Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mr President

I had this one sent to me today:

Osama Bin Laden decided to send George Bush a letter in his own handwriting to let him know he was still in the game.
Bush opened the letter and it contained a single line of Coded message:

370H-SSV 0773H

Bush was baffled, so he e-mailed it to Condoleezza Rice. Condi and her aides hadn't a clue either, so they sent it to the FBI.

No one could solve it at the FBI

So it went to the CIA, then to MI6 and Mossad. Eventually they asked ASIO for help.
Within a minute, ASIO emailed the White House with this reply:
'Tell the President he's holding the message upside down.'

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What are they thinking?

How is it that our Navy can shut down for two months over the Christmas New Year period.   Who's minding the borders and what's going to stop the drug and people smugglers from using the hiatus to penetrate those borders.  I don't believe that the working sailors would expect to be shut down for that amount of time.  They all joined up knowing what the job entailed.  It makes no sense at all.  I can just imagine what my soldier son is going to say about this one.  He's volunteered to work over Christmas so his mates with families can have the time off.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Smooth

Days were simpler once.   Protocols were followed, manners expected and given.  If a bloke was seated on a train, tram or bus and a female got on he got up and gave her his seat.  Now there's a shit fight to get to the seats first.    Please and thankyou are things of the past, sometimes.   I'm not sure when times changed.  It was a while after that young bloke in the photo left behind his bowtie and fedora.    Sunday best was always worn on a trip to the city in those days.   No longer, and that's not a bad thing.

Well that's my ramble for tonight.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Full Moon Rising

Last night was a full moon.  If they come around every 28 days does that mean they are always on a Thursday?  I've never thought about that before.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sliding Away

I'm scanning some old slides which is something I've been meaning to do for a long time and I'm up to 1978.  My 21st birthday in fact.  The photos were taken on a Pentax K1000 SLR which unfortunately was stolen in a burglary in around 2001 and was a present from Mum and Dad for my 21st.

What has struck me looking back is the number of people who have now died - family, friends - some way too young.  And it is also funny to look at these images from so long ago through eyes that are way different from what they were then.  Older and wiser - maybe.

Certainly I had no idea at that time how things were going to unfold and what direction life would lead me in.  Despite the porn star moustache, I did not become an actor.  I am glad that tight turtle neck sweaters are now way in the past because, whilst I'm not as bad as some, the roof over the tools shed has grown a little since those slim and taut days of the 70's.

There were some things that occurred on that weekend that I had totally forgotten about until I looked again at the photos.   In this one, take not of the envelope on my mates lap.   It says "√črection Instructions" and I was greatly amused by that at the time I got the slides back and realised what it said.    All of my mates had banded together and bought me a hiking tent and we had spent that afternoon erecting it.

I used that tent a fair bit over the years.  I never actually did a lot of hiking but we did camp every year and that was the thing we used until kids came along and we needed something bigger.

And in the next photo you will see a blanket hanging on the clothesline.  That was from my bed and it had been washed because a mate of my Dad's got blind drunk, was put to sleep in my bed and he wet it.    I know why I hadn't thought about that incident for years.   It was the middle of winter and pretty difficult to get the mattress dry.   That wasn't the thing that turned me off drinking but it helped keep me from it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Times Change

The lady with the gun and wearing the apron is my Grandmother Lily Smith.  The photo was taken in around 1943 and my mother, who is the one to the right of my grandmother, is the only one left alive.

The lady on her knees is my grandmother's sister, May and the girl at the front right is my aunty Nancy.

The menfolk were at war.  Grandad was besieged in Tobruk and Uncle Phil in Papua New Guinea.   Two of my Nana's brothers were POW's, one at Changi and the other on the Burma Railway.   One brother in law, Laurie Mayhew, after whom I was named, was already dead in Rabaul, killed by the Japanese within hours of their invasion.

And yet for all that, the picture is a happy one.   They've probably been out rabbiting, something we also did as kids, and then finished off the day with a picnic on the beach.   It looks a bit like the beach around Cape Schanck but I can't be sure, and that would have been a major day trip back in those days.

Things were oh so much simpler then.  The world was on fire and yet there were times of normality, and the courage of ordinary people is something to be admired.   I am very proud of my family.   All of the men went to that War, those who were old enough.  Some didn't come back, but those who did returned to their womenfolk, knowing they had kept things going, taken the rifles and shot rabbits to put food on the table, hunted fields for mushrooms and dangled string in farm dams for a feed of yabbies.  And despite the worry found the time to laugh and joke, and live life to the fullest.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Keating's Change of Mind

It's no secret that former Prime Minister Paul Keating had a touch of arrogance about him and at times since he left politics he's seemed like a bit of a dummy spitter, in some ways like me and the way I feel about my former employers I guess.  Bemused that people could have the audacity to get rid of us.

Still for all that he is the author of one of Australia's greatest speeches and I will reproduce it in full here down below because when you read it, you may find it difficult to understand his latest comments.

In a speech last week Keating stated that the notion that Australia's nationhood was born with the ANZAC spirit at Gallipoli was "utter nonsense".  The disappointing thing for me is not that he said it but that it devalues the speech below.   That if out Prime Minister at the time held the same views this ex-Prime Minister now holds then the speech seems tainted by some political expediency.  I hope that is not the case.

Funeral Service Of The Unknown Australian Soldier
Speech by Paul Keating
November 11, 1993
We do not know this Australian's name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, or precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances - whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was. 
Yet he has always been among those we have honoured. We know that he was one of the 45,000 Australians who died on the Western Front. One of the 416,000 Australians who volunteered for service in the First World War. One of the 324,000 Australians who served overseas in that war, and one of the 60,000 Australians who died on foreign soil. One of the 100,000 Australians who have died in wars this century.
He is all of them. And he is one of us.
This Australia and the Australia he knew are like foreign countries. The tide of events since he died has been so dramatic, so vast and all-consuming, a world has been created beyond the reach of his imagination.
He may have been one of those who believed the Great War would be an adventure too grand too miss. He may have felt that he would never live down the shame of not going. But the chances are that he went for no other reason than that he believed it was his duty - the duty he owed his country and his King.
Because the Great War was a mad, brutal, awful struggle distinguished more often than not by miltary and political incompetence; because the waste of human life was so terrible that some said victory was scarcely discernible from defeat; and because the war which was supposed to end all wars in fact sowed the seeds of a second, even more terrible, war - we might think that this Unknown Soldier died in vain.
But in honouring our war dead as we always have, we declare that this is not true.
For out of the war came a lesson which transcended the horror and tragedy and the inexcusable folly.
It was a lesson about ordinary people - and the lesson was that they were not ordinary.
On all sides they were the heroes of that war: not the generals and the politicians, but the soldiers and sailors and nurses - those who taught us to endure hardship, show courage, to be bold as well as resilient, to believe in ourselves, to stick together.
The Unknown Australian Soldier we inter today was one of those who by his deeds proved that real nobility and grandeur belongs not to empires and nations but to the people on whom they, in the last resort, always depend.
That is surely at the heart of the Anzac story, the Australian legend which emerged from the war. It is a legend not of sweeping military victories so much as triumphs against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in adversity. It is a legend of free and independent spirits whose discipline derived less from military formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and the demands of necessity.
It is a democratic tradition, the tradition in which Australians have gone to war ever since.
This Unknown Australian is not interred here to glorify war over peace; or to assert a soldier's character above a civilian's; or one race or one nation or one religion above another; or men above women; or the war in which he fought and died above any other war; or of one generation above any that has or will come later.
The Unknown Soldier honours the memory of all those men and women who laid down their lives for Australia.
His tomb is a reminder of what we have lost in war and what we have gained.
We have lost more than 100,000 lives, and with them all their love of this country and all their hope and energy.
We have gained a legend: a story of bravery and sacrifice and with it a deeper faith in ourselves and our democracy, and a deeper understanding of what it means to be Australian.
It is not too much to hope, therefore, that this Unknown Australian soldier might continue to serve his country - he might enshrine a nation's love of peace and remind us that in the sacrifice of the men and women whose names are recorded here there is faith enough for all of us.