Footy Pointy End and A Little Star

The days are longer now, with sunset happening well past 6pm, inching towards the 6.30pm mark. It has become a little warmer but it stil gets chilly in the morning.

Last Friday, as Victoria and Perth warmed up to see which teams end up with the big dance, the office had its monthly Friday drinks and nibble. Staff were encouraged to come with their team colours but the only colour I was interested in was red, as I finished my two glasses of red fairly quickly and got out to leave for home and catch up with Jason and Mel for dinner at a restaurant where there will be a big screen TV for the first match up between the Tigers and the Pies.

It was good as usual, as Tress and I got to the restaurant and Jason and Mel joined us a little later. We ate and talked and caught up but to all of our surprise (including the group on the table next to us) the Pies swamped the Tigers and by half time, the lead looked insurmountable. We watched the second half at home and tried as they did, Tigers couldn’t reverse the outcome and Pies got up. Some even started saying they’d be favourites for the flag this year. What a reversal of fortune for Buckley their coach, and the rest of the team.

Collingwood (Magpies – “Pies” – are their mascot bird, the black and white team colours reflecting this) is to the AFL what Man Utd is to the EPL. It’s the team everyone loves to hate. The “ABU” – anyone but United – probably has its equivalent here as the “ABC” – Anyone but Collingwood. When we first got here, some colleagues in my earlier workplaces tried to convince me to go with them. We were living however, where most went for the Hawks, and I quite liked their more low keyed DNA. Having “adopted” them not long after that, the 2008 flag and Crawford’s “That’s what I’m talking about at the medal presentation sealed it for me. Collingwood has Eddie McGuire as it’s President/Chairman and McGuire is a local TV player and star. He presents popular shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and started the Footy Show which for many years, was the only show of its kind for AFL. He also ran Channel 9 for a while and remains an influential personality in many Melbourne circles.

On Sat Tress and I went and looked at a couple of units. One was in Croydon East, which was a bit small and has a very large tree in a corner of their backyard. The other is close to our home and is larger but costs more. We liked the second one better but we’ll see what happens. We went back home around 11am and started to work on the outside of the house. I did the usual hedge trimming/lowering, mowing, tidying etc while Tress did a truckload of weeding. We finished up after 2pm, cleaned up, and went for lunch at a really nice Vietnamese joint. Then it was back home for the second preliminary finals game between Eagles  and Demons. The Dees crumbled and it was all over by half-time, with a deficit of 10 or so goals. I said to Tress we could do our grocery shopping then, no point watching the second half. But we soldiered on and finished the game, with West Coast Eagles thumping the Demons to meet the Pies this Saturday – the One Day in September.

Sunday after St Alf’s and lunch, we headed into the city to catch the double billing of the VFLW and VFL Grand Finals. The former is the women’s competition and the VFL is the “reserve” teams competition. Often, AFL first team players would use this forum to test various aspect of a player’s readiness. The quality is reasonably high and nearly 13,000 of us rocked up at the Etihad (now renamed Marvel Stadium) to watch the Box Hill Hawks get up against the Casey Demons. It must be hard for the Demons to lose 2 games on the trot like that but Hawks got up for the women’s competition as well so that was a great afternoon for Hawks to end the season. Hopefully the senior team follow suit in 2019.

Back home after the game, it had gotten a bit dark and I hurried with walking the little guy as Tress prepped for this morning’s brekkie and I made my sangers when I got home later.

At St Alf’s Peter had spoken on Ecclesiastes 11. The message  was one of “getting on with it” instead of waiting for God to perfectly align the stars before making the first move. Do, not wait, appears to be the mantra. But at the same time, that passage extolled the virtues of prudence, of spreading the risks, acknowledging the place of wisdom and contemplation. It feels funny because that has how I have always moved on. And yet, I often feel I had to wait for more stars to align – not necessarily requiring all stars – before making the “big” moves. For now however, I am merely waiting on Him. After the service, Shirley came up to Tress and I to speak about a young couple with whom we have been coming alongside for their work in northern Thailand. They’re finishing up the end of this year and I’ve been thinking about what to do with them going forwards so it was good Shirley approached us to discuss. Maybe this is one star I was waiting, so I’m thinking we move with this for now…


Footy season ends (for Hawks) and the Bible’s effect on Aboriginals

Tress and I were at the G last Friday night – we watched the Hawks’ last game of the season. For the second time in 3 years, they went out in straight sets in September. Back in 2016, the Doggies took us out and went on to win the flag. Will the Dees do likewise? The tune of their song ringing in both Tress’ and my heads may mean something.

Saturday we slept in and had relatively R&R at home. We had to fix a couple of downlights in the bathroom, and so we swapped out some LED globes from the lounge, to sort of identify the problem. It turned out it was a switch problem outside the bathroom. The other switch, inside the bathroom, worked ok and so we put the globes back in and made sure we only used the inside switch, taping over the other one to prevent accidental use.

We then went to Mount Waverley for a really good pho lunch. We hadnt been to MW for ages and just pulling into the shops where the Vietnamese restaurant is, evoked some old memories. The pho was delicious and was perfect antidote to a wet and cold day.

We then went to GW for some grocery shopping and then idled away the rest of the day at home, watching a streaming movie starring Jamie Foxx (“Sleepless”). Later that night, we caught the Pies v Giants game on tele. It was a cracker too and the Pies got up, earning the right to a blockbuster with the Tigers this coming Friday night.

On Sunday after St Alf’s and our usual lunch spot, we got home and took the little one for a walk. The weather had turned and it was a beautiful sunny day, although it remained cold. We then pottered around the house – Tress did some weeding while I wiped down the little Miata – before I did the cooking for the week’s lunches.

This morning, I returned to reading my current book with renewed focus. Meredith Lake’s “The Bible in Australia” has been a joy and rich source of information to educate me on another level of Australian history, this time told from the perspective of the Bible’s journey into and through Australian lives.

The part about how the Bible influenced many indigenous persons and communities, was fascinating. It turned out that the person whose picture adorns our $50 notes, is David Unaipon, an indigenous lay preacher, inventor and cultural icon of sorts.

David Unaipon
David Unaipon on the AUD50 note. He was an indigenous person whose life was changed by the Bible. It started with his father (Ngunatponi) who was an Aboriginal evangelist

His father -Ngunaitponi – was an evangelist – one of many Aboriginal persons and tribes influenced by the Bible. I looked up David Unaipon a little bit and it really is interesting that the trajectory of Aboriginals who are touched by the Bible, is very different to those activists who want to look at it from a different prism. It really leads to the challenge to objectively assess what is good. Not all cultures are equal in terms of the objective good they bring. If there is honest assessment, I believe the impact of the Bible on indigenous lives, is for the better and those influenced by it will want a different outcome to indigenous well being.

Footy Finals and Two Kinds of Nervous

September is a nervous month for many football fans. On Friday morning, I slept in and so I caught a morning breakfast TV interview the host was having with a popular radio talkback host, Neil Mitchell. Neil is a Melbourne Demons fan and Neil said he was nervous, as his team prepared to play Geelong in the first elimination final.

I was nervous too, the day before. I went straight from work to the G on Thursday night, and copped both the rain and a shellacking. The Hawks played really poorly and went down to the Tigers.

At work on Friday, I was off coloured – tired and deflated. That night however, Tress and I caught up with Jason and Mel and A Hooi and U Marloney for dinner and it was very good to meet them and catch up again, so I felt a whole lot better for it.

On Saturday, I went to St Alf’s for sweeping/yard cleaning duty but there was a wedding on so the cleaning was already done. We then kept an appointment with our tax agents, who delivered some bad news. It is painful to be shown how much tax we both have to pay, and it angered me we’re funding some pretty stupid politicians for their shenanigans, with the amount of taxes we cough up. It hurts even as I write this.

We left the tax agents just after noon, got lunch and did some grocery shopping, and then went home for some gardening. Our garden has been neglected for much of winter and I had wanted to reduce the height of our James Sterling hedges. The afternoon was a touch cloudy and cool so it was very nice to stay outside and just work away.

I kept working when the Swans v Giants game started, listening to the first quarter on the radio. I couldn’t stay away from watching the game for too long however, so towards the end of that quarter, I cleaned up and watched the rest of the game on TV. Giants were very good in killing of the Swans, keeping Franklin goalless for much of the game. Swans only had 8 points to almost the end of the game, before a couple of quick late goals made them look more respectable.

Later that night, the West Coast hosted the Pies and it was, to me, the game of the finals so far. The Eagles got up, but the Pies had led by 2 points with 6 minutes to go. I was glued to the TV, even as Tress had gone to bed in the last quarter.

On Sunday at St Alf’s we listened to a speaker with an unusual name. Frog Orr-Ewing is a clergy from Oxford. He is a contemporary of Bear Grylls and they both grew up in the same faith community and jokes about Frog and Bear were easy picking. He was a very good speaker and I later learned he and his wife Amy have written well received books. I must look out for and keep them in my reading list.

Frog did a bit of an altar call thing towards the end of the service and Ginny too, made some points about going out of our usual day to day boundaries to do stuff for Him. This has been resonating for a little while now but the threshold to overcome and actually do something, feels unbearably high. I don’t know how to start.

Tress and I decided to cook some bak kut teh for this week’s lunches so yesterday arvo was a big cookout as I did the BKT on the pressure cooker, did a big pot of stir dry cabbage on a second pot, and cooked brown rice in the rice cooker. All dishes packed away in the freezer and washing done, we finally settled in to get ready for the start of the working week again.

This morning as I jumped online to get tickets for Hawks’ semi-final against Melbourne this Friday, I wondered about what lies ahead. September can fly past in a blur if your team is involved in the finals and stays a bit.

As Tress and I talked about going home to be with her mum in cup week and I read my cousin Joanne’s FB posts about her late mum (my aunt who died over a week ago), I’m grateful for a blurringly quick passing September but I’m also restless about my inability to cross that threshold to do more for Him, with the increasingly less time I now have. I get nervous for a different reason when that happens. Unlike football, there is no next year/season to provide hope fpr comfort. I should therefore be even more nervous, than footy fans get in September.

James Cook and the Bible

I’ve just picked up Meredith Lake’s “The Bible in Australia – A Cultural History” and it has been fascinating. It sounds like a strong contender for the best book I’d read this year.

Cook’s journal on the Endeavour proved to be more than just a record of his voyages and “conquests”. It became a catalyst for someone like William Carey who went on to do great missionary work in India. The Bible was such a central drive for tremendous long term impact, that it is little wonder efforts to tear it down, are consistently strong.

Maybe, there in an undertone to anti-Christian thoughts and action, that underpinned recent denouncements of Cook. If his life, work and activities incorporated the Bible in such a central way, denouncing him could well tear that piece down too.


Grey Melbourne and grim news from Klang

The calendar says winter is over and today’s the third day of spring. God’s creation however, not the calendar, dictates the weather; it was still very cold over the weekend. And grey too.

Tress and I went to a local pub styled restaurant just across the road from the station on Friday night. We had a good dinner, wound down the week and chatted. We then went home and having had a long busy week, we were both tired and the good feed set us up for a quiet night to sleep early and recharge our batteries.

I had trouble sleeping however, and some-time in the middle of the night, Tress let out a small “oh no”. Kuan Kuan – wife of Henry, my “7th” chek, had passed away in a hospital in Malaysia. She was operated on earlier in the week, for colon cancer. The operation was a bit more involved than expected but she was expected to make good recovery. Her passing was, therefore, a shock and we took the rest of the weekend to digest the news.
The grey weekend probably reflected our mood from then on. LBJ had his grooming session early on Sat, and we pottered around and when he was finished, Tress and I trekked east to Ringwood where I was strapped in for my now monthly plasma donation.

We had planned to cook a pork rib congee and had wanted to get to an Asian butcher for the ribs. So on the way back from the Red Cross in Ringwood, we decided to drop in the new Glen again. We were there some weeks ago and the ribs we picked up from the Asian butcher was pretty good. We shopped there, then had lunch in the very busy food area in the same building, before coming home and prepping the ribs and other shopping we had done.

We then went for an appointment to see my optometrist, my vision having had occasional less than 100%. While prepping the ribs however, Kiddo rang on occasion of it having been father’s day yesterday. We chatted for a little bit before we head off for my appointment. My vision was only slightly worse and the very honest optometrist said he didn’t think I needed new glasses so we came back.

Tress had been busy prepping to lead the discussion this week and she also kept up with her make belief ghost buster role on imaginative creatures residing mainly on her mobile phone. So through the weekend, she alternated between those two tasks.

Later that Sat night, we went and saw the new movie that was latest hit. “Crazy Rich Asians” was the first mainstream Hollywood all-Asian cast feature film and it was shot in Malaysia and Singapore. Those factors made many of our friends catch the movie and to our surprise, when we went to our seats, we found ourselves seated next to John and his wife Siew. John is Henry’s cousin and he recently vacated the Board of an NFP, which I stepped into. So the coincidences were a bit creepy.

The movie was a lot of fun but other than those features which made it special, it was pretty ordinary stuff. Movies in Melbourne can be expensive on weekends and that feature on a Saturday night was more than $40. As an occasional treat it was fine.

On Sunday it remained wet and cold and St Alf’s had Andy and Mif Little back from MAF in Mareeba. Andy spoke on Colossians 3 and his simple message of keeping our minds on things of God as a means to doing all things as though we’re doing it for Christ, made a lot of sense. It is something I have to try harder at. With help from the third person of the godhead, of course.
After lunch at our usual place, we did a bit more grocery shopping and had coffee, after which we bumped into Barry and Patricia, whom we haven’t met for a while. Their daughter Stephanie is almost as tall as Patricia now and it was good to see them again.

Back home later that arvo, I cooked the congee, packed them away for the week’s lunches, did a minimalist vacuum, and Tress built up her discussion notes and the hunt in her parallel universe. We then put our feet up to watch some tele and caught up again on social media, refreshing our updates on the sad news around my “7 Chim”. She was a beautiful person in all sense, but life is fleeting and often appears bewilderingly senseless, if viewed from other than who God is and what he’s doing.

Sai Lang at the SCG

There was an office drinks starting at 4pm last Friday. It was perfect for the start of our weekend away, as it allowed me to get away a touch earlier. I took off and headed home a bit after 4pm, and a bit after 5.30pm, Tress and I hopped into our car and drove to Tullamarine.

Friday traffic through the city was murder and a multi vehicle pile-up on the Tullamarine freeway didn’t help but we had given ourselves plenty of time and we were expecting the crawl so that managed expectations and helped. We eventually got into the airport a bit after 7pm and by the time we left the long-term carpark shuttle bus to head into the lounge, we were a bit peckish. I got stuck straight away into a pasta salad and the pinot noir on offer wasn’t too shabby either. That set us up for the flight up to Sydney to start our footy weekend away.

We got into hotel very late, so we pretty much crashed out straight away. The next morning, we walked through Hyde Park, took in St Mary’s Cathedral and generally walked around the area. We looked up an app for a coffee/brekky place and found a hole in the wall in Alberta Street, just off Goulburn Street. “Cre-Asion” was a funky Asian café specialising on all things matcha. I had a sanger and Tress had her usual avo on toast and eggs and the food was a ripper. So we had a great feed before heading back to the hotel to freshen up.

When we got into the lobby of the hotel I saw Isaac Smith in the bar/café, talking into this mobile. It then hit me that we were staying in the same hotel with the team. So I hung around the lobby while Tress headed up into our room to freshen up. Seeing players walk through the lobby was quite fun – other than Izzy, Roughie, Shields, O’Meara, Impey and coach Ratten walked past me on the lobby.

Later that arvo we trekked into the heart of the city, had another feed in a Malaysian restaurant, and walked through the city. Tress was super productive in chalking up the kills and points on her phone game and while in the QV building, we saw dozens of folks – including middle aged and greying male adults – firing away on their phone playing the same game.

We got back to the hotel, changed and when it was time, headed to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the showdown. Hawks and Swans were gunning for 4th spot on the ladder, which would secure the victor 2 chances at progressing in the finals. So it was an important game.

The SCG was smaller than the MCG, so while the crowd was “only” around 40,000, it felt a lot more crowded and the cosy, more intimate feel of the place was quite nice. We found our seats, and felt intimidated by the sea of red and white all around us. The brown and gold was very much in the minority and when more Hawks fan turned up on our row, we felt a lot better.

For much of the game, the partisan crowd helped the Swans keep their lead – for as many as 26 points. It was only in the last quarter the Hawks stemmed and turned the tide, eventually edging ahead and winning by 9 points. Singing and hearing the Happy Hawks song after the final siren felt wonderfully different.

After the game, the crowd leaving the small ground created a bigger sense of congestion than the MCG. Tress and I decided to walk back to the hotel. It was only about 2km anyway and the streets were crowded. We had to walk past Oxford Street and the Saturday night buzz was alight. We had noticed the strong LGBT presence while walking past the same strip earlier that morning but walking through it again at night was something else. Long queues of patrons outside many clubs, screened by big, mean looking security teams while loud thumping music and strobing lights throbbed and thrusted outwards, made me glad our night is over, instead of having just begun. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel to read up on match reports.

We got back, showered and changed into our jammies and hit the sack around midnight.

The next morning we checked out, headed to the airport and in the lounge, again saw the player streaming in. I found myself standing next to Roughead at the salad bar, and said “well done Roughie” which he acknowledged and thanked me. Ditto when I walked back to our seats, and came up to Poppy who looked up and caught sight of me so I mumbled “well done Poppy” and he said thanks very much, sounding like he really meant it. They must have had a lot of practice…

In the plane, we were surrounded by players and it was an amazing experience. Back in Tullmarine, journos were waiting at the arrival hall and it was fun to be where it all was happening. Seeing Shields later in the evening news sports section felt different, having been there ourselves with the mob earlier that day. Tress and I felt and at times, behaved, more like excited 5 year old’s.

We caught lunch in our usual Sunday haunt in Doncaster, did some quick grocery shopping and then headed home to unpack and fetched the little black jedi from the sitter.

Before the last weekend, I was at the SCG about 30 years ago, when I was at a cricket match. Incredibly, Australia beat the mighty West Indies with Allan Border bowling (yes it happened) us to a famous victory. 30 years on, the SCG has been prettied up a little, looking a little more modern now but the traditional feel remained. Being there to watch a really good game of footy, with Tress there next to me, provided a truly magical and memorable weekend away.

We met LBJ’s sitter at the oval and finishing the weekend amongst the many pooches running around in the oval was magical in a different way. As cold as it was this morning (only about 1.5deg) it felt like spring’s just around the corner, in more ways than one. Being interested in footy finals again will be a great start.

Cold but warm

The apps suggest the temperatures over the weekend were low, and it was certainly cold, but I thought I felt the cold a lot more, and harsher. I wondered if it was the deteriorated fitness level, or general ageing.

Our backyard, and generally the outside of our home, has been needing some attention for a while now. We have been busy with various things but last weekend was one when we didn’t have much on so I had wanted to do basic stuff like pruning, cutting and mowing, along with sweeping and maybe weeding/edging – you know, the usual summer/warmer days-is/are-coming sort of activities. The very cold and wet conditions however, thrashed my plans so we turned indoor instead.

We had grilled some fish a couple of weeks ago and the smell had not abated no matter what we did. So the cleaning started with Tress removing the filters of the range hood several days ago, and she soaked and cleaned them. On Sat morning, I wiped the insides of the hood before inserting the filters back in. That lead to further cleaning along the sides/top of the hood and it continued with the turbo oven unit, where I gave the lid several rounds of scrubbing. The large bowl had a good clean too. Then it was the usual vacuuming and wiping down of surfaces etc. Cleaning is good for the soul, it has been said. It felt good as when we finished, staying home through the wet and cold weekend felt much better.

Yesterday, Mark Sneddon delivered the sermon on Ecclesiastes 4. He provided context and perspectives which drew various matters into focus. His citing of the numerous events showing up man’s failures, which in turn illustrated the “vanity” of struggles, was ironically refreshing as it only reinforced the pointlessness of the angst shown over various unpleasant things around us. Businessmen and politicians’ bad behaviour should not have produced the sort of despair and anger we’ve seen. That is not to say we tolerate or accept such behaviour but in accepting man’s fundamental “fallen-ness”, we will be better equipped to continue to rely on God, his work and his purpose as the raison d’etre for our being.

That is a lesson I am increasingly learning and putting into practice, even as I bury my head in everyday toil and living and letting events just run past me.

I’ve been feeling colder than I remember but inside, there’s an amber of warm glow. The amber which illuminates my constant need for change, to become more like our maker.

What’s in a name? A rose…sweet

Mei, my youngest sibling, celebrated her birthday recently. We were sent a couple of pics. They were the usual family pics, taken in a restaurant for the occasion. A nephew (YJ) was in that pic, showing a rare smile. We visited that boy when he was a little toddler living in Shenzhen, some 8-9 years ago.
This morning as I looked at my phone and saw that message thread again, I tried to work out how old Mei is now. As I often do, the next arithmetic I did was to figure out how old my dad was, when Mei was born.

Mei is sort of a nickname my mum gave my youngest sister. Her formal name is Cheng Sim. I wondered if that name reflected my dad’s thoughts at that time or was it my mum’s. I wondered if it was more an aspirational name, than one which reflected the state of my parent’s lives.

He was 34 years old when Mei was born. By today’s measure, that is an age when one is firing on all cylinders, building a career and probably a family. Back in the early 70’s I cannot imagine it was materially different. Dad would have been working hard to build on both his business and his family. My brother, the eldest, was only 8 years old. When you’re 34 and a father of 4 kids with the oldest being 8 years old, your whole life is ahead of you, with loads of hard work to get through. So I wondered if that name – Cheng Sim – was more aspirational, perhaps for Mei.

I don’t know if Mei’s life now is in a state of “equilibristical” equanimity. Goh’s in China for the most part, YY her eldest, is doing his O-levels equivalent this year and she lives with mum, who I gather from my sister in law, sometimes withdraw from daily activities Mei’s involved in where her boys are concerned. I think there’s the simple everyday differences of thoughts and actions in chores like cooking and cleaning and if I remember my mum’s demeanour, the withdrawal is probably to minimise hotspots. You know – conflict resolution by minimising points of contact. More so than a lack of interest in Mei’s life. Whatever the reason, if it doesn’t add to Mei’s state of mind in a way that detracts from her formal name, that in itself is a feat in my books.

Last Sunday Mike McNamara spoke on Ecclesiastes 3. He belted out a line of The Seekers’ famous song at one point. I wonder if the time when Mei’s state of mind is at one with her formal name, will come soon, or she’s already “living the dream”.

I remember saying to Kiddo, we sometimes live in an era of the “7 fat cows” and at other times, the “7 lean cows” reign. The phenomenon which sees our wellbeing and prosperity ebb and flow should have been obvious and givens, yet that is often an over optimistic expectation. Many feel the shock and pain of hard times. It is very difficult, during lean times, to lift up one’s head to look beyond the present drought.

I know that we were never rich, not by any stretch of any imagination. I distinctly remember the house we lived in when Mei was born. It was a rented house. The landlord was a teacher’s association and the house was very small, sparse and austere. That meant low rent. My mum stretched the dollar and my dad partitioned the front living room into two bedrooms. The actual bedrooms became store rooms for the wares my dad was hawking as a self-employed small businessman. He and mum often worked late into the night. One room had toys in large cardboard cartons. They were goods my dad traded in. Another room had re-packaged food stuffs. My dad dealt mainly with “Ve-Tsin” (a front runner of Aji Nomoto, an MSG), and baby formula. He bought large drums of both and repackaged them into smaller packs to be sold by small retailers in “kedai runcit” (sundry/provision shops) of villages across the country. The distributor was Harper Trading and deliveries of large drums of both would arrive intermittently. My dad would cart large drums with Ve-Tsin and/or powdered milk into one of the two rooms, remove the lids, and start divvying up the contents for re-packaging. Sometimes we helped with the latter task.

Tress often poked fun at my tendencies to buy new socks and undies. I believe these tendencies found their roots in that house when we were poor. My undergarments were often old, loose and tattered and I hardly ever had new ones. My “new items” were hand me downs, from either my brother or my uncles (dad and mum’s younger brothers). Loose socks and undies or those with holes, still make me totally uncomfortable, physically and psychologically.

Poor as we were, we were not unhappy as children. We sometimes had road trips, often just day trips but occasionally, we ventured all the way up north to Penang or down south to Singapore. A “Ching Clan Association” provided holiday “villas” at cheap rents and those trips were very memorable. Sleep-overs in grandparents places also burnished wonderful memories. The rickety upstairs rooms of the coffee shop just off the roundabout near the Klang Istana (my maternal grandparents’ home) and the estate manager’s bungalow in the middle of a rubber plantation (my paternal grandparents’) in Kampong Jawa were great cradles to create caches of consciousness. As I grow older, they are the memories which often come to the fore.

My wonderful childhood aside, it doesn’t take away the fact that we were poor. Dad, at 34 years old and with years of toil ahead of him to raise a young family, had the courage to name his youngest child Cheng Sim. Maybe it was aspirational for both him and mum, as well as for Mei. I hope (and believe) his last days were peaceful. Likewise, the days ahead for both mum and Mei.

Battles of sorts

It was Round 21 of the home and away season of the AFL competition. Hawks were playing their last home game of the season and we hadn’t been to too many games this season, so I said to Tress last week that we should go for this game. The weather didn’t seem promising but a game against the Cats, especially where the odds of the Cats winning were a lot shorter, would make it an engaging contest for the Hawks. So, we braved the grey, wet and cold conditions and went for the game. An early start (1.45pm) provided a small consolation.

The game was a ripper. We struggled at the start, kicking none in the first quarter but over the second and third, we built a 3-4 goal lead. The final quarter was pulsating as the Cats finally picked up their game and threatened to overhaul the deficit. Ceglar’s long clearance kick from just outside our own 50m arc, saw Poppy pumping those piston-like legs to chase it down the corridor and after some ground battles involving Izzie and Poppy, Henderson received a hand ball from Izzie and hand passed it to O’Meara to kick us back into a 2-goal lead. It wrapped things up for us and I cannot recall the last time the team song was belted out with such gusto around the G. It was sensational.

We had had what appears now to have become a usual Friday night dinner with Jason and Mel. This time, Tress had suggested we went to a Malaysian place we hadn’t been to for a while. We had familiar food, the usual warm company and as a bonus of sorts, we also bumped into Uncle Seng who was with his drinking buddies. They all looked inebriated and he even brought a couple of beers across to our t able. We wondered how they managed to get home as they all looked like they have imbibed, with no designated driver(s) in sight.

Sunday Mike continued talking about meaning as explored in Ecclesiastes. Andrew Jones spoke a little bit about plans to start an agri-business in Tanzania and he was leaving last night for a fact-finding trip of sorts. That’ll be interesting. There was also to be a talk by John Buchanan and Mark Sneddon on euthanasia laws but it was preparatory for a launch of a group called Australian Care Alliance, which would be later this month. As that event was to be on a weekday night in Balwyn North we decided we wouldn’t be able to take part.

So much is going on in this strange State we live in, with so much intent to do what would have been obviously wrong just a few years ago. Somehow, a Marxist like atheistic bent has taken hold and I now constantly feel helpless against this dark tide that crashes against the bedrock of all that many thought was, and still think is, good. Maybe like the perennial contest between the Hawks and the Cats, this battle will persist for as long as we can see.