Court Tussles


There are a handful of television shows I enjoy. Some of these are fun when I’m watching them with Tress. Some others I find enjoyable in themselves, and I would watch them even when I’m alone at home.

Other than some staple news, sports (and maybe food) shows, A US series titled “This is Us” is a current favourite. The other is “Have you been paying attention”. Both are on Channel 10 and perhaps not coincidentally, both follow the Master Chef shows. MC is Channel 10’s anchor and Tress and I are probably one of 1-2 million viewers on most nights. We typically prepare to go to bed as soon as MC is over but when I do stay up to watch some more TV, it is usually either of those two follow-on offerings.

MC finished relatively early last night and HYBPA came on after that, starting well before 9pm. I decided to watch a little bit before going to bed. I enjoyed what I saw but when a clip of Margaret Court came up, I found myself switching channels. I went to bed soon after.

Margaret Court recently made a statement about Alan Joyce and Qantas. She protested that both Alan Joyce and Qantas were pro same sex marriage, and said she would therefore, as much as possible, stop flying Qantas. Cue outcries galore. Calls for the famous tennis court in Melbourne Park to be stripped of her name (and call it Evonne Goolagong Arena?) came thick and fast. A popular local female player, openly gay, twitted “Enough is enough”, to wide support. This morning another leading local player suggested players may choose not to play in Margaret Court Arena, if the name remains.

I did not switch channel because I agreed with Margaret Court, (even though I kind of did) or because I disagreed with her (I kind of did too). I simply switched channel because I was tired of such protestations. I have a feeling many are starting to tire of such protestations, one way or the other. In as much as I yawn, stretch and get up to leave every time someone from an LGBTIQ quarter pipes up about marriage “equality”, I am also turning off voices going the other way, especially if they appear to be disproportionate and unnecessary. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks the crusades at the turn of the millennium hurt Christianity – more than promoted its cause. Stridency and polemics can, easily, hurt the message the crier wanted to convey.

Alan Joyce is a private citizen who is a business leader of a very large company. He is a successful business leader. So he has a loud voice, even if he claims that voice is his own and not that of Qantas. Nary a report about his support however, neglects to mention his position as the CEO of Qantas. If he lends his voice in a political cause (any cause that involves changing a law is necessarily a political cause), it appears to be an unfair advantage in that invariably, his voice takes off and lands on the considerable wings of the business organisation he leads. That advantage is especially unfair where a corresponding voice goes in the opposite direction.

Take the Coopers’ brewing outfit. All they did was to allow their product to be consumed while two genteel gentlemen have a chat about same sex marriage and that conversation is filmed and posted on social media. Whereas Qantas and its CEO were free to speak up in a political discourse, Coopers’ and their owners were pushed into a corner – so much so that the owners practically caved in with an embarrassing mea culpa.

So anyone who speaks up against that sort of unfair advantage is to be applauded. Somehow though, Court’s voice was derided and in some ways, it feels disproportionate. I wondered if she simply needed to say she disagreed with Joyce. I wondered if it was necessary to adopt the boycott or buy as a last resort approach. Or maybe that was irrelevant anyway. I thought we could simply exchange ideas, with each side proffering its views, without tacking some commercially driven or based action. Sure, you want to connect with the hip pocket nerves but this issue – as in many issues – has boiled down so much that I really thought all we should push for at this point in time, is that both sides should be given time and space to air their views.

It is when you throw in commercial rewards or penalties, that you drag in components that shackle the process of idea exchange so that it becomes less free than it ought to be. Just as we don’t want livelihoods of bakers and florists to be adversely impacted by their beliefs, we really don’t want to penalize those who hold different beliefs – no matter how miniscule or ineffective that penalty is to the cause. In fact, because it is so miniscule and ineffective it is counterproductive in that we concede ground (by allowing the arguments to be infected with commercial drivers) which we don’t have any advantage anyway.

So maybe it was a bit like skipping highlights of a game where your team lost, but even where the other team appears to be losing, I have lost interest in following the “arguments”, with the stridency, polemics and poor or unfair attempts to introduce pecuniary consequences. After all, I simply want to enjoy my TV shows without those un-pleasantries or nastiness.

William Rickett Sanctuary and Red Shield at Shoppo


It had been a strange week last week. Loads of work deadlines plus the spectre of leading the small group discussion on Thursday night at the Maury’s home. So on Friday, after a relatively low productivity arvo, I left a wee bit earlier than usual and Tress and I went for our go-to local Italian just down the main street not 10 minutes from our home.

I used to lead small group discussions on a weekly basis. Then, some 4-5 years ago, that stopped and since we started at St Alf’s back in early 2013, we have done very little, other than showing up in as many forum as we could. So the handful of small group discussions we’d lead to date had become the rare – and therefore stressful – lead occasions we’ve had. So when that was over after Thursday night, the weight off my shoulder was near tangible.

After a very relaxing dinner at Luigi’s joint, we went home to watch a very exciting Swans v Hawks game. Defeat to either team would have signalled a season’s end, even at this early stage. Lead by Burgoyne and Roughead, Hawthorn prevailed and continued its dominance in Sydney over the bloods and it was a happy finish, sporting wise, to the week as Man United had on Thursday morning, beaten Ajax in the Europa League final to sneak into Champions League qualification next year. My one-off subscription to “Be In Sports” (the game wasn’t on free to air) was worth every cent.

On Saturday, I hurried to the shopping centre near our home and did a hairy. A new lady attended to me this time and Tress and I are both happier with the outcome and my thinning top appears a little easier on the eye.

After getting home to freshen up, Tress and I took a drive to the Dandenongs. We had wanted to view a property there but late on Friday I received a message saying it had been sold. We went there anyway, but instead of property viewing, we checked out the William Ricketts sanctuary. His sculptures were beautiful but the assembly, lay-out, and the mountain ash gums and fern tree variants enveloping the area all combined to creat a weirdly eerie setting. I think the outcome is the now familiar sensation of a kingdom of sorts where the green god ruled, ever less surreptitiously.

We then left for lunch at the Olinda Café, where it was teaming and the crowds appeared excited to simply spend time amongst a busy lunchtime place. After lunch we walked through the town in Olinda. We’ve been coming to this area, on and off, for several years now and this time, I somehow feel the hippiness of the area has eased off. It has become a lot more touristy. The number of cyclists coming up has steadily increased, as have Melburnians from a wider source. We met a lady at William Ricketts sanctuary, who had come from the Macedon area – which would have been close to a 2-hour drive.

Later that arvo we did our usual grocery shopping and later that night we got on Netflix and chose a quirky Brian Cox movie known as “The Carer”. A young Hungarian lady who is also an aspiring thespian sneaked in as a carer for Brian Cox’s character – the ageing Shakespeare prince who apparently once played a searing and unforgettable King Lear. Now old and dying with Parkinson’s, the once revered actor slowly gravitates to his smart and warm carer. The young-lady-and-cranky-old-man formula somehow worked (for me) in this one.

Sunday after church and lunch at our usual spot, we did a couple of hours of volunteer work for the salvos. It was the salvos’ Red Shield appeal and we rattled the change can at shoppo. The very busy Sunday arvo crowd in Doncaster’s shopping haven was quite willing to respond and while my arm tired from endless rattling to rake in the roubles, it was a happy arvo.

Back home after that, we walked the little fellow, did some cooking, and cleaned up to ready ourselves for another week’s heads down grind.

A Special Relationship


Several days ago an extended family messaging group received a message from a cousin who has been working and living in the land with long white cloud. It was a wonderful (to me) news of her wedding to her long time partner. They’ve both been in NZ for a number of years and when we went down there for a holiday several years ago, we caught up with them both for a meal.

That cousin’s dad sent a response to that message overnight. It was a picture of a total dark screen, with no accompanying text. I wondered if that meant he was displeased or distraught with the wedding. I’ve heard second (or third) hand accounts of his displeasure with the relationship, as the man was a divorcee.

I was saying to Tress earlier that if I was my uncle, I’d be happy with the news although I’d be peeved at the surprise factor, especially if I was told the same time as everyone else. But then again I don’t know what his thoughts are and so there’s always a chance I’d react in a similar fashion under some circumstances.

Father/child is always a special relationship. At church yesterday it was an “all-age” service, meaning the kids ministry put on a special program. A couple of young girls put on a skit of some sort. One is a daughter of Mark, a member of the small group we go to. The other’s dad is an emerging superstar of some sort in the theological academic world. When the latter’s family came up to lead the congregational prayer I just got a sense that the young lady was such a confident, bright, articulate and talented person because of (at least partly) the stability of the father-daughter relationship. Likewise, we know what a special person Mark is, which explains his daughter’s similar characteristics.

On Saturday morning, the sun had shone unexpectedly (the bureau said it was going to rain) so we took LBJ for an extended walk around the neighbourhood. We walked past an auction property. After the walk I dropped by the local Bunnings to pick up some gardening stuff and later that day we rocked up for the auction. A bidder had his young kids around him, playing under the very tall gum trees. When he lost out, I said to Tress that would have been a wonderful home for that family. I wished quietly that the family would find a home soon, where the dad would have ample opportunity to nurture his kids and build a great relationship.

On Friday night, Tress and I found a Malaysian joint in Camberwell and got Jason and Mel and A Hooi and U Marloney to join us. We talked into the night and while the food was a bit average, I enjoyed just talking with old friends. We talked a bit about the scandal enveloping a tax commissioner and his son, who had scammed the tax office for over $165m. I guess that father-son relationship is a bit special in a different way.

Big Issues


Occasionally, St Alf’s holds a “Big Issues” night. One or more speakers, usually experts in their fields, speak on a… well, big issue. On Saturday night Tress and I went for one of those nights.

Earlier in the day we had busied ourselves with keeping the house tidy. The hedges have gone a bit hormonal and grown yet again. The last time I trimmed it had been before Kiddo’s wedding. It must have been easily 6 weeks, if not longer. LBJ also had his appointment with Amber for his quarterly trim and so by about 8.15, after LBJ was handed over for Amber to bring him into that cute little blue shuttle hooked to the back of her SUV, Tress and I finished up our brekky and got to work.

I had also lined up a visit to a unit on the foot of the Dandenongs – one of those places I hoped would afford me no more hedge trimming which involves climbing up and down a step ladder while lugging an increasingly heavy trimmer. That visit was to be between 12.30-1pm so when it was close to 12pm, I finished up – the hedges looked more presentable and lawns mowed – and we went to see that unit.

After the viewing we were subconsciously driving towards Madam K – which was a bit dumb as it would have been maybe 20-25km away – so Tress had a brainwave and suggested we went to a different place nearer to where we were – just a couple of km away. It was teeming when we got there so it was obviously very popular. After lunch we did our usual grocery shopping before we tore ourselves away from the couch at home and went for the Big Issues Night.

The big issue was the legalisation of assisted suicide/euthanasia in Vic and we had a couple of very eminent practitioners speak, both members of St Alf’s. JB is a highly qualified, experienced and decorated medical doctor/psychiatrist and MS is a senior lawyer, ex Crown Counsel of Victoria and now partner of a law firm as well as a founder director of a think-thank for civil society concerns. I guess one can say Saturday night was a richly rewarding 2 hours and a far cry from a day of gardening, footy following and such other more down to earth pursuits.

We learned a ministerial advisory panel had been set up, will finalise its report sometime in the next month or so and would by July, introduce draft legislation to legalise assisted suicide. We learned the difference between physician assisted suicide and voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. We learned of the experience of those living in Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon and about half a dozen other states in the US – all with similar legislation. We learned how much of an under-utilised area of medicine palliative care is, and how there is such a big chance that the outcome of this bill will be driven by individual experiences of people – MP’s – whose experience could have been so different had issues like palliative care, common good and slippery slope (logical weakness notwithstanding) been taken into account.

For the umpteenth time, I wondered about the type of society we live in. I am tempted yet again, to take the easy route by concluding therein like yet another evidence that man simply wants to rebel against God. In this instance, it is to thumb our nose at the pinnacle of his creation – human life – and say to him, “this too, I am rejecting”

When we got home I was yet again very grateful for being part of the community at St Alf’s and wo looked forward to the next morning.

At brekky on Sunday morning I looked up the church directory – just to be sure about the name of the gentleman we spoke with during a coffee break of the night before. Then it was to Madam K we went – before we went looking for some stuff to alleviate the harshness of winter. After the usual cooking (by me) and ironing (Tress) we both spoke to our mums later that afternoon and we talked about how the harshness of many things become more pronounced with age. It was good to speak with mum again. Apparently Goh – my brother in law – has been back from Suzhou to be with my sister and their boys. That was wonderful in part but we wondered if that meant his work there would come to an end after all these years.

We both enjoy watching Master Chef so that was how we wound up our weekend – watching those very talented home cooks almost always evoke the very satisfying sense of bon viveur – and they keep me honest. They soften the harshness of big issues that surround the proposed changes in law concerning something that we all have to eventually face.

Buffet Car


On the day of Kiddo’s wedding, I drove Tress into town for her to be with the ladies for a marathon dolling up session. Kiddo, the bridal party and Tress were all getting a makeover. It was early when we went into town and my plan was to then get back to the house in Monash, walk LBJ and treat him well (we were going to leave him at home from around noon till late at night), get dressed myself and then drive back to the hotel in time for the car to be dolled up. As I had some time, I decided to get some confetti too, as the lady quarterbacking the proceeding in Canberra Baptist had, during the rehearsal, suggested we got some.

I still had some time before I had to leave for my duties so I sat in front of Kiddo’s bookshelf to see if there is anything I could take back to Melbourne with me. I had done that a couple of different instances too but that morning I settled on a classic tale in Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky’ St Petersburg tale in answer to Dicken’s Great Expectations in London (or is it some other work by Dickens…).

I didn’t start reading this in earnest until the end of last week however and I am slowly getting into a pacey rhythm and it has become a bit of a page turner. His characters have such depths and breadths in spite of such dreadful settings and circumstances. I’m now just getting into the stage where Raskolnikov, the protagonist, had just done his thing and was going through a hellish phase of “what have I done”. He’s a total wreck and every page invites a visit from the local constabulary. In a way, I think such a visit should come sooner rather than later, which would be for his own good.

My train rides have become in many ways, the highlights of my work days on account of the books that kept me company. I hope to keep commuting like this for a little while yet, for these slow cook types of satiables to be soaked up by yours truly. 

Those books have become little gourmets and those trains are my buffet cars.

Routines – It’s back on the menu


We’re creeping back to our normal routine. Creeping because traces of the wedding linger on – we spent Saturday arvo with 6 Chek & 6 Chim (Stephen and Paddy) and we found out that while they managed to spend time with their children in Sydney and here in Melbourne and did some other personal stuff, they would not have made this trip to Aus if not for the wedding. So I felt even more that we did the right thing to reach out to spend time with them.

Tress and I spent a quiet Friday night at home. We made some soup on the soup maker, settled down to watch the Saints beat the Giants, and went to bed early-ish. Sat morning we motored through the vacuuming etc before quickly getting to the station to keep our appointment. We had lunch at Degraves Street – our first – before moving on for coffee someplace else. We sat and talked, which is what’s most enjoyable these days. We talked about family, health, aspirations of the younger generation, and generally just caught up with what’s been happening in our lives. When we left them at Southern Cross – where they were catching the V-Line back to Woodend – I told myself I must keep them in prayers more diligently. Back home Sat night, we watched the Doggies v Tigers game before heading to bed.

Yesterday arvo, after we resumed our routine lunch at Madam K’s it was back to the cookout routine again. That was after Tress, LBJ and I had a very pleasant walk, which ended in the oval. We’re now part of the oval’s facebook page – a tool we use to keep walkers updated on whether the oval had any sports on or whether it was free for our four legged friends to muck around in. It was such a pleasant end to our walk I took a picture and posted it on that page to let everyone know it was gloriously free of sports. As our home look straight into the parkland adjoining the oval, we have become the de facto eyes for the oval’s dog loving community.

Later that evening, as we were finishing up the cookout, we watched the Hawks’ thrilling hold out against the Dees who had kicked a goal through Jordan Lewis to cut the margin to a mere 3 points. Thankfully the clock had only a minute left and veterans like Hodge and Burgoyne showed experienced resolute to bring us just the second win of this faltering season. Still, the routine of a weekend of catching up with people, footy games, Madam K, cooking and walking LBJ, was almost completely back. That was good.

Colder, contemplative days


The weather has now turned cold. In the kitchen at work this morning, while still in my coat with a scarf around me, the CEO remarked that he was awake around 5am for a call with our US colleagues and it was cold. I guess that was as much a statement about the weather as it was about the round-the-clock nature of our business. I left the office around 5pm – as I normally do – but was back on the phone on a conference call with some overseas colleague, also as I normally do. My team member was still at the office and she too was in on the call.

Not long after that call as I sat with Tress on the couch watching TV, I could feel the temperature heading south. An App said it was to be about 7deg by 9pm but it was only around 8pm. I used to think or wonder why the elderly felt they had to wear woollies even on a mild day. I now think there is positively a correlation between age and feeling cold. By 9pm I was cold and said to Tress I’d hit the sack and turn up the heat in the bedroom.

I climbed into bed with a fleecy top and had intended to remove that top before sleeping. I ended sleeping in that thing through the night as I didn’t at any point in time through the night, felt warm enough to remove it.

As I woke to check the App again and saw a reading of 2.7deg, I felt a little assured it wasn’t entirely an age thing. It was cold. I had also taken the oil heater out of the box in the guest room the night before and put it on so the room was mildly warm but it was cold in the lounge and kitchen. I had also prepared a woolly jumper which kept me snug and warm.

I still had the soft and warm jumper on me when I made a cup of coffee just a short while ago – my first cup of warm beverage some 3+ hours after getting into work – but as I type this while sipping on that coffee, I am able to finally feel less cold. The jumper came off and I’m thinking surely now the long hot days are behind us for now. As I again contemplate what the winter holds, I again wonder what the Lord has in store for my/our days ahead, now that the “main event” of the wedding is behind us.

DJ Home


I don’t think I’ve seen as much of Melbourne or Victoria in a week as I had last week. From our “backyard” along Canterbury Road to out along the Surf Coast towards Port Campbell, from St Alf’s a suburb away to the Yarra Valley, from the markets in South Melbourne and city fringe to the wonderful autumnal splendour of Woodend and Macedon Ranges and right through different nooks and crannies of the CBD, including the vast shopping precinct of the South wharf, hitherto an greenfield to yours truly – I’ve been to more places in Melbourne and its outer reaches within a week than at any time in the past. To top it all off, I went to these places with my brother David and his wife Jean, who were finishing up their antipodean holiday after Kiddo’s wedding, a couple of weeks ago now.

Tress was with us earlier in the week on Monday and Tuesday (Anzac Day) and could only be with us again over the weekend so for 3 whole days, I played tour guide and host to our Malaysian visitors.

It was a wonderful week. I got to spend time with David and Jean, slept in, ate (very) well and went to places I loved visiting (with the exceptions of Crown Casino, which was only a quick 5minute walk around, and the South Wharf DFO). The flipside was I skipped my daily readings and my routines were parked and driven by my visitors’ needs and wants. That wasn’t always a bad thing as it truly felt like a privilege to be attending to them.

David my brother had been very sick in early January 2016, and in a couple of instances at that time I did not know if I would get to spend time with him again. When he eventually came through we all felt a great relief. When I went to KL for a week’s work last year, we both made it a point to catch up and he/they sounded really excited about their visit for Kiddo’s wedding. I guess it often takes a major jolt for us to shake off the inertia that numbs us into inaction in our relationship building space.

They left on Sunday night and landed safe and well yesterday morning. So from now I guess our lives return to its normal cycle and I’m sure at some point – possibly not too far away – the monotony and the drudgery will surely kick in. Winter will soon be upon us and with the Hawks not so happy, footy will only provide a limited respite.

On the arvo before David and Jean left, we took them to a shopping centre as Jean was looking for a certain footwear. Tress mentioned she wanted a certain type of winter coat and she got one and she mentioned it would come in handy when we visit Canberra. I wondered about that as I wasn’t sure I’d make another trip anytime soon, especially given our last trip there included some issues I had about us rooming in Kiddo’s new home. I’m also not sure we can presume to make our lodgings there in their home, when we visit. Anyway, that coat looked great on Tress and 3 days hence, I must admit I’m much less uptight about making another trip to see how the newlyweds are fairing. So I looked it up and the next school holidays will be from 30 June – pretty cold time for south Canberra, in the “cold plains”. I’m sure Tress would enjoy that new coat then. Maybe that could be a no frills respite for us.

With the last of our guests having left Aus, life hopefully reverts to some form of normalcy. Yet, normal isn’t always best, my preferences notwithstanding.