to respect us more equally.

 

Rape, abuse and unwanted pregnancy are a few of the major disadvantages of women in Tori’s time. However, Visman wants the reader to see how much of an independent and tough woman Tori becomes through the story after the stressful events that have taken place in her life. Increasingly empowered, she continues to do anything she can to do what is right for her and does not surrender to the force of the men in her life.

 

The protagonist is a bright and intelligent girl who is trapped in the reality of her times. She recognises her escape is through her education. She is a remarkable role model for self-determination and courage.

 

Natasha Ireland, Year 10.

 

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