Sunday, March 4, 2012

Blink of an eye 2

A long time ago now I wrote a post called "In the Blink of an Eye" where I spoke about how quickly life is seeming to pass.  A couple of weeks ago my oldest son had his engagement party and I made the following speech and make no apologies for some bad Dad Jokes.

Thankyou to everyone for attending Meg and Luke’s engagement and I want to say that this is the first formal welcome of Meg into Luke’s extended family and Lyn and Glen and Raelene and I welcome her and look forward to getting to know someone we hope will one day be the mother of our grandchildren over the years to come.

I googled engagement speeches and found that there are a few etiquettes about what format such a speech should take.  I thought about Dad jokes and thought I’d start with the story about that American actress who got stabbed overnight, Reese ummmm, Reese help me out here.  Witherspoon.  No with a knife [and there were groans].

Then I thought that I’d tell a couple of brief stories about Luke and some of my memories of the way he grew up.  

I remember very well not long after Luke was born when the nurses asked me if I’d like to give him his first bath, so I carefully wrapped one arm around his shoulders and grabbed his legs with the other hand and as I lifted him he bent in the middle and his feet kicked him in the head.  Even then he looked at me and gave me that WTF expression.

It’s fair to say that Luke’s driving ability is a bit scary.  I gave him his first lesson at Narooma in our Starwagon van and he planted his foot on the accelerator and took his hand off the break and we headed, wheels spinning towards a ditch.  I had to pull the hand break on quickly to save us.

In 2001 I was in the States at a conference and Lyn let Luke drive to the airport to pick me up.  I got a running commentary from Erin all the way home – that was where Luke side swiped a car, that was where he mounted a gutter, that was where he nearly hit Evan xxxxxx.  Poor Evan waved to Luke as he was turning the corner and leaving the wheel on full lock he took one hand off to wave back and started heading straight towards him.   I never saw Evan again.  I don’t know if he kept running after his near brush with death or whether everytime he saw us coming down the street he dove behind a bush or letter box or wheelie bin to make sure Luke never waved at him again.    

Then there is the story about the car accident Luke had recently where he ran up someones bum, and anyone who has driven with Luke would know that is not out of the question.  Both cars pulled over and Luke was surprised when he looked up and coming towards him he saw that the driver of the other car was a little person, a dwarf for those who are politically incorrect.  And he was fuming, smoke was coming out of his ears and he said to Luke “Ï’m not Happy” and he said “Which one are you then”.

Those of you who are Facebook friends will know that Luke is quite opinionated and doesn’t have a high degree of toleration for people he thinks are wrong and I blame that on his Prep Teacher.  One night after I got home from work and asked him what he had done at school he told me that they were learning “P”words and the teacher was asking each of the kids to give a word that started with P – there was the usual Pop, Puppy and Pear but when it got to Luke’s turn he said Pteradactyl and the teacher told him he was wrong.   He was really indignant because at that age he new about the life habits of every dinosaur that had ever lived and that’s probably why he knew this dinosaur of a father would attempt to tell some Dad jokes during a speech.

Those of you who know me know that I am the family historian and if I look back at the women in the lives of Joyce men they will tell you that we are sometimes hard to live with, untidy, lazy sometimes, hoarders and opinionated.  They need plenty of patience and tolerance to live with us.  On the upside, we are all handsome and intelligent and I have to say get far better with age.

Enough rabbiting on – I’ll finish with this.   You can plan your life but not predict it.  Much of the journey Luke and Meg are undertaking will be fantastic but there will be times when it isn’t so good.   The lot of an army wife is a difficult one sometimes, but so is life.    It has peaks and troughs.   Each and every one of you in this room are important to Luke and Meg now.   There are new friends and old, family, aunts and Uncles, cousins, siblings.   Some of you will be around to share in the successes of the relationship for the rest of your or their lives, some of you will drift on in different directions.  For those who stick for the long haul I charge you with this duty – celebrate the many good times that Meg and Luke have coming but please be there for each of them if times get tough.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wilkie or won't he

Image by Matt Golding- WA Today
And he did...sort of.   Andrew Wilkie withdrew his support for the Gillard Labor government because they failed to honour a written commitment given to him as they were scrambling to form government, that they would support mandatory precommitment in poker machine venues.  Setting aside whether that would have worked or not what really happened here?

Julia Gillard reneged on an agreement she had given him supposedly because it didn't have the required Parliamentary support.   She gave the commitment at a time when she needed his support to form government When Peter Slipper jumped ship from the Liberal Party to become Speaker in the House of Representatives therefore giving her an extra vote she no longer needed Wilkie's support.  She couldn't continue to push ahead with what he was asking because members of her own party in New South Wales and Queensland who are in marginal seats were under a lot of pressure from their local clubs not to support the legislation.  A bad look if a Prime Minister gets rolled by her own party on the floor of the House, so easier to break a promise.

And let's face it she doesn't have a problem breaking promises...."Kevin Rudd has my full support"..."there will be no carbon tax under any government I lead".   Political expediency is everything for our Julia.

And what about Andrew Wilkie.   Some will say a man of conviction, a man who stands by his principles.   This is a bloke who stood up to the Federal government over whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or not.    I would argue that point with him because I spent a fair bit of time with a lot of Melbourne Kurdish people a number of years ago who had first hand knowledge of entire villages wiped out by chemical weapons that Saddam used on them.  So I''ve always been a bit skeptical about Andrew Wilkie's assessment of Iraqi capabilities at the time the second Gulf War began.

In this case though, Wilkie has decided that he can no longer support a government who broke a commitment they gave him.   He had no trouble supporting that same government when it broke a pre-election commitment given to the Australian people about the fact that a carbon tax wouldn't be introduced.  And that is the problem with moral high horses, you run the risk of being called a hypocrit if you don't consistently apply the same standards to all promises instead of just the ones that you want them to keep.  You cannot vote to support legislation that breaks one promise and then yell and scream about the same people breaking another one.

The sooner the next election comes the better.  Irrespective of who has the power let's hope that we don't have to put up with wacky independents with pet causes that hamstring proper decisive and honest governance.