Contrasts and conundrums

On the way home after the game last night, I said to Tress we live in a city where contrasting experiences can be such a wonder – one can start a weekend listening to a public policy campaigner/social reformer articulating religious philosophical views, and ending it by singing your team song with thousands of people in the mighty MCG.

After work last Friday, I took my usual Tram No. 12 but instead of stopping at Spencer Station, I stayed on till it got onto Victoria Parade at East Melbourne. Tress made her way from Blackburn Station and navigated her way through the Metro train network to get to North Richmond, where I was waiting for her. When she finally got of her train, we walked to the venue of the talk we were going to start our weekend with.

It wasn’t the sort of talk one wants to end a week on. We were listening to Ryan T Anderson talk about transgender activists and the public policy implications. I had been looking out to get a reasonably priced copy of Anderson’s latest book, “When Harry Became Sally” but I keep finding delivery costs add unreasonably to the already high prices of books here in Australia.

I had read Anderson’s earlier works, back from 2015 and when the same sex marriage legislation was being voted towards the end of last year, and found his arguments compelling. So it was good to listen to him on Friday night.

Equally impressive was the new Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Martyn Iles. He cut through the issues and, I thought, hit the nail on its head when he suggested it was all about the created wanting to be the creator. That the Genesis description of Adam knowing the truth was really saying Adam determining what truth ought to be, was a thought I had heard back about 30 years ago now, when I was a frequent audience in the Campus Bible Study lunch time talks delivered by Phillip Jensen. To hear a young looking new MD of the ACL say the same thing 30 years later, was strangely refreshing.
We got home a bit after 10pm and after nibbling on some late snacks we went to bed.

On Saturday it was blowy and wet and the temperature was barely reaching double digit, when after a quick and paltry breakfast, I headed to St Alf for some sweeping duty while Tress vacuumed the home. When we got back, we did some grocery shopping, before heading to lunch and then returning to cook the week’s lunches (my chore) and to iron (Tress’). It remained very wet all day so we could do bugger all in terms of gardening so we kept to indoor activities. Just as we were finishing our chores, we had yet another “order” from Malaysia so after couple of quick phone calls to outlets like Myer and JB Hifi, we headed out to beat the closing times of those outlets.

We managed to get the stuff Ben wanted Tress to get for him and it had become dark by the time we were done and got home.

After cleaning up from the cooking and portioning the lunches for freezing, we settled down and could finally have some down time. It was Saturday night and we had declined a dinner party in a friend’s home so we could catch this down time in a busy weekend. We caught some Chinese ancient wartime flick on Netflix, and then retired for the night.

On Sunday after St Alf’s we went home, and I quickly wiped down the grimy MX5 while Tress did some packing. We then headed for the MCG in what remained grey, wet and windy conditions. The weather forecast had promised conditions would clear up but the sun kept away. At the G, the first quarter kept the scoreboard equally grim for the Hawks and my quick couple of beers were the only positives.
Somehow the Demons wilted away and Hawks came back and looked far stronger. We finished with a thumping victory, reversing the first quarter deficit to romp home in the next 3. We got home just after 7pm, Tress did the smoothies for this morning’s brekkies and we were hoping to catch the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on TV after that.

That closing ceremony turned out to be an utter dud, with long rambling poetry, second rate entertainers and precious little suggestion that it was a closing ceremony of a sporting event. No athletes were on sight – after about half an hour, we switched off and checked out. This morning as I caught the news while doing my exercises, that closing ceremony copped some beating from all reports. I guess when artists and ideological driven public servants seek to foist their agenda on ordinary folks, we can just walk away and say thanks but no thanks. There is a point where we flip the bird and say go away. I want so much to say this to Malaysian politics now, who appear to have hoisted the Machiavellian Mahathir as a messiah to manoeuvre the demise of Najib Razak.

While scrolling through Facebook last night (and the night before), I was reminded of the activities we were busy with this time last year. It had been a year since Kiddo’s wedding. She and Mic were in Sydney to celebrate the event and they sent some pics for us. One had Kiddo leaping mid air in front of the Sydney Fish Markets. She looked really happy. I thought to myself I had very few happy moments in that spot. I spent 6 years of weekends in that place, often from 5am to 5pm, to fund my student years in Sydney. I was seldom happy there. Those weekends were miserable at that time, but at this moment in time, I feel like they were godsends. Life can be like that – misery and happiness are never absolute experiences. They can become relative and miseries of yesteryears can become proud and happy moments of the present. These contrasts can be conundrums but I’d just revel in them, as I revel in this city of Melbourne that gives me such a weekend.


Digging-in time

We received some news yesterday, regarding an illness of someone we care deeply about. It took me aback and I found myself in that unfortunately now familiar territory, of disbelief. It was a stark reminder that life can be so transient and God’s immutability is the only truth we can hang on to and drive us ahead while we walk this earth.

Much prayers and hard work in terms of belief, encouragement and pushing on, would be required. This morning as I said my prayers for Sim, I felt immense sadness and yet I am very encouraged by her steadfast faith in our Lord. I hope she would get the treatments she need and will be well again.

Finding a path to tread

We had our usual weekend except we did a whole bunch of stuff on Saturday so on Sunday we were relatively relaxed and chilled out.

Saturday, we took the wagon for a regular service and we wanted to look at several properties in the area, so we zipped around in the little MX5 to do that. I enjoyed it heaps but I think Tress would have preferred to traverse the eastern suburbs in something a little bigger. That was all in the morning and when we picked up the wagon around noon, we headed back, then to lunch and in the arvo, I did the cooking for the week – something I usually do on Sundays.

I guess on a weekend like that when no external causes impeded our personal plans, we felt freer. While the freedom allowed us to indulge in our personal causes and agenda, the greater benefit was it freed up my mind to think about where we are and where we are – I am – heading. United came back from 2-0 down to beat City and postpone the latter’s celebration of winning the league while Hawthorn ran out of time to claw back the 4-5 goal deficit and lose out to the reigning premiers. We did a bit of shopping and looked forward to our short trip back to Klang. These personal indulgences didn’t settle me enough to stop me thinking about where I am and where I’m heading.

Tanya C was one of those who made our initial visit to St Alf’s a whole lot friendlier. She’s a friendly and outgoing person and she had the lectern last Sunday for the prayers. It was a bit of a rambling range of issues, but I guess that sort of prayers sort of reflects the state of Australian – it cannot be just a Melbourne thing – society. The press and social media appear to have lost a grasp of why public figures – sports persons and politicians chiefly – appear to be behaving badly and listlessly, such that often ordinary citizens would probably just throw their arms up in the air in exasperation and check out from public discourse altogether. It is so hard to have a clearly thought out line of narrative and all that desultory cloud only grinds in all the more, the sort of hopelessness it can engender.

I feel very disengaged now. I feel as though I have given up hoping the world would turn to the good and right, that fewer things would be so undefined or its rightness or wrongness spelt out.

I’d often thing I’d need to simply and wholly turn to the word of God to regain the compass one needs to navigate through life. That I’d start to go beyond just reading it every day, and be bold enough to live by it, totally. I saw over the weekend – it could be a twit from someone like John Dickson or a Facebook posting of Tim Keller – that to believe in God is not quite the same thing as to trust in God. I read his word everyday because I believe in God. I’m not sure I can step out to trust in God as much as I read his word. Maybe that would help me better engage with this world and not be frustrated and disillusioned by the apparent pointlessness of how it is playing out. Maybe having a lamp and light wouldn’t mean anything unless my feet needs to find its next step on a path.

Louise Milligan and George Pell

End pages of this week’s Media Watchdog by G Henderson

Due to popular demand from avid readers, MWD reprints the eleven questions which Louise Milligan declined to answer concerning her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (MUP, 2017). Instead of answering Gerard Henderson’s questions, Ms Milligan sought the protection of her publisher – the formidable Louise Adler. Ms Adler told Hendo that Ms Milligan’s book was a beauty – so there – and no correspondence would be entered into.

On 27 March 2018, Louise Milligan was called as a witness by Cardinal Pell’s defence team in the current committal hearing in the matter of Christopher Reed v George Pell. She was cross-examined for an entire day by Robert Richter QC at the hearing in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court which is presided over by Belinda Wallington, the Supervising Magistrate for Sexual Offences.

And so, it came to pass that Louise Milligan reported the first day of the Cardinal Pell hearing for the ABC TV News Breakfast program on 26 July 2017 – and later on spent an entire day as a witness on the third last day of the hearing on 27 March 2018. How very ABC – since the taxpayer funded public broadcaster denied that Ms Milligan had a potential conflict in being a party to a case which she was reporting on.

In any event, here are eleven questions which were sent to Ms Milligan on 6 June 2017 – they remain unanswered:

At Page 4, you refer to the allegations concerning (then) Archbishop Pell’s alleged sexual assault of a choir boy at St Patrick’s Cathedral sometime between 1996 and 2001 as “George Pell’s ugly secret”. How is this statement consistent with your comments, following the publication of your book, that Cardinal Pell is entitled to the presumption of innocence? Also, what is the justification for writing at Page 227 that some of Pell’s accusers “will” be cross-examined by the Cardinal’s Queen’s counsel? – since he has not been charged.
In view of the serious allegations in Cardinal – and to the fact that you acknowledged on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on 17 May 2017 that your book is written “from of the complainants’ point of view”– what is your policy about anonymous sources?
For example, Cardinal contains references to “one senior member of a religious order” (Pg. 20), “another Royal Commission source” (Pg. 41), “one of the most senior priests on the Curia of the Melbourne Archdiocese at the time” (Pg. 51), “one Church official” (Pg. 88), “officials in the church” (Pg. 281), “a friend…who is a mother in the neighbourhood” (Pg. 290), “someone who works around the Royal Commission” (Pg. 297), “the father-in-law of an ABC journalist” (Pg. 313), “people who knew [George Pell] in his Ballarat days” (Pg. 329) – and more besides – plus the occasional “many”. The allegations at Pages 88 and 281 – which go to George Pell’s character – are most damaging. But they are unsourced.

In view of the serious allegations in your book, do you believe that it is professional to allow anonymous individuals – none of whom claim to be victims – a chance to condemn George Pell in such a way that a reader has no chance of judging their credibility or motives?

What is your position on memory? At Page 101 – when rationalising an inaccurate description of George Pell by one of his accusers – you write: “Memory does strange things when it comes to visual descriptions of people”. Yet, elsewhere in Cardinal, you accept as accurate the recollections of individuals who have seen George Pell on television in recent times and claim that this is the person they came across 30 to 40 years previously.
What is your position on the use of direct quotation marks? At Page 47, you place in direct quotes the recollection of a critic of Cardinal Pell who relates – word for word – a conversation which Pell had with her cousin. This despite the fact that (i) the alleged conversation took place over two decades ago, (ii) the woman concedes to being in the room next door to where the conversation took place and (iii) Pell was (allegedly) determined that the person could not hear what he said to her cousin. This would be uncharacteristic behaviour – in view of the fact that you maintain Pell has a “steel-trap mind” and would be unlikely to speak so loudly that he could be heard between rooms while (allegedly) attempting to have a secret conversation.
Likewise, in Chapter 6 – on the basis of hearsay upon hearsay – how do you construct the precise words that (then) Fr Pell used some three decades ago? Is this professional journalism?

What is your attitude to time? At Pages 129-130 you write that Cardinal Pell was fit enough to turn up at an event in Ballarat “just before he gave video link evidence” from Rome to the Royal Commission on account of not being medically fit to travel to Australia. Cardinal Pell was in Ballarat in March 2015 and he was due to give evidence to the Royal Commission in December 2015 – nine months later.
This is an important point – since you imply that George Pell suddenly developed a heart condition which prevented him from flying from Rome to Australia for hearings of the Royal Commission. So, do you believe it accurate to state that March 2015 is “just before” December 2015 – and insufficient time for a 73 year old man, who already had experienced two heart attacks, to suffer a further deterioration in health?

What is your evidence that the Catholic Church could afford to splash around $20,000 a day on Allan Myers QC as legal counsel before the Royal Commission for Cardinal Pell? (Pg. 131). Were you told this by the Catholic Church and/or Mr Myers? Or did you just make this up?
In view of your sustained criticism of the (then) Bishop Pell’s handling of Fr Peter Searson in Melbourne when he (Pell) was an auxiliary bishop – why did you fail to mention that, when he became Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell sacked Searson and refused to abide by a Vatican decision that he be re-instated? (Pg. 260). Was this a deliberate omission or did you forget this fact – which was not challenged before the Royal Commission?
In dealing with the decision of former Judge Alan Southwell QC’s finding that Phillip Scott’s complaint – with respect to an alleged assault in 1961 – against (then) Archbishop Pell was not upheld, you write: So, in the end, the character assassination of Scott was successful – it achieved its aim – to keep Pell as Archbishop of Sydney. (Page 103)
The clear imputation is that Judge Southwell’s decision was affected by the (alleged) character assassination of Mr Scott which occurred outside the hearing. What evidence do you have that there was any causal relationship between the alleged character assassination of Mr Scott in the media – and Judge Southwell’s decision? Do you believe that Judge Southwell would have been so unprofessional as to allow media reports to influence his finding? If so, what is your evidence for this assertion?

On Page 19 you write that George Pell “infamously shared the [Ballarat East] presbytery with [Gerald] Ridsdale for a year.” At Page 142 you (incorrectly) state that Gerald Ridsdale shared a presbytery for a year with Paul Bongiorno in Ballarat East. It was, in fact, Warrnambool where Ridsdale and Bongiorno shared accommodation – as the evidence before the Royal Commission makes clear. Why is (then) Fr Pell’s accommodation with Ridsdale “infamous” – but not (then) Fr. Bongiorno’s accommodation with Ridsdale?
On Page 15 you write that “one seminarian in Pell’s year seems to remember Pell and [Anthony Salvatore] Bongiorno going on holiday together one summer”. (Emphasis added). Do you maintain that what an anonymous source “seems to remember” warrants quoting in what is presented as a serious book of contemporary history?
Do you believe that such words as “if” and “perhaps” are warranted in what is presented as a professional work by one of the ABC’s leading investigative reporters?

While Louise Milligan declined to answer Gerard Henderson’s eleven questions – she was all too willing to enjoy soft interviews by her ABC colleagues on ABC programs. Like Ms Milligan’s appearance on the ABC Radio 774’s The Conversation Hour program in Melbourne where she was interviewed by ABC star Jon Faine and former Democrats’ senator Lyn Allison on 15 May 2017. Here is a photo of that occasion, which coincided with Law Week in Victoria.

That’s Louise Milligan in the middle, Magistrate Belinda Wallington on the left and Lyn Allison on the right. The photo was taken outside the ABC’s Southbank studio in Melbourne.

Until next time.

Cool lent and hot Hawks

Often, the Lent season starts me thinking about the Holy Week and what I might do for the season, particularly on what I might consider giving up that week, so that Good Friday and Easter sort of gets better traction and it can be more meaningful for me.

This year however, for a range of reasons possibly, Lent, Holy Week and the Good Friday/Easter sort of just came and went without me giving it much thought. Those reasons probably centre on work and the fact that I have become more absorbed in my work than I care to admit. So, the long weekend has become more a rest from work than a time for me to reflect on what Jesus experienced as man under siege. Maybe things have cooled a bit, but I’m hanging in there, and waiting, and reading, and praying and, as much as I can, acting.

After work on Thursday, we went to do a bit of shopping as I wanted to do a curry dish the next day for Saturday’s lunch with Ruth and Jonathan. Kiddo and Mic came down from Canberra early Friday arvo. After a quick breakfast, I cooked the curry. When that was done, Tress and I drove up to Tullamarine and all four of us then headed to Port Melbourne where we had lunch in an Indian restaurant. The banana leaf rice menu has been on our radar for a while so Tress thought it’d be a good opportunity to have a sticky beak. We wouldn’t – I particularly – think of trekking across town, traversing Melbourne, for a meal so a return drive from Tullamarine gave us a reason to make that trip.

After lunch we headed home and for the rest of the day, we simply caught up and spent a bit of time planning our trip to Malaysia. We also went to a local Asian grocery store – only these shops are open on a Good Friday – to pick up some stuff for me to cook for the lunch on Saturday.

The next day, I spent the morning cooking while Kiddo, Mic and Tress went to the shops. Ruth, Jonathan and little Micah then came around 1pm and we spent the rest of the day catching up over lunch. It was wonderful to also spend some time at the oval and the adjoining playground, as it was a sunny and cool day.
On Sunday after St Alf’s we came home and had leftovers for lunch, before heading into the city just for a walkabout and catching nibbles. We had an early dinner in a popular dumpling place in the Emporium and then headed home. We had been playing cards each of the past 2 nights, so we continued with that very enjoyable activity.

On Monday, Kiddo went to get a hairy, then we had lunch at Westfield before heading out to Tulla again, for the Canberrans to return to the capital city. We got back in time for a quick walk for the little guy before the Cats v Hawks game. I was glued to the tele for the next 3 hours, captivated by the battle royale that has come to define Easter Monday footy. The cats had an assembly of midfield stars dubbed the holy trinity – the combative Selwood, the explosive Dangerfield and the mercurial Ablett – which the Hawks had to contain. Contain them we did, as Mitchell and McEvoy lead a very effective team to a pulsating 1-point victory, the only second time in recent years, where the Cats didn’t have the better of us.

We had been watching a series on Netflix, called “Wild Wild Country”, which chronicled the bizarre exploits of the orange people in Oregon in the early 80’s. It was an interesting series, but I wondered why it became such a hit on Netflix. I do recall however, the funnier guys in school who used the Bhagwan as a joke and in a recent tv show a few years ago, the Sheela line of “tough titties” on the Australian 60 Minutes got some airplay. Other than that the whole orange people episode was no more than a forgettable flash for most people. Maybe the Americans are different.

This morning as I got off the tram and walked towards the office, I noticed daylight was already upon us. Soon the days will end earlier, and it will get dark earlier as the warm days fade into memory. I hope winter will be kind on us this year.

Sick and Confused

I think it was in September 1998 when Anwar Ibrahim was sacked by Dr Mahathir. He was later accused of all sorts of trumped up charges and eventually went to jail. I distinctly remember the feelings I had when we heard the news of Anwar’s sacking and later, when we heard the charges against him.

It was a similar sort of feeling when about three years later, we sat at home and watched the twin towers that was the World Trade Centre in New York City, crumble after being hit by two commercial jets.

On each occasion, it was a feeling of unbelief, a sense of being ill, and
wondering what has become of the world we know.

It was the same feeling I had that morning a few days ago, when I saw the news about what our cricketers had done in South Africa. I felt ill, and I felt as though it was all so surreal. I wondered what had happened to Australian sports – what has become of the world as we know it.

I guess the way things have unfolded since then, says a lot about how confused Australian society, and I guess western culture, has become. We are a society where we cant say “that’s wrong” to a child (or anyone else) anymore because apparently that would be to “judge” someone by “our own” standards. And yet we expect “correct” behaviour from public figures like our sportsmen.

Apparently, we are allowed to publicly and collectively disapprove (“judge”) of conduct by someone like David Warner or Steven Smith when they seek an unfair (or even illegal) advantage over opponents but we cannot do the same when one of our own do something obviously wrong. Morality, discarded on one level, appear to still hold on another.

We have become ready accusers to stand waiting to throw the first stone, when we have discarded the rule about adultery. We have not been so ready to ask if we may be guilty of transgressions ourselves so as to ask if we can be throwing the first stone. The accusers have not left one by one, and yet no one is willing to say “neither do I condemn you” or allowed to say “go ahead and sin no more”.

I am sick when I think about why Steve Smith and our Australian cricketers did what they did, but I am even more ill when I consider how confused our society has become.

Lose ends – messy and neat finishes

On Saturday we gave the house a good cleaning, so that it’s a bit less uncomfortable for Kiddo and Mic when they visit over the coming long weekend.

We left the cleaning half way to go see a property near the Dandenongs. It was very nice and we both liked it a lot but it was already under offer. So we headed for lunch, headed to our usual shopping haunt where I got a hair cut and then went home to finish the vaccuming etc.

We kept going until it was time to leave for the MCG to catch the Hawks’ opening game of the new season. It was great as we beat a mistake prone Collingwood team. We didn’t get home to way past 11pm, and caught an old classic with Harrison Ford before heading to bed really late.

The next day after St Alf’s we went home to catch up on office work. One of the lawyers who would finish up this week, dropped some last minute unattended work on yours truly so I had to put aside the arvo on a Sunday to get it done. It got frustrating when there were issues with my office VPN and half way through working, I was kicked out of the system and I had to work blind. Tress took the little guy out as I as blowing off steam and I myself took a walk across the oval to watch a soccer match. A little while later we came back and I resumed my work. I eventually got the work done and this morning came in even earlier to cross check that those bits I did blind were ok.

I had become so cross with that lawyer that I am yet to speak with her today. She had left the work undone although she had said to me earlier in the week that she would do it and then she went for a seminar unnecessarily when work was left undone, and then called in sick the next day. So she blew off two days’ work and I had to pick up the pieces. If she reached out I would accept any form of olive branch but as of now, I have not bothered to even look at her. I had not done anything beyond a cursory “good morning” when she came in – late – this morning. It simply isn’t a good way to check out for her. A lose end with a messy finish.

Tress took some time off this morning to do something about her Malaysian citizenship. A bit of tying up another lose end I guess. I had done mine several years ago and she has now done it too. We have cut yet another string in our diminishing ties with Malaysia.

A Shop in Doncaster

We’ve been going to this Malaysian shop in Doncaster, for our feeds of noodles and other Malaysian fares, in the past couple of years. We usually go on weekends, often on Sundays after St Alf’s.

We went there again a couple of times this past weekend. The first time, we met a couple. The guy was very friendly, and we chatted a little bit. He’s only been in Australia for about a year, but he seemed like an easy going and smart guy and he looked like he was settling down well. He was chatty while his wife remained quite as he talked to us, although she looked friendly too. They’re both in their early forties and they said to us they did not (yet?) have kids.
Yesterday after St Alf’s, we went to that shop again for lunch. It was very busy, so we could only find seats in a backroom, at a shared table. The couple who shared the table with us were again good company and we chatted a little bit. They’re retirees who now spend their days looking after their grandchildren. He was a dentist with the government. When they’re not looking after their four grandchildren, the spend time dancing. They’ve been in Australia for nearly 40 years.

I said to Tress, on the way home after lunch yesterday, that we saw an interesting contrast. We’re sort of in the middle in between those two lovely couples we met over two different days.

When I was in my early forties, I hadn’t wondered about what I would be doing, or what I would be like, when I’m in my early fifties, as I am now. I wonder now, what I would be doing and what I would be like, when I’m at that stage in life as in the second couple we met at our Malaysian go-to in Doncaster.

We had gone to that shop on Saturday for an early dinner, having spent the day cleaning up the garden. We had gone to our favourite bakery that morning and had their award-winning pastries before heading back to do work. We started late as I had to then head to the local Bunnings to pick up some stuff as well as get fuel for the mower, while Tress went to an auction at a property just around the corner from our street.

We started work just before 11am. The hedges would probably be trimmed one last time before we head into cooler days. Tress helped with raking the cut branches and we trimmed the lemon tree as well. Then Tress have the MX5 a wipe down and by the time we finished, it was nearly 3pm. We had also picked up some very nice bread rolls from the bakery earlier in the morning and so instead of getting some lunch, we made some olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip for the bread and had a nibble before heading out to that shop for dinner just after 5pm.

After lunch at the shop yesterday (Sunday), we did some grocery shopping and then headed home and Tress did some ironing while I cooked the week’s lunches. Then we walked the little guy and later in the arvo, after 6 when the winds had settled down, I mulched and applied some fertilisers on the lemon tree, which had begun fruiting again after maybe 4-5 years.

As we were lounging around last night and I was thinking about the weekend’s encounters, I wondered if we could make a quick visit to Klang. I suggested it to Tress who thought it was a good idea. We then message my brother and his wife, and they too thought it was a good idea. A few more messages later, we appear to have teed up a visit involving Kiddo and her hubs, Tress and I, to Klang for my mum’s birthday. I hope this works out. I thought about the couples we met at the shop, about how their eyes often light up when they talk about their families and hometowns. I like that shop.

Long Weekend, Leave Plans

As an employee, one has to love the March/April period. There is a Labor Day long weekend, Good Friday/Easter extended weekend and then there’s the Anzac Day holiday. However, there is a drought in May and then in June there’s the Queen’s birthday before the long dry spell all the way to Cup Day in November. So really March/April is the best time in terms of public holidays.

Yesterday was Labor Day so we had a long weekend and it was truly one of the most relaxing weekends (other than the Christmas/New Year break) we’ve had for a very long time. On Saturday however, we kept ourselves busy with St Alf stuff. In the morning I met up with John B, a highly respected doctor. He has been looking after the church ground and recently he asked for help to clean up some main access areas on Saturday mornings so that on Sunday, those high traffic areas are cleaner or neater. A bunch of us responded so that we need only rock up once a month to sweep or hose down some areas. So I met up with John who showed me what needed doing. He had been there earlier in the week however so there wasn’t too much to be done and I was home within the hour.

Back home, I continued with some ground keeping tasks – feeding my lawns and various other parts around the house with “Seasol” and raking/sweeping up leaves from the gum trees at the front.

Tress vacuumed while I was pottering around with my tasks and after that we went out for some lunch before readying ourselves for more duty later in the arvo. We also dropped into the Nunawading library and we picked up another Tim Winton book and a few movies.

We both signed up to be part of the “Dinner Tonight” teams. These teams set up and serve dinner on Saturday nights to disadvantaged or marginalised people. The dinners are provided and hosted at New Hope, just further up the street from St Alf’s. So we met up with the rest of the team at 4pm, and proceeded to set up the tables, chairs, table cloths, cutleries etc – the idea is to let the diners have a chance to eat properly on a properly set up table. We get to sit down with them to share a meal together and engage with them. It was a very satisfying experience and I learned much. I met a guy (“Douglas”) who taught me a thing or two about sensitivities of dealings with these folks. Before he left, he asked if I was going to be there again and I said I wasn’t rostered again until July. I hope to see him again and be more engaged with him.

We got home a bit after 7pm, walked the little guy a little bit, and then settled in for the night watching one of the movies we picked up from the library.

On Sunday after St Alf’s we decided to catch a movie. Tress’ boss had given her a gift card last year in June, which is good for a couple of gold class tickets at Village. That gift card is due to expire in June so we decided to use it before it gets too close. The problem was I didn’t have anything I wanted to watch. Gary Oldman as Churchill would have been nice but no cinema near us was screening that. The only thing that remotely interested me was Black Panther but I’m so tired of anything that has anything remotely connected to identity politics and so while BP is really only a superhero yarn, the undertones of black issues, no matter how remote, was sufficiently disengaging. I scanned the list of available movies and we decided on “12 Strong”, a yarn based on a true story of American soldiers in Afghanistan as an early response to 9/11. It was quite a yarn and the action scenes were quite fun.

We then went home, walked the little guy, then just chilled the night away.

Yesterday, we wanted to either go do some bushwalking or just drive to the beach
but it was a grey, cloudy day, threatening to rain so I offered Tress a chance to do something totally against form. We haven’t been to Chadstone for years and the development which made it an even bigger shopping hangar than it already was, only made me even less interested. However, we (I) was so relaxed I thought I’d give Tress a chance to drag me there. She jumped at the offer so we went and walked through the very large shopping floors. I had expected a less busy environment given it is not sales season and many would have been out of town for the long weekend. I think I was right but even then the place was buzzing.

Back home, we walked the little guy again and I also kicked the footy with a boy who was at the oval with his dog, which made me feel every bit of my lack of fitness. We’ve made some friends at the oval – all dog loving people – over the years and we continue to meet new people. I wonder if I will ever have the desire to delve deeper into these encounters, and not forego the opportunities.

Back at work this morning, I discussed my leave plans with my boss. Tress and I had hoped to spend some time with her parents in June and Tress and her dad had been excitedly making plans. So it was a bit of a bummer when my boss said he too would be away for much of June. With the legal team reduced to just my boss and I, we have had to manage our leave plans more closely. I’m supposed to find a replacement but that person would be too new to the business for both my boss and I to be away at the same time. I hope we can work something out and maybe we can still go away to be with Tress’ parents before too long.

Darker days ahead

A colleague of mine accidentally sent a document to an office printer while she was at home. It was late at night when she did that and being a part-timer, she wasn’t going to come in the next day. So, she texted and then emailed me – knowing I’m often the first person in the office, usually just before 7am. I saw her text and email the following morning and when I got in, I promptly picked the document up and tore it up before throwing it into a secured bin. She was anxious about not having that document sitting around. It was her resume.

A little while after she got into the office that morning, she asked if we could have a private chat. She confided in me that as expected, she found something else and would be moving on.

I wasn’t completely surprised of course and as we chatted for a little while, it pulled into focus for me, that my employer continues to tether on an edge. A recent ASX announcement continued to paint a gloomy picture as it reported a 3rd or 4th successive loss, with the intrinsic value (NTA actually) slashed yet again, reduced by another 50% or so. By all accounts, it is a company needing drastic action soon. Either a takeover or an M&A appears to be its only option. With such a course, employees are always fully exposed, as I know only too well. I have been through at least two jobs which subjected me to such vagaries.

So a couple of days after that, after a team meeting which was rescheduled for later that day, that colleague met my boss personally to deliver the news. What surprised me more, was when I found out the next day, that another colleague had also decided to up stumps. That other colleague is a younger person who has allowed the travelling bug to remain resident in her system. She had gone to Canada for a holiday in the third quarter of last year. She must have liked the place a lot. Her resignation was triggered by her being granted a working visa in Canada. She’d be leaving soon after Easter. So the first working day after easter, half the legal team would see their career resurrected elsewhere, leaving the remainder half – my boss and I – to try our best to make the empty tomb look less empty. So to speak.

I was saying to Tress over the weekend, that I have started to be afraid of what’s in store at work. I’m just scared the increased workload would be such a turn off that my heads down bums up mentality would take a turn for the worse. They say the battle is half won with the right mentality. Conversely I guess, with a fear that comes with the loss of half the team’s capacity, the battle is probably more than doubled. It would I believe, feel like we’d be pushing the boulder up a somewhat steep slope.

In any event, the weekend was wonderful, my debilitating cold and cough notwithstanding. We went out to my favourite local Italian for dinner on Friday and then went home for an early night. I had left work a little earlier to get a prescription from the doctor, for something to help me sleep better. The concoction was very effective as I collapsed into a heap very soon after downing the linctus codeine.

I sent t he MX5 in for a service on Sat morning, before doing some grocery shopping and lunch, after which it was work on the greens. I edged and line trimmed, mowed and swept, and washed the wagon. Then it was another linctus codeine affected early night. The next day, after St Alf’s Tress and I trekked into the city to catch an iconic Italian cars show on Lygon Street. The rows of prancing horses and other equally exotic Italian vehicles stirred the passion so and after a bite of gelato in the famously Italian precinct of Carlton/Brunswick, we caught some lunch near the QV market before wandering through the market and then we headed home.

It was the third consecutive weekends Tress and I had trekked into the city. Last weekend it was to catch up with some old friends from Uni, who had visited from Cairns. It was really good to talk and really catch up with what has been happening with each other’s lives – swapping tales of our “kids” and where they seem to be heading in their lives.

Back home, we walked the little man, I cooked and Tress ironed, and then it was yet another linctus codeine induced early night. I get how the government thinks that stuff can become addictive and made codeine a prescription-only help.

I got in this morning and went to work straight away, dealing with the half a dozen or so of emails I had seen over the weekend but decided to only read them in detail when I get in.

So as we started the new season, just on two months into the new year, I have lost 4 colleagues with whom I work well, and whom I like. Last Friday a sales guy left. He was one of the more intelligent, decent and fair dinkum guys around. Another – a head of distribution sort of a guy – is probably half way into his notice period, and these team members who are smart, suave and classy lawyers (one even hails from Melbourne’s blue blood – father a senior judiciary person and all that). It’d be a (another) long week and I wonder what is to become of the next few months at work.