The Hunt for Red October – a review

From the first scenes, where the new Soviet Typhoon class submarine leaves the Polijarny Inlet, the sense of menace is profound. You just know this is going to be tense all the way through.

Sean Connery is perfectly cast as commander Marco Ramius, “The Vilnius Schoolteacher” of Russian attack Commanders. A bear of a man in charge of a monster of a boat with an arsenal of annihilation at his disposal …… and then there are the “doors”.

Meanwhile, the Americans become aware of the emergence of the new sub. Tom Clancy’s perennial character CIA analyst Jack Ryan puts his highly sensitised and suspicious nature to the test.

Concurrently, USS Dallas, an LA class attack submarine is patrolling near the Russian Sub base at Murmansk. It picks up the Red October, tracking the new beast of the sea carefully, until, the Russian inexplicably disappears.

Unaware of the proximity of a US sub, Ramius confronts a weasel like Soviet political officer who precociously awaits the commander in his private cabin. This does not bode well. Together they must open their mission orders from the Commander’s safe. They use their two independent, missile arming keys. A “dreadful accident” ensues and the scene is set.

It never lets up from here. The build of Red October is intense and anxiety provoking. As the Soviet fleet scrambles and the US NSA fears a fist strike, against the odds one person prosecutes a rational interpretation of events.

This is a deep sea game of cat and mouse that threatens the security of the world in a way that any one of us can relate to, fearfully, in fiction or in truth.

As relevant and potent today as when released in 1990, be afraid, be very afraid.

A change of plan

A bit of a rethink needed this morning. I have been in the habit of alternating time on the bike with a bit of a run – most days. The bike activity varies between the resistance trainer, on the quieter bitumen, dirt tracks or in the bush every now and then. It is something I intend to keep up as is (despite the magpie season). However, the running has presented some serious problems.

The first running problem appeared to be a product of distance and age. As I regularly got further past the 6km mark, my intermittent left hip malalignment became increasingly troublesome. I started having to stop to line up the ball and socket more often. Also, the hip was becoming sore between times, which was new. Hmmm. It was looking like time to reconsider my approach.

Then there was the dog. Running along Spring Crrek Rd one day, there was suddenly a rush of snapping teeth and aggressive growling and barking behind me. A charging border collie had come out of nowhere. I must have passed it in the scrub.

He got under my legs and knocked me to the ground. I landed hard on the bitumen, scoring myself some scrapes and nasty bruises. Luckily he hadn’t got a grip at this stage, but he was coming at me while I was on the ground. Fortunately, he chose to come at my legs again. I was able to kick him in the neck. It must have hurt because he backed off, snarling with his hackles way up.

I was seriously frightened and badly shaken. I had landed square on my hip and wondered if it was broken. Lying there without any mechanical form of defence I was sure those teeth were going to find a mark.

I tentaively stood up to test my weight bearing. It was OK, so I steadily backed away. After a couple of lunges and as I got further down the road the dog started to stand back, more ready to let me go. At this point, I decided this sort of running wasn’t for me.

However, confining yourself exclusively to one form of exercise gets to be a demotivating drag. I will be forever grateful to swimming, which restored me from the severe back injury scrap heap many years ago, when I suffered extruded discs at work. In health, I would choose swimming if I didn’t find it so boring. So, what to do? I tried quigong, but it was to slow for me. Yoga never felt right either.

Then, in the context of all the new research demonstrating the benefits of short bursts of high intensity exercise, I thought running a couple of km along the creek might be good. It was. Beautiful, doable, no hip soreness. But yesteday ….

As has happened several times before, Mary and I were walking along, aware to watch for snakes. As usual, we let our minds and eyes wander upward toward koala and bird spotting. Once again we only became alert to a snake when it was underfoot. Here it is, a medium sized copperhead. Easily mistaken for a red bellied black or a dark coloured brown, you can tell it is a copperhead by the pale triangular scales along the lips.

20181026_img_copperhead 02

So, for the warmer months at least, I think a change of plan is necessary. I see enough snakes to realise that I am genuinely running the risk of a snake strike along the creek. That won’t stop me walking there, but I think running heightens the risk.

Instead, today I ran through town, down to the derelict Armstong St Bridge (see photo in previous post) and back.  Even surfaces, a modest rise, a gravel footpath through town, a low traffic dead end blacktop, scenic rolling hills with the pretty golf course on one side and the solitary water tower on the other, a gorgeous riparian bush zone to look over at the terminus. Not a bad change of plan.

IMG_1966

 

 

Spring Creek Bridge – Armstrong St – Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve Loop

Mode of Transit: Walk

Distance from Melbourne: 150km

Location: Strathbogie Township & surrounds

GPS coordinates: Start and finish 35 51’ 13” S 145 44’ 45” E

Map:

Environmental status: 1km Main and Armstrong Streets, Strathbogie – built environment, golf course and pasture.

2.5km bushwalk in Sevens Creeks Wildlife and Bridge to Bridge Reserves – high quality habitat comprising healthy riparian zones.

Elevation: 485m

Degree of difficulty: gradient some short steep rises, rocky outcrops, otherwise easy walking, but requires sure-footedness

Distance: 3.5km circuit

Duration: 1.5hrs

Facilities: General store open 7 days. Public toilets at local Recreation Ground 0.5km up Spring Creek Rd from Spring Creek Bridge

Take: hat, sunblock, sturdy walking shoes, water, camera, phone

Features:

1. Topography: modestly undulating, short steep slopes, rocky and earthen embankments

2. Surface: engineered gravel footpath to bitumen roadway to unmarked and absent dirt trails and rocky outcrops to grassy pathway with uneven ground

3. Waterways: Seven Creeks, turbid permanent water, meandering across flood plains or cascading through rocky terrain with sandy beaches and lazy pools

Spring Creek, clear, sandy or rock bottomed permanent water with cascades running under Spring Creek Bridge

4. Flora: open woodland including significant stands of established swamp, narrow leafed peppermint, manna gums with poa meadows. Extensive decade old Strathbogie Landcare plantings of indigenous trees and shrubs. Occasional, dispersed woody weed clumps (principally blackberry) along the Sevens, but severe around the Goulburn Valley Water Treatment Plant (which they have agreed to correct). Bridge to Bridge is largely woody weed free.

5. Fauna: indigenous wildlife is common, including native fish, birds, koalas, echidnas, wombats, eastern greys, swamp wallabies, rakali, bobucks, snakes, lizards and platypus

6. Natural environment: healthy riparian zone

7. Built environment: Township zone and riparian bush zone with few nearby farmhouses

8. Safety: animal burrows, slippery surfaces, uneven ground, snake habitat, discarded wire

Comments: with the comfort of access to the Strathbogie Store, this short, beautiful walk can be undertaken with little in the way of carried provisions and much to see. Opportunities for candid wildlife image captures are likely.

Directions: Commence at the Spring Creek Bridge, walking up Main St until you reach the Strathbogie Memorial Hall at Armstrong St. Turn left and walk along Armstrong St, you will pass the town water tower on the right and golf course entrance on the left. Keep walking until you arrive at the the disused bridge (completely unsafe to cross). 10 metres before the bridge on the right is a gap in the fence between 2 large posts. Enter the Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve here. The trail can disappear. You will best pick it up by keeping close to the fence line on the higher side of the slope, deviating to and returning from features that attract you. There is no need to cross the creek. Follow the trail until you get to the Goulburn Valley Water Treatment Plant. Walk under Smith’s Bridge to enter the Bridge to Bridge Picnic Ground and Track. This end of the Bridge to Bridge is a short nature circuit. Either arm of the track will take you to a boardwalk from where you can continue your return to the Spring Creek Bridge via the confluence of Seven and Spring Creeks.

Images:

img_1965.jpg

Nearby Tracks & Trails: Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve to Brookleigh Rd. Proposed Magiltan Project upstream of Spring Creek to Magiltan Creek.

Links to The Great Strathbogie Trail: along the length of the Seven Creeks Wildlife Reserve

Ideas for improvement: woody weed control, trail markers, directional and safety entry signs, some basic trail work to flatten angled slopes

This is not a plateau

Skeleton School Madelaine Last

Skeleton School by Madelaine Last

This new normal is not a plateau

This new normal is not the new normal bro

The simple fact is temperatures continue to rise

The simple fact is there are no alibis

Even when an individual climate change denies

Even when the fatalists are saying their good byes

Even though so many choose to walk on by

We can do our best and the naysayer defy

Because there are indicators that clearly show

There may still be time to protect our home

Despite the hothouse building in our greenhouse dome

 

2016 was the world’s hottest year

because El Niño added to the sear

Many politicians made this their bluff

On behalf of lobbyists saying it’s one off

Then 2017 was almost just as hot

The third warmest year and El Niño not

How is the first half of 2018 I hear you ask?

How much reflected heat was there in which we basked?

It was the fourth warmest on the global tab

Again, no El Niño to be factored in the lab

 

Accelerating temperatures throughout the Industrial Age

Say greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change

Measures have been gauged stats have been paged

So many ordinary people are supremely enraged

 

Four straight years of temperature highs

Unseasonal fires, landslides, quickening dries

Ice caps melting at an ever-increasing pace

Ocean currents stalling changing weather’s ancient face

Sea temp differentials flatten there are water level highs

Since 1993 7.7 centimetres of seawater rise

And we’re still not ready damn our eyes

 

There is not one government that does enough

Where conservatives dominate, we are really stuffed

When we need collective accomplishment on the world stage

All they manage is the underachievement needed to end our age

When 17 of our hottest years since records were begun

Have been experienced by the planet since 2001

 

Fish are relocating due to warming waters

Resource wars are driving people across borders

Animals are struggling where small changes matter

Wildfire behaviour sees normal patterns scatter

Hard dry ground where crops should have been

Leave starving masses suffering sight unseen

 

In Sweden and El Salvador wheat and corn harvests dip

Four continents of heatwaves rock the state of the ship

Intense and longer storms, Flo’s protracted flooding rains

Deeper waters and drier droughts put more people in their graves

Nuclear plant shutdowns because river cooling water is too warm

Does any government or corporate body set off an alarm?

No, because they say we’re in the same safe boat

Despite some countries suffering in ways others do not

In Delhi people lie on the ground when record heat stops work after noon

Where there’s no techno cooling to ease every hotter summer’s swoon

Elsewhere electricity supply crashes due to air con demand

Dozens of heat related deaths occurred last summer in Japan

Basic system failures threaten water supply and food

Yet, all some do is argue, wring hands and do no good

 

2017 saw a carbon dioxide max for 800,000 years

But from Paris the US withdraws citing fake news fears

And the rich haven’t paid to help poor countries cope

As they promised in the accord to give some glimmer of hope

 

Global warming now moves faster than any models say

Are there global changes can be made to keep the worst at bay?

Like science harnessing knowledge to produce drought resistant crops

Or international government that can call on climate cops

Enforcing global policy solutions, a climate government pronounces

Or predicting global heat and rainfall for informed responses

 

We’re not talking about the risk to our grandchildren anymore

It’s the risk to today’s planet knocking at our door

Unless we lift ourselves from our decision-making funk

We’ll reduce the value of our world to the corporate status “junk”

 

Meanwhile, some people and Governments are acting somewhere out there

Funding research and renewables, reducing waste, doing their share

Protesters are demonstrating and actioning their care

Planting, recycling, whiting roofs, championing what is fair

But they can’t take on the weight of the world it’s just too much to bear

Will you help them, will you and you take on the dare?

The new world of work

tin man by katie van nooten

“tin man” by katie van nooten

This job calls for compassion and understanding

A willingness to share with diverse groups and individuals

The successful applicant will take responsibility for the welfare of others

It is a position where a keen eye for duty of care applies

Where dignity and respectful engagement are expected, and required

The role is one of leadership

The delegation of duties necessitates understanding of the various forms of merit

Authority is to be exercised with close attention paid to accountability

Demonstrable professional skills and knowledge will reflect ongoing learning

The position requires common sense

Applied to a process of evidence based informed decision making

The appointee must always act with integrity

As part of a natural tendency toward ethical consideration

The tasks to be actioned demand empathy

An ability walk in another’s shoes

Humans need not apply

You know where I’m going with this

You know where I’m going with this 

To the place of rant and rave of whinge from a cave

To the normed deformed and ill informed

Who drive nonsensical stuff social media guff

Of bluff and bravado of truth innuendo

Where everyone is offended and all’s fully rendered

You know where I’m going with this

To the place of the dancing where real men are prancing or mincing or wincing in deepening self doubt as they squirm and they shout to no one with ears for their crying into beers because the dears are the girls in their whirls and tossed curls they chop spikes and go dykes on the bikes of their brothers the others whose macho is smothered by the rise of their eyes
They pant to the beat chasing fresh meat party til they drop ecstasy or sop they outdo each other get done over recover blame and shift blame self blame without shame it’s such a shame when the game that they are in has no purpose it’s a sim they’re in but they don’t know it or if they do don’t show it cos the deal is the real is uncool as it heats and the threats as it heats mean the gets can’t be beat so they retreat to their sweet petting havens as the lascivious and craven always do 

You know where I’m going with this

To the crush of high density that rates with propensity for legislature longevity and population growth my oath you and me both with the millions that come to the bustle and hum to the high tensile strum of the energy guns at our heads pay the bills or family fed? that is the question we dread as executive bonuses build mansions and poseurs as the export of gas ups the home price real fast and don’t talk to me about electricity duplicity so mean to me these corporate utilities fat cats and multinats squeeze me til I’m dry then have another try so my life is a scythe cut the stress with a knife kiss good bye to the wife and the kids and the love that I loved for loves sake it’s a home bake

You know where I’m going with this

To Parliament House the joint of no nouse of no brain of no gain where celebrity reigns were the state of the nation equates with fashion our political ration gets smaller and smaller as narcissism self interest and recidivism ism their way to the fore we want more or they want more no yore just more for the future is now a cash cow to be milked at the fence of public expense as the full and the fat suck at the teat for the treat of squeezed taxpayers sweet forming rivers of milk and honey or is it money pouring forth from a new scam that’s rude derived from ineptitude it may be batts it may be courses they may be entrepreneurs but they’re on the horses bolted after the gates have closed

You know where I’m going with this

To the foreign affairs where the hand shakes and stares look like one thing and mean another to every sister and brother to the lands of the sun where who flung dung sticks and islands they build with a military guild in navigation zones where none knows the homes such that possession is nine tenths of the law it’s a bore as new shores rise from the sea we cringe and we pee like the US to Putin when he’s Ukraine a rootin and his snatch what a catch of a patch on the fabric of history Crimea cry for thee the Russia of yore cry for the poor for perverse plans of those who want more. Or should I say piss-Tory and so they go on to challenge the status quo where we say we’ll go, but ho ho ho Australia knows we’re a no show all hot air and blow no blast from the past just cower against shower of the weak with raw power of the ability to buy off the try hards and show offs extend influence of policy overseas despite probity without give but with the motility of far distant polity the bread baskets for Asia droned by Asia owned by Asia sown by Asia cloned by Asia grown by Asia mown by Asia swallowed and honed by Asia and backed by the USA

You know where I’m going with this

To the US beholden superpower olden folding the flag turning for home in the gloaming of their watch withdrawing notch by notch uncertain where the crotch of the matter lies or whether their power even applies, exerting pressure as trade plies but not so sure regarding human rights and the rise of the stateless states the unreliable mates the dates that became rapes where the bright promising Spring quickly wings to a cold dark winter on the sling of David and the Saudi flings and the belated failings where democracy no longer sings.

You know where I’m going with this

Away from paradise lost from the costs from the Fausts from the oppressive hosts from the submerging coasts to the ghost of the past rewritten to last where my heart harks for hope in the sparks of principles sublime not bereft but to the time I have left in the cleft between life and death in hope of nurture in the sweet natural wealth of transparency before stealth

You know where I’m going with this

A palinode 

Here’s an ode to palinode

Where I’ll retract what I once showed

From a once subversive code

I recant to get what I am owed

As I take this pragmatic road

Giving up all I have sowed

I sacrifice my truth and bode

Farewell such sweet and precious load

My enemies I’ll no longer goad

A Problem in Shepparton

takata

Diary of a Retiree: Day 294

An interesting day not so long ago, a problematic day, a day spent in Shepparton. In response to a letter from Subaru Australia, urgently urging replacement of our Subaru Forrester’s high risk air bag, I booked the car in for this to be done. A service and attention to a couple of other issues were due as well. I was advised all could be taken care of if they had the car for the day. I got up at 6am to have the car there around 8am.

To follow, 8+ hours in Shepparton without a car looked like a bit of a challenge. I planned to walk most of the day: to the river for half a day of birdwatching, back to town for lunch, to the gallery, around the CBD, to the museum, to the library and back to Subaru on the outskirts of town.

On arrival at Subaru Shepparton, the first item on my list went awry. I was told that in fact, they didn’t have any replacement air bags. Yes, really! I guess it all seems quite simple to them. I just take a day out to go there again when it suits them. My needs, as the customer, appeared to be largely irrelevant to the process. I expressed my disappointment. I stated that if I been told this when I booked in I would not have come until there were replacement air bags available.

I have since had an apology from Shepparton Subaru. It was explained to me that Subaru Australia and the dealerships are out of synch on this process. I was reassured the Forrester’s air bag had previously been replaced with a like model that would not have time to dangerously deteriorate before they contacted me to say they had a permanent replacement. Despite this reassurance, I am still finding the sequence of events hard to understand. I am also unclear how I could be told the air bag replacement could be done in the first place if they did not actually have any in stock.

I find this sort of attitude toward customers increasingly prevalent. It seems to be becoming the status quo for corporate customer (non) service delivery. Customers are expected to pay for the pleasure of servicing the vendor with their business. The transaction then occurs at the convenience of the vendor. Or, even worse, customers are expected to complete unpaid work for the vendor before the vendor will consider doing business with them at all. For example, not so long ago I had to do all the work to prove to Telstra that it was possible for them to provide an internet connection.

There wasn’t any point in going home. Some work could be done. I left the car. I headed toward the river. It took nearly an hour from the Subaru dealer’s address. It was not exactly a pleasant walk. The dominant features of Shepparton’s entry roadside built environments are the garish, tilt up concrete facades of every ubiquitous franchise found on every arterial approach to every modest and bigger metropolis and suburb in the country. The worst form of urban homogeneity. Also, there was serious noise. The traffic in Shepparton is surprisingly heavy. Between the many traffic lights, trucks alternately growled down the gears toward braking or puffed clouds of diesel fumes into the air as they pushed their way back up to speed. Cars ducked and weaved amongst them. This happened all the way, smack through the centre of town!

As I approached the CBD, many places of business were empty. The tell tales of long term dormancy were myriad. Dust sat heavily on the floors inside. Last autumn’s leaves remained piled into corners and sparsely littered wide empty spaces once filled with display cases, goods for sale and cashier desks. Piles of unopened letters and bills clogged letterboxes or doorway slots and layered themselves untidily on the floors immediately inside each entrance. Shabby, yellowing reminders of an inability to pay, and most likely, an inability to extract payment by such routine means. Grimy windows contrasted with a series of vividly desperate “For Lease” signs stuck to the glass. A few stores even looked like the owners just had enough, went past coping, upped and walked out one day, never to return. Their left-over stock mouldering in grubby backgrounds, awaiting rediscovery by the next occupants. Ancient artefacts of a dim, dark past. That is of course, if there are any next occupants.

I speculated and I felt a touch of sadness for the travails of failed small businesses. The early optimism, the sobering doubts, the dawning of harsh realities, the stress, the final decision to quit, the diversity of costs. I wondered, “Where they are now?” I walked on.

I had water, food, camera in hand, time to kill ….. and the anticipatory hope of discovery. A natural bush environment, rich in river red gums, acacias and native grasses. A majestic river, sliding along lazily between deep, foliage rich embankments. A beautifully clear mid-winter day of warm sunlight and blue skies. A great day for walking.

What did I find? Well, not much really. There were the usual suspects, the wood ducks, the galahs, the wattle birds and a few wrens, but the river wasn’t exactly teeming with the birdlife I expected. In fact, the opposite was true. As I wandered back into town after some 4 hours of walking, I asked myself, “There was food, there was water, there was a seemingly healthy natural environment but, where were all the birds?”

This worried me. It reminded me of the same disturbing feeling I had in Europe a few years ago. I was excited about the prospect of seeing new species, but I didn’t know the bird population there had begun to collapse. We saw precious few birds. The idea that this may be happening here is terrifying. However, more and more, tarmac, buildings,  broad acre mega farms (monoculture deserts) and use of food chain destroying pesticides are more the norm than not here these days as well. It would be naïve to think we will escape similar consequences.

As for the other activities for the day, well, I had myself some passable vegetarian fried rice for lunch. The gallery was quite interesting, but I found myself surprised by how small it was. Consequently, it didn’t take too long travel through. There were some expressive works of felted text and symbolic messages by Raquel Ormella in the featured exhibition “I hope you get this”. I did Raquel, artistic, challenging and interesting.

Some of the aboriginal pieces took my fancy as well. There was one of particular interest depicting the Murray as a joyful hunting and play ground and then the future impacts as the water sport loving crowd crashed the party.

I walked the commercial districts, but was unable to unearth many redeeming features. What looked like the original CBD is now economically dominated by the usual monster supermarket / Kmart (or was it Target?) flatland complex down the road. Surrounding a large flatland central car park, these brazen intruders are well beyond consolidating a commercial beachhead. It felt more like an internal island state!

I walked the residential surrounds. Sure, there were some nice looking historic, come stately homes. However, somewhere back in time the Shepparton municipal guardians made the same mistake so many of their kind have, they let the developers have their say and their way. Consequently, neighbourhood character of a sort that might be appreciated during the pleasure of a long exploratory walk in a country town, was not to be found.

I took a restful break for a half hour or so in the well trafficked library, reading from the well-stocked magazine rack, before heading back to where it all started – the peripherally located Shepparton Subaru. To avoid the noise of the main roads, I mapped a route of minor roads. It was quieter, but otherwise seriously uninspiring. I found myself amongst a mix of untidy or plain houses with bland gardens that gave way to untidy light industry. The people occupying these spaces appeared to think glycophopsphate was the best gardening invention of all time. Already parched landscapes had been further denuded of growth both inside fences and along “nature strips”. You could clearly see the withered remnants of plants and residualspray dyes along the way. This sad observation did not improve my impression of the place at all!

This was my day in Shepparton. The day I didn’t get an air bag replacement

Winter rain

winterrreign

With Winter’s reign

Comes winter rain …..

Heavy, Kamikaze, straight into the ground

A relentless, driving, ominous sound

Drumming incessantly on iron clad roof

Beating out rhythms of Winter’s truth

Pummeling every deciduous bough

Weighing branches to a seasonal low

Forcing autumn leaves to their final leap

Reminding trees it is time to sleep

Sean

 

 

 

Tarrawingee – Hagan’s poem

Tarrawingee

I came across this poem my son, Hagan, wrote some time ago. It is about overnight stays at his grandparent’s place in rural Victoria. It is quite lovely.

at night cars on the highway whisper distance

we are so far from anything

a collection of warm souls

glowing like an ember of the burnt out day

 

the cars breathe wordless thoughts

the sound of loneliness

is the sound of something passing

but we stay

 

grandma and grandpa asleep in the one room I have never explored

young famililes in the back room

single males or older siblings alongside

in a lounge room sealed with folding doors

 

every move a quiet one

from quiet good night to good morning

breakfast a thief’s meal

the day’s plans discussed in conspirator’s tones

 

the house so still

the closing of cupboards in the kitchen a rough sigh

the carpet in the hall soft and relaxed

becoming cool kitchen lino underfoot

 

and here’s Ruth, any Ruth

whispering hello with a laugh

as if she’s either not used to whispering

or she’s sorry for waking me

 

while Nutri-Grain sing their deliciousness into the bowl

the first in a day of pleasures rare and reliable

reminders of things I have always known

that I will belong somewhere, that I am happy

 

happy now, in a house warm and never stifling

allowing the comfortable movement

of elements between its walls:

air and light, peace and love, enough for all

Ashes

“We brought her ashes here.”

Someone could have said this

That someone could not have been me

Because I wasn’t there

Not in mind, not in spirit, not in body

I was absent on every level

In fact, I think I went to school

Did I really go to school?

For want of something better to do

That must have been weird for the teachers

Their dead colleague’s son returns to school

Instead of attending their dead colleague’s funeral

I wonder if it hurt? (Me? Them?)

I didn’t wonder at the time

I just didn’t want to go

Didn’t want to know

I saw the dead when death was done

No need to attend a funeral rerun

Clear and simple

That was the way I saw it

 

“We brought her ashes here because …..”

I can tell you I have no idea why

I wasn’t there I tell you

I wasn’t involved

Not in the slightest

Not for the sightfest

I guess it was because standards were everything

I guess it was convenience if anything

 

“We took her ashes elsewhere”

I mean

It would have made more sense don’t you think?

Well, with hindsight anyway

I wonder now where that elsewhere might have been?

I imagine there was a place somewhere distant to the mass ash repository

Somewhere that had more meaning?

To her

To Dad

To us

To me?

I wonder where that place might have been?

It bothers me that I have no idea about this

Instead of being encapsulated

Did she think about where her ashes might be cast?

She had time

So much time for dying

Was there time for thinking about this as well?

Thinking about the special places

The places that meant something

The places where her ashen cloud

Could manifest as transient shroud

One last act of giving

One finale to living

 

“Here lie her ashes”

I still don’t know where

I still don’t want to know

I haven’t been there

Don’t want to be shown

Wherever there is

And I won’t go

Because there is a neutral and meaningless place

At least, I don’t know what it means

Elsewhere might have been easier

Somewhere I could understand

Where she could still lend a hand

A place for her to show

Somewhere I might want to go

 

 

Australian Crawl – Sirocco (S2 Reviews)

sirocco

EMI Records 1981 Vinyl

The cover outside:

Six very clean cut young men grace the gatefold black and white cover. They are generously spread across front and rear panels. The nice thing about this is you have to open the cover fully to appreciate the photograph. It is a grand image, on a truly large scale, in a way only an LP cover can deliver. They look so comfortable with each other. A relaxed confidence and bonhomie smiles out from the sleeve. They are a pretty handsome looking crew as well. Only front man James Reyne stands apart, challenging the cameraman with a look of veiled menace. Somebody in this band has to represent the rock ethos.

The cover inside:

Black and white once again features across the interior. Six portraits from the same shoot as the front hang across the centre top of the display, only this time it is Simon Binks doing the meaningful look into the camera. The potrait shots are placed across a greyscale muted sun, shining down onto the yacht Sirocco (it does look like the actual yacht). The yacht is sailing a calm sea. White on black gives the lyrics definition. They wrap themselves around the sides and base, parting just enough in the middle to encourage our eyes to track reflected sunlight up to the silhouetted boat.

 

Side 2: Track by track

Trusting you (Bill McDonough, Guy McDonough)

This song immediately sets a frantic, choppy pace with Reyne’s similarly choppy vocals requiring a familiar (to the previously initiated) bit of concentration if you want to catch all the lyrics. The sentiment revolves around a relationship from which trust has fled. But it doesn’t appear to be a romantic relationship. Maybe it was with management.

 

Errol (James Reyne, Guy McDonough)

Errol is based on a genuinely infectious pop bass run that gets straight into your head. This was a big hit for the band and I have fond memories of belting it out at dances and parties along with the rest of the off your face masses (wistful sigh). It is an expert paraphrasing of the great Errol Flynn’s bio. A song that not only makes you want to dance, but also know more.

 

Can I be sure (Simon Binks)

I think you could describe this as a bit of a lyrically sophisticated, musical plodder, of the dah de dah bass line variety. In a fairly analytical way, the lyric once again is questioning trust. My guess is that being in a highly successful band meant coming across all sorts of fakers and people so image conscious you would never be quite sure who was real. It is a worthy piece of reflection.

 

Easy on your own (Kerry Armstrong, Brad Robinson, Simon Binks)

The ringing guitar solos and a cute reggae break are features here. James’ voice invites you in by challenging your capacity to understand what he is singing, so you tend to concentrate on what is going on. This is not a bad thing. Actress Kerry Armstrong was partner to Brad Robinson, so writing lyrics about how much easier to be on your own was a surprise to me. Maybe the song is saying it is tough being partner to someone often on the road – and this could have referred to either of them.

 

Love boys (Bill McDonough)

Something a bit musically heavier. This song would have gone down well live. It is topically a pretty heavy song as well. I mean the characters are tattooed, bent, bash their women and heading for prison. I don’t know who the Love Boys were (are?), but they sure sound nasty. I only ever went to King’s Cross a few times. I am glad we never met.

 

Resort girls (Guy McDonough)

Here’s one that pricks up your ears as initially the lead guitar follows the vocal nicely and closely. However, it also has an air of desperation from the get go as women, young and older, head for resorts looking for love and finding something less.

 

Summary

This second Aussie Crawl album was a huge hit for the band. Sitting at the top of the charts for 6 weeks and only bested by John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” for the year, it remains a keeper. Side 2 is no slacker, hosting one of the three single releases, “Errol”. The lyrics hold much more interest than your average pop/rock album. For this feature in particular, I rate it highly. Full of memories and just as fresh to hear again today. I still enjoy it.

Diary of a Retiree: Day 281