A Grain of Salt 2022

A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Sunday, 4th December, 2022. Salt finale 2022. Mind over matter? The Bruce Lehrmann abandoned rape trial of Brittany Higgins, other women coming forward? Is it about Brittany or selling newspapers? Do they care, the newspapers? It's all about timing really. If it's instinctive there's no need for thinking. You know. Others can work at it, get better like everything else, the odd success but never quite get there. No matter. So what? So at 86, I pause to take stock. Three weeks to Christmas Day, the countdown begins, and before you know it, it's there, again. How lucky (most of us) are. Forward your gifts to Pensioner Cliffie @ Rye RSL. “How good is Australia?" Pretty bloody good, unless it’s burning or parched or flooded or you’re in aged care, or relying on NDIS, or if you’re Indigenous, or Julian Assange, or a journalist investigating war crimes, or if you’re casually employed, wanting to buy your first home, and obviously Brittany. The great news; economist Sean Turnell, a year in a Myanmar prison. Released, interviewed on the ABC's 7.30. Full of beans. Also my old suburb Northcote won by Labor, and Gus's son in Hastings, against the flow of ignorant Mornington Peninsula residents, Mornington and in particular, Nepean Ward. A sense of balance, this time of year. 'With the state election now a memory, Andrews aided and abetted by the Murdoch clan concentrating on Desperate Dan rather than policies, and windbag Jeff Kennett, as good a time as any to reflect over the Christmas period. First, for Liberal voters to stop believing the daily disinformation served up by the Murdoch Clan. "Don't let him get away with it" Away with what, the lockdown? Another on election day - ‘‘Late Libs surge puts Andrews under the pump.’’ Absolute nonsense, highlighting the refusal of journalists to ignore opinion polls for the sake of a political angle; either that or bugger the readers or obeying their masters? Yes, a healthy Libs increase in Malvern and Nepean but we knew this before the voting. Second (perhaps?) realise Andrews approach to our lockdown saved lives, despite anti-vaxxers, anti-lockdowners. Chris Brayne, after a positive 4 years, copped the lot from left wing haters, for no logical reason other than a belief in anything detrimental served up by Sky News and the Herald Sun. Or perhaps a smaller section of believers thinking this election was about getting rid of Andrews? The Liberals likely need a female as their new leader, albeit highly unlikely. Federally I see no point in the censure motion against God's man, Scotty Morrison. Vengeance is not a good look and anyway, the Virginia Bell  inquiry served its purpose. On the other hand why have an inquiry if you don't act on the results? Mind you, the writing was on the wall with the disappearing Arts policy (axed Communication and Arts), the ABC cuts, couldn't hold a hose, and shipped off to Hawaii without bothering to tell his deputy PM, way back in 2019. Scotty - Red sails in the Sunset? or the old saying "Good riddance to bad rubbish."  


The wash up 1: From The Chaser, edited, via (supposedly?) Peta Credlin, Tony Abbott's cast off: "Balanced journalist and Liberal Party employee Peta Credlin here, and I regret to inform you that a great tragedy has occurred this weekend, with breaking news that Dictator Dan has somehow managed to steal the Victorian election with an extremely narrow margin, a margin so low that it isn’t worth looking up. In any case, just know that in this time of great disaster, it’s ok to be sad and we will get through this together. If we all just keep watching Sky News for the next four years, it will be like Dan doesn’t even exist." 


Wash up 2 Scotty: From Niki Savva "He was woeful, the worst prime minister I have covered." Editorial, The Saturday Paper: "Prolifically deceptive, also thin-skinned and prone to unsavoury fits of rage and self-pity. His contempt for the media is obvious, but that contempt also extended to his own cabinet and basic conventions of democracy. And thus, to the Australian people." [At this early stage of the Albanese government I almost feel sorry for hard right leader Peter Dutton, fascinating times? "If someone is not a socialist at age 20, goes an old political maxim, they have no heart. If they are not a conservative by 40, they have no head. It points to a general truism that people tend to become more conservative with age." I started at 13, still against the tide at 86? Truisms be damned.]


Anson Cameron, The Age, edited, his wife overseas: "But tonight she’s gone, and it’s time to let loose the heedless young rebel that still dwells within. My first move when her car drives out of the street, and it’s a bold one, is to shelve the vegetarian cookbooks. They won’t be needed. Beer, meat, Chokitos, wine, and Glen Campbell singing Jimmy Webb songs . . . that’s holy behaviour, and I will not deviate from it. No one pretends to enjoy a bean curd nosh-up more than me. When she rings tonight from her escarpment overlooking her desert I’ll tell her I just heard on the news that women are getting period leave now, which is great. Progressive. Equality at last. In other news, I have a slight tummy ache. Probably all that tofu you left for me in the fridge doing me good, purging my toxins."


John Hewson, The Saturday Paper: "The recent COVID blowouts in case numbers have caught many by surprise. This situation was mostly initiated by another example of Scott Morrison’s self-absorbed, delusional behaviour. The former prime minister sought political advantage by rushing to ease restrictions before last Christmas, hoping the benefit would extend through to the May election. He claimed a desire to “restore freedoms” to many Australians who had endured the period of lockdowns and other economic restrictions that were a part of the early response to the pandemic. This was irresponsible and ignored the overwhelming domestic and global evidence of the infectiousness of Covid-19 and its evolving variants, and the risks of long Covid. Moreover, excess deaths are at “a level such that Australia’s cumulative COVID death rate in 2022, as at the end of October, exceeds most of its OECD peers”.  


HISTORY2: If Mum went to town she would call in at the Maypole Delicatessen in Little Collins Street, behind Coles, to buy baked rabbit, ham off the bone and potato salad; or the fish shop in Elizabeth Street near where the London Hotel was for shrimps. On extra special occasions we would have crayfish and mussels. Sometimes Auntie's Elsie and Dolly would share with us, and they ate the horrible guts parts. Dad wouldn’t let us have a beer in the house until we reached 21. He never wavered from this rule, despite much pleading, late teens. Came home drunk once, greeted by brother-in-law Jack (Sharp) and Dad. Jack apparently spoke harshly to my mates for allowing me to show myself at home in such a state. Jack was a tough bugger in his youth, out of Port Melbourne and with a superb background in working class family tradition. This tradition shone through in Jack, a popular young man who always made one feel safe in his company. He was a staunch follower of South Melbourne in the VFL but within 2 years he switched to Collingwood, or else? Nor were we allowed to swear? I was always having nightmares. The Bluebird, Stairway to Heaven, and The Mummy films saw to that. Even the witch in The Wizard of Oz. Auntie Elsie said I cried until I was fourteen. Nah, maybe 13.  


A Christmas message, repeated: Kurt Vonnegut. “When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favourite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play sports. I do theatre, I’m in a choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes. And he went WOW. That's amazing! And I said "Oh no, but I'm not any good at ANY of them." And he said something that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before. "I don't think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you've got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them." And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from failure, someone who hadn't been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could "Win" at them." 


Integrity and transparency? "Look into courts, or private houses. Judges give judgment according to their own advantage, doing manifest wrong to poor innocents to please others. Notaries alter sentences, and for money lose their deeds. Some make false monies; others counterfeit false weights. Some abuse their parents, yet corrupt their own sisters. Some rob one, some another: magistrates make laws against thieves, and are the veriest thieves themselves. Some kill themselves, others despair, not obtaining their desires." [Robert Burton. 1577-1640].


David Littleproud announces the Nationals’ opposition to the Indigenous Voice before he even knows what is in it; Barnaby Joyce-lite? Then Peter Dutton fails to support the censure motion, displaying his loyalty is to party ahead of country? Big year for Peter 2023 with his mate, the impervious Morrison, looking down?... Greed 1/ FTX and crypto currency; not all greed is good? Greed 2/ I see it as a 'no brainer'. You seek to buy a house, you know your cash limit, it follows your borrowing limit, and your bid is successful. The choice of a fixed or variable interest rate on your loan. It follows, the effect of variables being taken into account? Blame yourself? How many of you voted for a government who approves the evils of negative gearing?...I had an untroubled childhood, which leaves me with no excuse if I come fowl of the law?.. So we were required to number each box 1-8. After number 1, possibly 2, the rest were numbers based on instinct or simply filling in the blanks, as instructed, or a rejected vote? Absolute nonsense, despite the preferential double talk hardly anyone understands or gives a monkeys. One box, or two, or at a stretch 3. The rest blanks. Common sense?...Collingwood 2019 Copeland trophy winner Brody Grundy (now to Melbourne) wanted 7 years. I thought 5 at most. Placed him 5th back then, behind Pendlebury, Jack Crisp, Brayden Maynard and Steele Sidebottom.....David Pocock voted for the industrial relations omnibus bill, alongside a host of reasons why. And Jacqui Lambie against it; her reason - ‘I’m not keen on it’??...Freedom, fascism, aka dickheads?...Letters; I have read of trials where the cockpit need only be occupied by a single pilot and one pit bull terrier. The dog’s job is to ensure the pilot goes nowhere near the control panel. The pilot’s job is to feed the dog...On schoolies - "Teach us to sit still" [T.S.Eliot]...Keep the child in yourself alive. Without it you're a pain in the backside. I'll be back January 1st, hopefully. Enjoy your Christmas, Jingle bloody Bells, with love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Sunday, 27th November, 2022. Bali would be nice? Former PM Paul Keating to Danny Andrews: “Son, leadership isn’t about doing what’s popular, leadership is about doing what’s right.’’ The Victorian election, a madcap merry go round blame game, thank goodness it's over. The News Limited attack dog attitude on the lockdown after Danny's fronting their reporters for 100 or more days and then getting blamed for the results surely significant. Voters desert the Liberal Party, hopefully deserting Rupert Murdoch's lot. Now the schoolies invasion, then to Christmas, peace and bloody serenity, family gossip aside and decent food, assuming I get the urge to get into my car and visit. According to the experts (tongue firmly in cheek) playing the 'Get Dan' was the ace card for Matthew Guy. Silly me? I assumed Guy was Dan's ace card? Imagine all those new hospitals with Matthew as our Premier; brings to mind Yes Prime Minister. Empty hospitals, concreting done, no money to complete and staff them? ‘‘Whatever happens in the communities and countries where we live and work, and the world around us, News Corp will be there to shed light and share insight,’’ said our Rupert Murdoch, 'light' and 'insight' being the key 'bullshit' words. The sadness of News Corp publications and Peta Credlin purporting to publish the news, whereas they (often) successfully misreport in order to bend their interpretation of truth. The serious bad news, as almost ever, climate change, Russia, China, the USA and cost of living. The higher the COL the lower the value of our (miniature) bank balances, the Christmas urge to spend not withstanding. Remember Mad magazine "Wot me worry?" Andrews cops criticism for the lockdowns, strange? His appearance day after day after day to face the biassed media attack prostitutes was a plus as I saw it. Yes, the security guards at the beginning of COVID, (a rushed seemingly logical decision, where else? a federal responsibility? at that time), yes he follows AFL Geelong and yes never one for preferencing our Mornington Peninsula, but still, a first choice over Matty Guy, who mainly looks after his rich buddies (Phillip Island?) and clearly a record from previous false promises. From The Age: "As the polls tighten and Victorians prepare for a potentially long election night to determine the make-up of our next government, the Labor machine has shifted into overdrive with a slew of attack ads that will further muddy an already grubby campaign." Not in my world, News Corp full bore, on radio, television, iPhone, home phone all for Matty. And Thursday (advertising ban) a Tony Jones interview as part of the Nightly News, cute interviews with voters in Andrews electorate asking why they are not voting for Danny? as ever, cunning bastards, as it eventuated fooling nobody. As for Andrews, surely someone can advise him on his wardrobe; those dreadful tight jeans/trousers? The sausage sizzle was nice, albeit over priced. By 9PM last night it was all over, as expected. Danny Andrews, the winner, The Greens, primarily a softer form of a female mafia (for now) with the odd sprinkling of males in need of being loved, the  most improved. Moving on...


The Uluru Statement from the Heart, a First Nations Voice (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) enshrined in the Constitution, the Government to hold a referendum. Sounds good, likely yes, waiting on the wording. The usual human nature weakness, not necessarily in individuals, but almost always in a numbers game; a group mentality, namely "the more they get the more they want."? Apart from the likes of Jacqui (as simple as that) Lambie, rarely is anything black and white? Take Canberra as an example, politicians featherbedding their own nests, degrees of crookedness. Stuart Robert et al. [Scott Morrison, Australia's Donald Trump, multiple ministries, power wasn't enough, Scotty wanted more, no surprise to Cliffie. And his future, like Matty Guy's, historically, positively? - "Say goodnight Gracie"? Josh Frydenberg's realisation of the cause of his back pain (stabbing?) would be a comfort to former PM Malcolm Turnbull, not the only sucker?] Back to The Voice - Former PM John Howard, “I think there are substantial arguments against the Voice. In fairness to Peter Dutton, I want to give him the opportunity to formulate a position before I do in detail. I think what the Coalition should do is what it’s doing at the moment – that is, waiting until they get more information. But the Labor government is not big on explanations about the Voice.” Old Johnny, funny, hypocritical as ever. No Voice for Johnny, no matter his seemingly logical words - Best not to pre-judge, await the wording?


Chief executive pay is up 40% this year and profits up 26% over the past 10 years. Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke is leading the bill through the parliament. Industrial relations, the difference between Labor and Liberals. The government’s Fair Work Legislative Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill is the biggest shake-up of industrial relations in a decade and it seeks to redress the bargaining power imbalance between capital and labour to end almost 20 years of stagnating wages. Former Wallabies captain, ACT independent David Pocock, the crucial swing vote, is still deciding which way he will go, seemingly enjoying the spotlight? Time will tell. A big week for Albo's lot. Again, we wait patiently. 


HISTORY: "It was the day after my 65th birthday. I was having coffee in a little Cafe looking out over Port Phillip Bay, across the road from Nepean Highway, thinking back to when I was a larrikin of 33, an Accountant in the Public Service. They had a tea room where we would all congregate twice daily (later they introduced a tea lady in the name of efficiency, thus a drop in morale; idiots). They talked about superannuation units, reserve units, and how much they would be worth when they reached retirement at 65. Bored the pants off me. The average age for dying was 67, a lousy two years to whoop it up. 2001 was light years away, or so it seemed. I looked up at the street sign, Ozone Street, Rye, on the Mornington Peninsula. God’s waiting room, sadly mainly Liberal voters. The big Safeway Supermarket looking out to the Bay between Ozone Street and Hygeia Street (both named after the ferries running from Port Melbourne to Sorrento between 1886 and 1910). I ordered a second hot strong cappuccino from the pretty young waitress as I pondered not too fleetingly on her shapely legs and superb bottom, a minor advantage of invisibility. The Street sign, Ozone Street, my memory instantly zippng back another 25 years. It was here, in Ozone Street, in 1940, some 60 years ago, that we had our first holiday. Back then travelling to Rye from Northcote the equivalent of an overseas trip. A train ride, Rushall Station to Princes Bridge Station, Flinders Street Station to Frankston, then the long long trip on the Portsea Peninsula Bus to Rye. The excitement of seeing the water, the bay, on the Frankston train between Mordialloc and Aspendale, something special, that whiff of anticipation, that very special smell. Number 14 Ozone Street, the ramshackle long gone. No electricity, an outside toilet a hole in the ground, for sewerage, fit for the wreckers, complete with spiders, ants and mosquitoes. Catch a fly and feed it to the spiders. Certainly no Safeway monster. And so we arrived. Mum, sisters Valerie and May, brother Lawrie, Big Auntie Elsie and Uncle Albert, Auntie Edna and Uncle Tom, and me. I had come full circle. How did I survive? Any of us for that matter." [Election day Victoria yesterday, my mind drifting, in the anticipation of a victory, and the probable loss of Labor in Nepean?]


Scotty was sailing through the tempest? Virginia Bell - "Corrosive to public trust in government" on Scott Morrison's various ministries. By and large politicians are in there for number 1 with a few rare exceptions, but this joker always top of the list...Well done Socceroos, Nimibia beaten by the 'Aussie spirit'? ...Surely Josh Frydenburg was naive?...Time to replace our singing Governor-General, David Hurley?....The Greens are voting for progressive reforms; progressive? another interpretive mystery word? OK, they had a good result, awaiting what they see as progressive, or a typo error-possessive?...The AFLW season is over, bugger, I missed it...If the COL price increases are a result of the war in the Ukraine why are the supermarkets profits so healthy; Woolworths+6%, $35?...USG? Investor losses of $800k 500k, crying for blame. Invested at 9% interest, greed, self blame, no sympathy; and in Afghanistan, hunger, sale of a kidney, sale of a child, for food?...Glenn Maxwell’s broken foot, sex and drugs?...The latest trend, sports people and their opinions, far and wide, in most cases their apparent eliteness does not necessarily marry up with an elite brain. The more money these elites attract the more we are drawn to their (less than) elite opinions...Paul Hogan Roast on television. A USA thing, our copy a bore, even worse, hosted by Shane Jacobson?...From letters, an epiphany? "To city traders, I say, do what European city traders do: make your new weekend Monday and Tuesday, and open up Wednesday to Sunday."...Cigarettes can kill, and beer, wine, gambling, viagra, iPhone while walking or driving, countless others, life's lottery?...Amanda Muggleton in The Mentor, Theatreworks. Appropriate...The inevitable confrontation (war?) China, Taiwan and the USA...Surprise surprise; major business groups are opposing changes to industrial workplace reform?...The true meaning of cyber security, Big Brother?...The tragedy of parking in a handicap spot and when you get out no bastard gives you a suspicious look?...“Nobody is going to pour the truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself.” [Chomsky]...Can airline pilots work from home?...I have never come across anyone in whom the moral sense was dominant who was not heartless, cruel, vindictive, log-stupid and entirely lacking in the smallest sense of humanity. Moral people, as they are termed, are simple beasts. [Or Greens? by Oscar Wilde]...The Doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill so the doctor gave him another six months. With love, and occasionally, hopefully, respect and affection, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt.😎😘

Sunday, 20th November, 2022. Short and sweet. A week dodging politics, fast forwarding commercials, offsetting hopefully, Stress, a state of mental or emotional strain. Enjoy the day? We can but try. In spite of what's happening in the world, our country, state, local, one must feed the soul. Without it we have very little on order to come to terms with ourselves. On politics we wait, locally till next Saturday, the possible recognition of these Teals and the increasingly doubtful return of Matthew Guy. Federally Industrial relations and Jackie (as simple as that) Lambie? The wages push is surely a mandate, but will it get wages moving, or would our Albo be sunning in Bali and Bangkok, at least cleaning up for Scott Morrison's bumbling? Whatever, the price of electricity will be front and centre and again no word on Julian and others? As for a national strategy ‘‘to re-establish Australia as a global leader in gender equality’’ pity they didn't tell this to my late wife, a 'rule the roost' veteran. Assuming Labor succeeds can we also look forward to a Teals government, (Sophie Scamps, Kylea Tink, Allegra Spender, Monique Ryan, Zali Steggall, Zoe Daniel, Kate Chaney.) Roy Rene - Mo. "Strike me lucky". Christmas approaches, if you haven't got a halfpenny God bless you. I like to think I worry when it's time to worry, easier said than done. Most of the time yes, but as in human nature, most of the time we kid ourselves. God only knows which way we are heading, and truthfully, I'm not sure about God. Short term I'll settle for a week of doing nothing, maybe dream of winning powerball, smoking less, appear to be (but not) listening to the various political opinions from seemingly knowledgeable friends at my local RSL, my mind luxuriating. And so it goes...


Having a shower, thinking (ha ha) meditating, harking back to the very early 1940's and on orders from Mum, more powerful back then that ASIO, "Don't forget to wash behind your ears!" Why would she say that? It comes back to me almost every shower. We had a tin bath, cold water tap and heated from a copper, with a contraption called a dipper (like a saucepan) for the hot water transfers. I didn't ask mum why, fear of reprisal after my first question; Sunday nights - "Why am I always last in?" Life is full of Y's without answers. I've lived with two sinks now for 20 years and still haven't used the smaller one? "It's not fair." was my catchcry. "Neither is Joe Louis's backside." was Mum's reply. It never was. Later, with our new war service homeland house and carpets (Wow) with three bedrooms. Parents to the big bedroom, sister to second biggest (why?) and brother and I in bunk beds in the smallest bedroom? I muse on seeing a psychologist (psychiatrist?) asking if this unfair treatment contributed to my poison-ality? A 3 months wait to see these experts for their psephological sage. I'll give it a miss, albeit it's not fair. Democratic values, a mirage?  


The Saturday Paper; editorial: "Should Trump win in 2024, the world will be worse off – just as Australia would suffer should anyone even remotely like Morrison ever again be made prime minister. Democracy is too fragile to endure egos as fragile as theirs, to suffer through their righteous incompetence and make do with the myopia of their self-interest." Paul Bongiorno: "Australia has more than one million Australians of Chinese heritage and almost a million of Indian heritage, not to mention thousands of others from elsewhere in Asia and Africa. Setting aside Dutton and previously Morrison playing to the “Murdoch right-wing entertainment media” Albanese "Australia agreed “on principles to guide the relationship based on equality, mutual respect and benefit and a commitment to coexist peacefully. And these principles remain important today.”. [Sounds about right.]


In desperation I watched the ABC's Insiders. Waste of time, particularly Stan Grant, Greg Sheridan and Simon Birmingham, OMG, opinionated pains in their (my?) backsides, China, Russia stress. Switched to a replay of The Bourne Supremacy. Did I hear PM Albo say "It is what it is"? Disappointing...The Qatar World Cup; money works?... Renters? Lots of promises, hospitals, whatever. Pick a side who promises to help with renters; accommodation as a result of flooding?... Interesting? A French nuclear-powered submarine off the shelf or a 15 year wait for an out of date one?... Theatre critic (sometimes head kicker) Cameron Woodhead unfairly returns to full bore in lambasting Shane Crawford's journey into theatre - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Stay strong Shane... Bitcoin bullshit bubble burst, blast?...Wages up or inflation down? A no-brainer, the latter...Bugger the thousands on temporary visas. The return of Novak Djokovic is a cash transaction, not that I give a damn...Good news, about time? The ABC's Dr Norman Swan, accused of sensationalism by James Erskine, Shane Warne's former manager....Government housing problem? - takeover of two golf courses from the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas?...String bags coming back?...Health, a political question. Why? Ditto gambling. And slogans; simply "Victoria"?....We can only hope, albeit not necessarily - of seeing the backside of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson...When does the AFL season start?...A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play. She asks "What part is it?" The boy says, "I play the part of the Jewish husband." The mother scowls and says, "Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part."...With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜Ž

Sunday, 13th November, 2022. Wages, jobs, interest rates and petrol prices front and centre; the quadrella. “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” I'm not a Nietzsche fan but being a pensioner there are times when his words are appreciated. Putin, Xi and Trump, threesomes, triptych's, loathsome types, set aside for reality, the now? Two issues: A respite from the floods with Summer looming and possible bushfires. Rather than the blame game (planning, governments, anything other than self blame) we should seriously consider the reality of climate change, the "no such thing" rusted on by so many. At the very least we should ask our politicians their thinking before we cast our vote. COP27 yes but with China and India opting out? The second, why so many men (mainly) and women hunt for gold with seemingly no end to their ambition? The numbers (of people striving to take a dollar from our pockets to put said dollar into their coffers) has become near to astronomical. Did you spot the red moon on Tuesday night 9.14pm? Free of charge. Add in the reporters, aka prostitutes, loaded with explosive questions (because we need to know?) supplied by their employers. No prize for naming the employers. Amidst all this the need to remain calm, to think for ourselves, to recognise senseless things, questions, reasons. Yes, we are overloaded with hackers, but equally, possibly moreso, the wankers, by phone, email, Facebook, in search of my lonely dollar. Henry Bolte was almost a saint, a ruthless saint? The way I see it you must bring something in (to your thinking). If not you are a dope, or at least zip it, your mouth. Akin to acting, hard to start a scene when you are dead and you don’t know how you died. It wears out the creative talent; [Adler]. Do it, but be careful that you don’t do it their way but you put in your way of working, the need for discipline. Fight it your whole life. Well, not always. If your over 80 you're excused. Here in Victoria it's full on, Danny Andrews, home and hosed, Matthew Guy screaming at the rear (though not on show, such a pleasant reasonable fellow?) ably supported by his super rich backers, to no avail, my opinion only. True, voters (the majority) are easily led, but let's be honest, even the most ignorant have some self respect. As for hackers posting more sensitive customer data again I ask, where is ASIO? None cause me stress. Schoolies cause me stress, now extended from two weeks to three? Why? to get the Jekyll and Hyde's out of Melbourne and dumped at Rye? I'm getting on in years, upgrading my computer out of reach. Then the television, every night every night; get Daniel Andrews and over stating the COL crisis, the downpours, the Murdoch Clan, full blast. It passes me by, to my local RSL, two pots, meditate, home to dinner, a television murder mystery, thus extracting the word 'algorithm' from my suspicious ageing brain, or - "I'll think about that tomorrow" And so it goes...


Second hand Rose? The yanks have had their senate stuff, no crushing victory for Donald's lot, now the time to free Julian, Albo? Add in the hundreds living in our country awaiting recognition, citizenship. Then there's Mamoud, one of the last hundred left on Nauru for nine years, costing Australia $750,000 a day. In 2012 he fled tribal warfare in his home country of Somalia. He says he feared both conscription and the fatal consequences of refusing. “My area have some tribe problem,” he says. “We fight always together. Some people die. Your tribe force you to fight. If you do not fight, they will kill you. If I stayed there – this area – maybe I die. And also, family die because of small sickness like malaria or TB. We have no hospitals. When women make baby, many die. Plenty of my family die like that.”. “When we first come, we taste some freedom. Christmas Island was like prison. Nauru we had good food. But after three or four months, we feel boredom. We just stay in our tents. People mentally change. If I know I stay for long time, I go to school and make my English good. But we don’t know. We don’t make anything. If they tell us five years, or nine years, you make something. Australia play with our humanity. We don’t know what we do." The political cost of closing the camp, for both major parties, is calculated as much higher than any financial cost. And so Labor has pledged to maintain what is referred to as an “enduring regional offshore capability”. That it’s effectively empty is beside the point: it serves principally as a deterrent. [Yes Master!]


Coercive control, a type of domestic violence abuse, in the news of late, against females, particularly by manipulative males: What you do, where you go, who spends the money and what it’s spent on. They work hard and make the money, so they should have control of it? They control you with their disapproval, name-calling, putdowns, demeaning, blame and guilt – no matter what you do; you’re wrong or not good enough. Are you having an affair? jealousy, insecurity, ownership. You’re to blame if they hurt you. Their hyper-sensitive, hurt feelings. They argue endlessly and withhold approval and love if you don’t do exactly what they want. They stimulate your self-questioning and self-doubt. They isolate you. [No doubt it can happen the opposite way, against men (I should know!) but likely 90% against 10%? Either way, a low life destroying both up to a point, the former NSW cricketer comes to mind.]


Danny mate, cobber - electricity prices?...The washout T20 England v Australia MCG. Lucky 4 us?...Remembrance Day last Friday, the 60,000 Australian soldiers WW1, a combination of loyalty and ignorance, lest we forget...Teachers should be allowed to teach, not fill in stupid forms designed by control freaks following orders by even more stupid politicians. Why do politicians know more about teaching than teachers? And why the mollycoddling of school kids?...Eddie McGuire's Millionaire "This one's jumping out at me." "Not in my area of expertise." and during the commercials "Hurry. Offer, sale, ending soon."...Nonsense, that word - un-Australian? Michael Clarke, T20 cricket. "Yet we picked an aggressive 11 in this World Cup squad yet played so defensively. Very un-Australian.’’???...Comedy of the week, a dead heat? 1/ St Kevin's upmarket boys school ‘‘We have programs specifically designed to teach and shape our boys’ behaviour and attitudes about respectful relationships." 2/ Independent candidates are independent?....Car registration free for apprentices; Another Andrews rort?...I watched the documentary on Facebook, also owners of Instagram and WhatsApp. Clearly nothing is ever deleted, so remember if you've done or said something wrong. On the other hand, having been on them for years, it's too late?....Good to see our government looking after the dogs, but not the ducks?...Best letter "Ending negative gearing equals an increase in tax income for government and more affordable houses for sale." Too true, but cutting stamp duty (Victoria) does not, necessarily, result in more affordable housing....“There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry” [Mark Twain]...Download the 'Calm' App? With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ™ƒ

Sunday, 6th November, 2022. The cost of living, or full of (baked) beans? The greed of shareholders, gas and electricity, the ever expanding difference between the haves, haves not. We wait, hoping for that promised change. And so it goes. Not quite, but getting there, the warmer weather, the (water) floods subsiding, but not the election flooding promises, in our faces before the pre-polling. Maybe smell the roses, way way back to those times, service stations, where we drove in, and out pops an attendant to do it all for you, oil, gas, a clean window sir? Sir? Or reality? - the budget papers. It depends on how you see it. Melbourne Cup Day I spent $20 on gambling, a drop of $30 from 2021 due to smoko increases, plus $15 on beer to a 2021 total of $65. Nothing on beer 2022. A budget decrease from last year of $45. The political answer to the question "How did you go?" is obviously "Good. $45 up on last year." It's all in the phrasing? State election. Some 27% yet to decide, Andrews, Guy, or the do gooders, so likely Teals or Greens, so likely another four years with Danny despite the Murdoch Clan. Note: Do gooders almost all consist of 'thinking' people compliments of their thinking minds. My advice, via ex Hawthorn coach John Kennedy - "Don't think. Do!" The interpretations? flowing freely at my RSL re the Catherine Andrews car accident (compliments of Matthew Guy's mob and the Clan; low blow), the falling down the Blairgowrie stairs, was he drunk, a mate at Sorrento was there, was she driving? If bullshit was gold I could buy Twitter. I should add it's not only RSL members who often talk out of their backsides. The Nine News full on against Andrews before that early postal voting begins tomorrow week, not forgetting Tony Abbot's Peta Credlin and her ridiculous 'Cult of Dan Andrews'. On the matter of bringing these Syrian wives back to settle in Australia our opposition leader Peter Dutton said "Some of these wives have been just as bad as the men." No doubt he was informed on this matter from another mate at Sorrento? I have no problem with settling these wives and children, not in Rye obviously, but maybe Sorrento? Sean Kelly, on the budget: "By making sure their policies won’t cost anyone a cent, by making sure rich people get to keep their money, and by making sure poor people don’t get more money. That is how you avoid controversy in Australia." [Fair enough for the present, in the light of the current media blitz on Danny Andrews, but also a need to "have a go" (particularly industrial relations) during 2023 and beyond. On a personal basis less cigarettes, more canned food.] 


Chris Wallace, The Saturday Paper: 'Business Council of Australia president Tim Reed’s unsustainable claim on the ABC’s 7.30 program on Tuesday that the relative shares of profits and wages in Australia had been “pretty consistent” for 30 years. Anyone who can read a graph knows the profit share started rising relative to the wages share two decades ago, and sharply accelerated over the past several years." [There's more, but you get the point, hopefully?]


The B52s in Darwin, why not Melbourne? Yet another misguided attempt? to please the doodle dandies in case of war with whoever, sucking up to big brother with very doubtful (if any?) protection guarantees, both major political parties on board, possibly, probably - more scared of upsetting big brother. The US midterms and republicans to the fore, Trumps. Uncle Sam has got our back, integrity, transparency and accountability to the reserves bench, and I'm a monkey's uncle? Maybe at Portsea?   


RIP: Totalisator Employees Association, 1990's. A small union group, maybe 300, of on-course totalisator workers, and my time as a member, vice president, president and organiser. Disappeared into obscurity after the members voted (against my advice) to join the Federated Clerks Union, effectively resulting in increased fees and no voice at the table. We won most of our battles, lost the odd one. An honest, non preferential union unconnected with the normal power groups, a part of almost any union in Australia. As a public servant I was also one of thousands in the FCU so I was well aware of the workings of these bigger unions. Also back when, a member of Actors Equity, a vice-president, equally subject to power cliques and bugger the rank and file. Unions are like our local councils, for the good of the whole, but too much power and the whole, or around half of them, are forgotten. Then obviously, the other side of the coin - corporate greed. Lots of harsh words from the rich list about unions in industrial relations. Unions? Some 15% of the workforce? A storm in a miniature teacup. Increased wages? What of the other unprotected 85%??? Just meditating...     


I was always into "gamble responsibly" as the number 1 piece of bullshit on television. Replacing ‘‘gamble responsibly’’ with a stronger warning is well and good but sadly will not make a difference. A difference (of sorts) will ease the situation if they banned gambling advertising on radio, television and newspapers, mainly for our peace of mind. Also, no chance obviously, why not ban all casinos? Alas, "truth in political advertising" has knocked "gamble responsibly" out of the ring, both parties...Life is indeed strange. Everybody (at last) now realise the injustice of robo-debt, and yet, nobody blames Scott Morrison?...Aged care, disability care, childcare and energy costs? A Royal Commission and recommendations considered, then ignored, as per the previous government; no thanks... Outgoing spy chief, ASIS "A high IQ and a low ego" a requirement for spying; sounds like Cliffie?.....Sorry, talk of Elon Musk and Twitter is something I can live without.....If Sixty Minutes can unearth accused human trafficker Binjun Xie, where were the NSW police, the Victorian police, ASIO and out federal police?...Daniel Andrews sponsorship of the Diamonds netball team, $15 million, a political rort? at our expense? No tick with this one Danny.... “As our self-interest diminishes, our anxieties disappear, and then come peace and joy, which always gives us a good spiritual disposition and a clear conscience. Every good deed helps us to create this feeling of joy. The egoist feels lonely among threatening and alien events, and all his desires are in his own concerns. And a kind person lives in a world of friendly events, and the goodness of each of them helps his own goodness.” [Schopenhauer]. Of necessity - Patience is a virtue? With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ€”

Sunday, 30th October, 2022. Concern (old age, covid, global uncertainty) maybe, confusion yes - to the too hard basket, for now? According to the theory of evolution and the so called changes over a certain period of time, I ponder, are we the final result? and if not what will be the next change, in (say) 5000 years? A desire to find truth, or what is bloody truth, particularly in politics? More to the point, now we have one Labor budget (estimate) done, but far from dusted, another two (at least) before the next federal election. A plan for the future? A super safe (nothing) budget with power prices set to increase, supposedly due to the Russian war, floods and super profits by selling our power at higher prices to overseas markets. Sad really. With a weak opposition, surely a good time to take risks and challenge those gas companies rather than this seemingly gutless caution. Perhaps download an Aap, Armstrong, the underground world of dating, or Bumble, with hook ups for Jamaican girls. Nah, too late for Cliffie, sticking to dreaming, no opposition in dreams? By and large budgets are bullshit. Assuming the hackers have my full medical history, including one of the first to undergo a vasectomy 1970's, to toothless, colonoscopies, endoscopies, impotence and eyes trauma. My 100 mg viagra has been in my drawer for a decade. Add in my Woolworths purchases, everyday rewards, heavy on the cigarettes, and there you have it. Hackers begone, nothing to see here. So strange. The blame game to Optus, Woolworths, Medibank (deservedly?) and as always our government, but nothing much to the hackers and particularly our super duper top shelf ASIO experts, who (bye the bye) have had my personal information on file since 1955? I'm not a gambler. No need. I won the lottery many years ago, coming to acting on a whim. Twenty years as a public servant, a well paid job, superannuation, the comfortable retirement dream 2001, and chucked it all in, 18 months earlier a mate asking me to attend drama classes with him (a nervous Nellie?), never before having seen live theatre, apart from "The Pyjama Game" musical 1950's. Actors, weirdos? Sometimes, in just the one life, it's worth the risk, though credit to my fellow public servants who talked of their superannuation units incessantly and leaving it to their kids, as a badge of honour? What it brought to me over the next 40 years was almost all pleasure, allowing for the usual dickheads, ever present in all jobs. The opportunity to work alongside such an array of talented people still makes me pinch myself. What was once a ridiculous gamble, probably contributed to an extra 15 years of living a life? Not recommending acting as as career, just saying, luck. Something we all need right now, climate change, the greatest moral challenge of our time, being top of the list (apart from the rusted on Liberal supporters and a few old codgers at my local RSL) and a government willing to attack the problem? Should I head to The house of wellness, a reflux cure? No way. Positivity! Ever onwards... 


The Chaser: "The Chaser is this week pleased to announce its surprise new sponsor, a Ms G. Rinehart, who we can assure you all is a very kind and generous woman, and not at all the child-suing, IPA funding, daughter of a genocidal lunatic like some people make her out to be. What people fail to realise is that she is also very, very rich, which - as we have learned this week from many comments on Facebook - magically cancels out all the bad stuff. Isn't that great? However, much like the Diamonds netball team, we admittedly have had to deal with some internal concerns from a few annoying employees who are unhappy they’re now being instructed to only churn out satire about how great mining is for the planet. However, we have promptly resolved the matter by sacking those that complained and buying ourselves new yachts, so everybody won out in the end. The Board would also like to take the opportunity to ensure our loyal subscribers are aware of the company’s new agreed values: - Billionaires are taxed too much!!! - Climate change is a bit suss, isn’t it? - Netball sucks - It's actually cool and normal to sue your children." [No mention of our arrogant T20 cricketers?]


Letter of the week, The Age from John Stewart: "Former premier Jeff Kennett’s outrage at Dan Andrews’ plan to revive the SEC reminded me of an incident on late night talkback radio years ago. Kennett’s government had privatised the SEC, and his treasurer, Alan Stockdale, was a guest on the program, justifying the decision. An elderly gentleman rang in and questioned the rationale of privatising government assets. Stockdale replied, in a condescending manner, ‘‘what we are doing is making it possible for as many people as possible to own shares in the electricity industry’’. The presenter failed to have his finger on the delay/delete button because the listener replied: ‘‘We all used to own it, you f---ing idiot.’’ [Good stuff, the listener speaking our language.]


Sir Peter [Dutton]: ‘‘We will have a clearly defined, positive and bold plan ahead of the next election to take our country forward.’’ Excellent. Which is a vast improvement on the 'nothing' plan taken to the last election. Note; no mention of Kennett or Vladimir Putin (electricity prices) or any specific policy? The need to be noticed albeit saying bugger all. The forked tongue, cunning as a fox? "As a nation, we celebrate our wonderful Indigenous history. But we need to be equally proud of our British heritage and our migrant story". Also the settlement of Lebanese Muslims in the 1970s, boycotting the apology to the Stolen Generation in 2007? Nothing on the indigenous voice to parliament? [Peter Dutton no appearance with Matthew Guy in the lead up to the Victorian election; first sign as a flicker - of common sense?]


Dear hackers, for your information?  Last birthday celebration? 2006, aged 70. "I’m having a party here at 46 Dunham Street, Rye on - SATURDAY, MARCH 25TH. STARTING 3PM, CONCLUDING AT 8.02PM. You are invited, together with any partner or family you wish to bring. It will be a big crowd of relatives, neighbours, children and friends, as rather than a private dinner with the risk of offending, I’ve invited everyone I have an address for, which does not particularly suit me, but hey - surely I can withstand 302 minutes for one day in my life. Having said this I shall understand if big crowds are not your scene. Obviously no presents - at my age I have everything I want or need, except the obvious??? If you’re a heavy drinker bring a bottle of whatever - if you’re a light drinker bring nothing. Food and drinks will be provided. Do NOT bring any dogs or your own music. Smoking in the sunroom or the backyard ONLY. Do NOT arrive early. Do not bother with the RSVP business. Just come if you want to." [ Attended by 71 people, sadly a few now deceased.].


What's the story on Geelong of late, both political parties talking the place up; even featured on Nine News weather. Wasn't the premiership enough?...Second hand Roses; Trump, Johnson, Matthew Guy; thankful Morrison took his bat and ball home?...I'm a simple man  who asks easy questions for those intellectuals to answer, such as "If our Liberal Party are best for our economy, in the light of all those money making underground activities, how come we have had deficits for the past decade?...’’The new 10 days domestic violence leave law; why wasn't it accessible in my marriage?...Money - and Doctor Who 1965-2022. RIP...What is cyber security?...It's no surprise The Age newspaper regularly features criticism of Danny Andrews top of the LETTERS pages. Politics for sheep?...Over 40,000 year 12 students currently sitting for their final exams; hoping to God they don't come to Rye for Schoolies...The budget; $84 million to the ABC over 4 years. It's a start, even though (sadly) likely all for Sydney? And the Australian content quotas? We patiently await the (so called) National Cultural Policy...Privatisation has always been a benefit - for shareholders...The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back." Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"...And even funnier - Tax cuts for the rich trickle down to the poor?...Being a Collingwood supporter I'm a veteran of handling one of life's dangers; coping with disappointment. I'll be on number 4 in the Melbourne Cup, a first selection since my last winner, Evening Peal, 1956? [Hope of ill gain is the beginning of loss; Democritus.] With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜‹

Monday, 24th October, 2022. Yet another "lull" week. Note: to Cliffie - Begin writing and see where it leads? "Monday Monday" Mamas and Papas. "We are spending more than we are earning"? Tell me something I didn't know? Real wage growth or real pensioner growth? Why can't I qualify for parental leave? Me, me and me. More and more; the (almost) amazing difference between what people expected help-wise from the government in the 1940's to 1960's and the present day. If uninsured why can't the government pay? If you transferred $200,000 superannuation to another financial scheme at a higher interest rate (scam) why didn't our government warn us? They did it for their kids, and so on. Their kids? The budget looms tomorrow, along with an overflow of nonsense, as always. A time to stop and think? the philosophical approach? Perhaps keep out, wait until the (bull) dust has settled? Think for myself, not giving a rats for what the newspapers tell us? Better still, an hour at my RSL, 2 pots of Carlton draught, and meditate. The capital of Israel, Tel Aviv or Jerusalem? Bigger fish to fry surely? Let's not upset the Jewish community. Peter Dutton, bless him, had not ‘seen a bigger foreign affairs blunder in many years'. Ever the comedian, grasping for relevance. And us? We crave meaning? to our everyday living, despite flooding (food prices) and political variations. And good weather. 72 hours without heating, almost as good as winning powerball. Hacking, as in who hasn't been hacked? Where is ASIO when we need them? On a brighter note I went to Woolworths Rye Saturday at 11am, normally a no no, but needed cigarettes and cod. A rat race, packed car park, but my luck was in, the one spot near the entrance. To the deli, empty, by the time I got my cod, a dozen others waiting; again the powerball luck, scarpering off the premises for lunch and the ABC news. The sadness of those rental increases, hungry real estate agents urging the increases, food, cost of living prices. No flooding in Rye, but some of the cases filmed were not in the flood areas. I can only assume a weekend at Rye, despite the rain, is crowded with the entitled rich visitors, (increasing in numbers judging by the many upmarket houses being built via either negative gearing or drug monies, perhaps?) here for the Cox Plate, horse racing, gambling responsibly? but with an economic twist/angle to their shopping, being Woolworths (cheaper) rather than double prices in Blairgowrie and/or Sorrento. Amazing. I added crumpets at half price to offset the tsunami cigarettes costs. If we must have these floods better to have them close to an election. The slightest tiny crack in the woodwork and out pops the rorters; thieves, crooked tradies, not un-Australian as some suggest, not un-anything, simply low life, evermore. True, by and large the vast majority pitch in to help, but not necessarily supermarket prices, resulting in increased profits, shareholders, sadly. Overseas again, and it's bye bye to Liz Truss (who our Peter Dutton spoke of so lovingly just days ago), resigned, further into the mire, yet another coalition of chaos? And in America, the mighty USA, presently Trumped, both countries a fine example of our future when the super rich run the place. Moving on... 


Sponsorship, their values in alignment? Netball players, cricketers. Test captain Pat Cummins: ‘‘More so than ever before you’re seeing players’ personalities and interests and passions shine through and have a bit more of a say than maybe in the past. I think the most obvious, front-of-mind things you can see is who we partner with. So I hope that when we think of who we want to align with, who we want to invite into being part of cricket, I hope climate is a real priority.’’ The more (money) they get the more they become self righteous? The natural move into the higher echelon 'do-gooders' mob? Sam Newman, for a change, was spot on. Netball now in debt, $15 million sponsorship cancelled, via the Hancock lady. Not convinced on the Alister Clarkson Chris Fagan so called inappropriate behaviour towards First Nations players. Surely AFL coaches have their behavioural requirements for all players? Values? Who decides? And New Zealand stuck it up the values Auzzie cricket team. Sport, we love it, egos front and centre. The more they get the more they want, forever. Thinking seriously (assuming I win the powerball jackpot next Thursday) of upgrading my values? Vote for Matthew Guy? Suggest? Drop Marcus Stoinis add Steve Smith.


Let's remember our federal public service was cut drastically under Morrison's reign. Most of those remaining would more likely be supporters of the Liberal (conservative) way of thinking. Public servants are no better or worse than anyone else. A Labor government may well be a new broom but still one very tricky road ahead, particularly the so called resources of the bureaucracy. I did 20 years as a dignified? public servant, no real different than politicians ambition wise, admittedly slightly less sophisticated but equally as devious. Will be interesting to watch for speed road bumps after Chalmers delivers his budget. Whatever, with interest rates on the rise, on present form, our Treasurer would need a miracle not to cop the fashionable blame game not only from the opposition but also those undecided voters, also known as what's in it for them voters, also known as AFL supporters of all teams except Collingwood. Just saying?   


Santorini Port. 1993. Waiting for ferry to Rhodes...Darlings, we thought we were leaving at 12.30am. No such luck. Amended time 2am. A 15 hour trip ahead. Goes via Crete. We were told that it’s not possible to go from Crete to Rhodes. Bloody Greek logic. Hard to fathom. Last night at the Ios Club some young Pom’s had a sling at Australia & a nice man sitting near us said quietly “Why do birds fly upside down over England?.....it’s not worth shitting on”. Gave us a giggle. Poor darlings; I felt very sad after talking to you today. Made me feel absolutely selfish. I would have hated you doing the same to me. Never again without you. Ios was good & at times bad. The lifestyle on Ios is fairly mindless - catering for hedonistic transients. Out of the village it is gorgeous. Hugh & Rania’s home is fantastic, overlooking the sea. I would imagine well worth the years they lived in the village with the thoughtless. Sandra is very good company & we like & dislike similar things. We were glad to leave Ios. Santorini is out of this world. We went to a bar on the top of the place on the Western side - on this lovely open terrace 1km high over the sea, listening to classical music & drinking gin & tonic. We watched the red sunset behind a volcanic rock island in the distance. We saw old men riding their donkeys home through the alleyways; the bells tinkling. Wonderful, and very emotional, especially because I wanted you with me to experience all this. We’re doing OK for a couple of ageing backpackers loose in a sea of youth. [Nice.]


Global Talent Agency, on Scotty, as a speaker = ‘‘aggressively working toward a net-zero global emissions economy’’?...I'm told there's a 3 months waiting list for an appointment with a psychologist, psychiatrist here on the Mornington Peninsula. Some people (most?) worry far too much about what other people think of them, surely one of the greatest wastes of one's time in the history of life. Maybe better to think about what you think?...I'm a sitting shot; hacked at medibank, Woolworths rewards, sensitive data? Living dangerously; though I confess my use of viagra could be embarrassing? Cyber criminals; blood from a stone?...Dutton again, even funnier. "One of the most extraordinary things he's seen in his 20 years in parliament re - Greens Lidia Thorpe had a 'thing' going with a former bikie leader, so what? Conflict of interest can have various shades of meaning. Expert more from our very own Peter Dutton come budget Tuesday, all part of his "I'm relevant" new found philosophy....Negative gearing, franking credits, Julian Assange, refugees living in Australia. Labor - cautious, timid or gutless?... The day I take notice of 3AW's Neil Mitchell on the pandemic response will coincide with the day I lose my marbles....Daniel Craig (Bond) knighted for services to film and theatre. Sir Cliffie?...Doctors (medicare) rort? No! Doctors are beyond reproach, like judges and police officers, correct?...Watched "Frankly" ABC Fridays, Fran Kelly, a favourite, the past 2 weeks. Actors; everybody loves everybody? I don't see the point of it but I'll keep watching, unless of course it clashes with "Casablanca' on another channel..."Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. Weather this danger and you are safe. The rest is downhill."...With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Monday, 17th October, 2022. From Sean Kelly, today's The Age: "Many writers say they do not know what they will write until they write it. They step into the dark. It is an exercise in faith." He got that right. A miserable week. One hell of a lot of rain. First, the coldest winter in my time, now the biggest downpour. As a kid I witnessed two bad floods alongside Merri Creek, Westgarth. If nothing else, coming to the lifetime conclusion (and six houses); stay well clear of flooding areas. So bad Thursday I cut my 300 steps to the RSL and remained indoors; life wasn't meant to be easy right Malcolm? The bigger problem is now, maybe? It's always nice to be involved in something you enjoy, but if not at least having something to look forward to, Correct? Therein lies the problem, presently bugger all. I watched Insiders on the ABC, no News Limited reporters? boring, despite Transport Minister Catherine King giving as good as she got. Bloody lulls, or respites? A man needs action to stir up his stove, certainly not a local RSL crowded out by Caulfield Cup punters. One of them said to me, enthusiastically after a winning bet before the cup "I always get the quinella and trifecta on cup day." Reeaallyy dear? In the midst if Einsteins? Moving on, the grumpiness aside -  "Voters need straight talk on state debt", The Age editorial Tuesday. Bad enough the year round but with weeks to go before the election expect it to hot up, skip if necessary. I'm for Danny Andrews. The catchcry as always "Where are they getting the money from?" Promises promises. Budgets traditionally are estimates colourfully lined with half (If?) promises. No idea what the Herald Sun or The Australian are saying but easy to guess. Representatives of the rich getting richer. Finding out what Victorians want surveys? 48% supported negative gearing reductions, what did the 52% support? Integrity and truth? Comedians. Degree of difficulty in accessing this nonsense, 98%. Expect with a degree of certainty, the deluge blame to Andrews, or the local council, or the lack of ABC warnings to evacuate? Sad obviously, particularly for those thousands who left the big city in search of the tranquility of one of the flooded country towns coupled with the idea of working from home. At the federal level the probability of a global recession and socko energy prices, through the roof, if we still have roofs/rooves? Again, expect much much more on voters blaming the government, but don't expect anyone suggesting we pay more taxes. As for our eastern rain deluge, our man Danny Andrews front and centre, as expected, as always. Also expected is Matthew Guy to find something to attack Danny for. Alongside all this kerfuffle is Anthony Albanese chickening out of the respectable decision to cut those 2024 tax cuts for no good reason (for now?) other than fear of the big three newspapers coming down boots and all on behalf of their entitled rich listers. Allowed to run on too long due to Dutton and Co (Murdoch's lot) having nothing much to run with, certainly not on integrity. Billy boy Shorten lost last time, true, but at least he had a go. Yes, I know Peter Dutton is harping on about integrity in government (electricity prices), but with his record he has little to play with. Labor way ahead in numbers right now. I say to Albanese - "Have a go ya mug"? On the positive side a tick for Treasurer Jim Chalmers. And paid parental leave? wow, but not for actors? Who gives a stuff about the arts, certainly not our politicians. Keating knew, and John Gorton, but the others? ever thus, sadly.


Differences in age groups range considerably,  whatever the sex of both partners. Usually a 5 to 10 years age difference is considered acceptable, but over 20 years difference and most people question, not for any logical reason, more from an opinion without asking themselves WHY? Money or sex is so often, perhaps most often? the wrong conclusion. People will form an opinion on me, based purely on the fact I choose to write about it. I see it as a fascinating study of human nature, alongside another of my many fascinations; why so many tradies consider themselves deep thinkers, money, income? Another is AFL premiership coaches. Ross Lyon has never been a premiership coach, therefore not as good as the winners? Eighteen teams, injuries, luck. Surely the cattle (players) form part of the show? And so many sheep supporters. In Australian terms I'm ancient, best to be ignored, invisible, to a rest home out of harms way, an old man with tickets on himself, whatever. There surely must be a time in our lives when we stop thinking about sex. True, I'm a firm believer in listening to my body, but presently it's saying nothing. I'm thinking of Dean Martin's song "Memories"? Or the sheep, as in dodging them. Sometimes I refer to them as dickheads, but not today. It's that bloody lull, coupled with the sadness of all those flood victims? Maybe another letter to our local newspaper? No, wait a week. 


My daughter Jennifer arrived home from Greece yesterday, a 6 weeks escape. Occasionally (very?) more likely during a lull, I think back, 30 years, a letter from my late missus: "Sandra & I up since 7.15; cleaned the bathroom, the alleyway outside of drunks pee, vomit, bottles & food. Took 2 hours. I feel sorry for the locals, but it’s their living. We went to the bakery for yummy bread & watched the locals cleaning up. No tourists around this early. By tonight it will be shoulder to shoulder. Sandra feels a lot better today & will come swimming. Jennifer looks really well; she is a stone heavier but it suits her. I’m off for a fast walk....just back from dinner; baked potato & Greek salad, dip & octopus pieces with fresh bread. Cost $14, which included a bottle of wine & a bottle of water. Had a lovely massage from a Sydney girl $12. Boy, was it good. Also another swim at Milapotas between 4 & 6. I’ll go earlier tomorrow. After dinner we walk through the village. I’m getting really familiar with the place. The locals are so kind and shake my hand and say “Jennifer’s Mama”. I met the landlord Nickos, a toothless old bugger, but very friendly. He spoke only Greek, so I just smile and keep saying “Yassus”, an all purpose word it seems for hello, thanks & good. Rania is gorgeous, a very attractive, intelligent no nonsense 40 year old. You’d really like her Clifford. Her husband Hugh is also very nice. Joanna the daughter is a delight, precocious, pretty, affectionate and 14. She’s obviously fond of Jenny & hangs around her like a little sister. You should hear Jenny gabble to the locals. She sounds like a Greek. Everyone likes her, which is heartening. There is a dear old lady right opposite us, Nicoletta; she sits on her balcony and smiles at us a lot; likes Jenny very much. She thinks I’m pretty, so I like her too. I am having a great time, very relaxing, but I miss you very much. We are kilometres & kilometres apart - hard to comprehend. But not my love, very easy to understand. Good night, or kali-nichta as we say here. Love & kisses for eternity...Mary." [I perhaps should have gone, but I'm a home body by nature.] 


Gambling commercial "Take it to the next level" Meaning what?...The new  $5 note picture; Dane Swan?...I was never a fan of Julia Gillard, despite her famous (brilliant?) misogyny speech and the NDIS, albeit close to being 'doctored' by the resentful Liberals. Australia's ambassador to Washington DC Arthur Sinodinos expires in February 2023, I'm for Kevin Rudd to replace Arthur...May 6th, Westminster Abbey; can't wait...Black hole Professor Brian Cox is back in Australia, Fascinating man...Johnny Famechon memorial/tribute. A hero, an amazing boxer, and Lionel Rose; memories again, good times...As a heterosexual male (well, once upon a time) with no religion in particular, does this make me a "good bloke?"...Extinction Rebellion, NGV, stuck to Picasso’s Massacre in Korea. Why unstick them?...“In the struggle for life itself-this struggle for the moral and material world-our battle cry might well be that of the children’s game: “Come out, come out, wherever you are.” Whoever you are, wherever you are, no matter in what profession, art, craft, job, your task will be fundamentally the same: to proceed in such a way that your sense of yourself at its finest and strongest be somehow converted to the uses of your work, which shall reflect an ideal for yourself that is conjoined with an ideal for your friends-that is, the rest of mankind. Without such an ideal no sane life is possible.” [Harold Clurman]....With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com




 A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ€”

Monday, 10th October, 2022. Another relatively quiet week politically, both major parties jockeying for our future, cost of living, climate change, housing and the 2024 tax breaks. If you set your speed at 60 and you approach a 40 zone do you adjust? A need for the holistic process for life in Australia, sounds good to me. Not sure as to the meaning, but if assisted by my first rule, being "run your own race" I'll try it out in what I assume is a simplistic form; being 'nice' to all and sundry. A definition of 'my own race' at 86.5 years narrowed down to no dieting and no gym fees. Have I grown old gracefully? As most of my friends have left the building there's no way of knowing, or caring? Perhaps a clearer vision of what has gone on in past years, like looking down from the tallest building, to Port Phillip Bay, the Dandenong's, snippets of memories for and against. A balanced point of view? Regrets? none come to mind; I shouldn't have asked if I could kiss her, now well forgotten, almost. On the other hand, my fortnightly letter to my local council, but will they print it? -  "Surely they are kidding? Mornington Peninsula Shire "shout out" campaign to secure promises of money in the lead up to  the November election. More grist for the mill on the "worst ever" satisfactory survey. Right wing political nonsense from our born to rule Councillors, not forgetting the dumping of our cleaning people, our handyman services and the ridiculous expenditure on the coloured brochure in our letter boxes? If it wasn't so outrageous it could be funny, but alas, far from. Vultures come to mind. Breathing slowly, from the diaphragm. "They may look like idiots and talk like idiots but don't let that fool you. They really are idiots." [Groucho Marx]". Does this line up with my new found holistic process, possibly not, but surely we all come across dickheads requiring a form of response? It's Monday, no rain, no biting wind, and would you believe it, sunbloodyshine. As for Danny Andrews and Matthew Guy, evening news, fast forward, patiently waiting for it to all blow over? Even so, moving on...  


Corporate social responsibility? In the public's interest? I'm not a gambler, a mugs game, but I witness the benefits. The AFL, past masters and Fat Controllers of the ‘Do Gooders Society’ appear to have opted out of the evils of gambling, ditto Foxtel and all sports shows in TV Land. Bet365, Neds, Maltis? etc, gambling Apps, commercial after commercial. Sucked in. The clubs, as you would expect, claim some gambling revenue is invested back into the community. Some??? Another serve of the passive smoking furphy. The AFL have their clean hands in everybody’s till including the equalisation cut from the richer clubs, the television rights which are set up to allow we everyday supporters to either fork out for foxtel or feed on the lean pickings from Channel 7 which includes no AFL matches on our traditional Saturday afternoons. Then there’s the ‘gamble responsibly’ nonsense. There’s much more obviously but sufficient to say it’s hypocrisy at its best, shrouded in the idea ‘for the good of the punters’, also known as fiddlesticks. I don’t play the pokies but I see it almost every day at my RSL. Of course there’s a small percentage of damaged losers, as there will be in all forms of gambling, but there’s an upside for most of these gamblers. Most, particularly the pokey players, look on it as a day out, a social occasion. Painted, a picture of the sad lonely types drifting in to RSL's for company, noise, the bright lights of poker machines, losses. A never ending barrage by self righteous pissants, almost all of which get up to non Christian activities in the privacy of their own castles. Similar to magistrates who bear down on dodgy police evidence ignoring their own hidden evils. People do lose on the pokies, to the order of between 10 to 20 cents in every dollar invested. The Christians will twist this, ignoring the majority who get a form of pleasure (and yes, company, and yes, a feeling of belonging, and yes, an escape from boredom, loneliness, and yes, pleasure), prepared to lose within reason, hoping for an unexpected windfall. Some of those Christians go to racetracks, admiring the beauty of a horse, or a view, or a glass of champagne, whatever. Maybe they have shares in CommBank or AGL? Ban the television commercials yes, otherwise stay out. "Curst is the wretch enslaved to such a vice, who ventures life and soul upon the dice." [Horace]. Aside from all that, the excitement? of the Spring racing season is electric? A multi? Bugger off...


Like all weeks, when they pass, they never return, the cookie literally...crumbles: Mount Panorama Bathurst 1000; damn, missed it...Peter Dutton's softer side, refugee policy, offshore detention, African gangs?...The big two, cost of living and scamming. Eat less, buy cheaper? And no matter what, never send money. There is a third, climate change, presently ignored in spite of the evidence world wide; a carbon tax?...Oliver Twist "Please sir, I want some more?" The Ukraine...If half of the $250 billion worth of tax cuts go to those earning more than $180,000 per year why not chop it, keep the 37 per cent rate above $120,000? almost all are Liberal voters? Then again, the certainty of those with all the gold taking action, eventually, as always, to protect their gold. The Age quaintly prints "Why is housing such a big issue" and quotes statistics?  Take them to the grapevine Albo, they have already got dividend imputations and negative gearing, and buggered up the housing market, they will bite you whatever, cut off their noses?...Schools funding has been over the top, the latest, to maintain the funding to catholic schools? Easy, yes, and chop their tax free status?...Fair or not? Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan treated as badly as the mysterious indigenous players; no right of reply?...Queen Victoria Market ban on inauthentic Indigenous products; who can tell?... Essendon's Andrew Thorburn resigns, also chairman of the City on a Hill church; prejudices, fear of wankers, tolerance to the backline? Perhaps, but better he departs...Was Brittany Higgins raped, or both very drunk? No humping to conclusions please, evidence?...Low cost housing schemes, but where? Those with houses sympathetic, but not living near/with them?...Why is it so? Many kids way behind in maths, yet swisho on iPhones?...Lullaby for Loretta Lynn ex Butcher Hollow classy lady...Still the silence from our PM, for Julian Assange, which reminds me, though unconnected, what became of Schapelle Corby?...Strange as it may seem, when I was a kid in a class of 51, no-one opened up paths to enhance my opportunities?..."People hate the intrusion of common sense into morality, because if you allow that common sense has anything to do with morality then you may have to do something about morality, whereas if you keep morality pure and rarified, then you’re not called on to do anything." [Bertrand Russell]...One of these days I'll write about sex, but not now. I'll wait until I'm old enough to forget. With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Monday, 3rd October, 2022. A political lull. All parties jockeying for positions of importance, the correct response, the me me me talking heads, likely to produce nothing over the Spring Summer months unless COVID pops up again in numbers. Short and sweet while I get my head around these new daylight hours, same every bloody year. Daylight saving for 6 painful months, why not Summer only? If it wasn't for the alternative, Matthew Guy, rabbiting on the Nightly News every night, I'd vote against Andrews on daylight saving alone. Tony Abbot's royal commission into unions was to get Billy Shorten and Julia Gillard, successful is getting Billy, culminating in suffering the likes of real crooks governing our country in Scotty (who?) and Peter ( baa baa) Dutton, my unproven opinion. Great to see the re-emergent Billy on the Robo-debt trail in Queensland, more crooks (again my unproven opinion) concerning Morrison, Stuart Robert, Michael Keenan and the romantic Christian Porter. It's all happening? That and the supposed powerful, transparent and independent national anti-corruption commission, an open process? Come out come out wherever you are? ASIO Part 2? All that security information, hackers smorgasbord? As if not enough, the switch to racism, recalling Lovely Pauline (Hansom) and her stance? on all immigrants, particularly Muslims, and Andrew Bolt on Sky (Murdoch) News. Albanese: “There shall be a body to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.” Time will tell, remembering how Stan Grant squeezed out my favourite news reader Mary Kostakidis from SBS. And right now - what happened to our ABC? Previously also ABC Melbourne, long gone, radio only, Sydney centrified and Stan Grant hosting Q&A, once a favourite? On the positive side our new Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus is a breath of fresh air, as it should be after Michaelia Cash and Christian Porter. Maybe Mark to look more into the allegations re Hawthorn and Brisbane coaches? Nah, wait and see, patience required. Trust the AFL, sure can; not? 


By and large Rye, on the Mornington Peninsula, is a nice suburb to see out one's time. We are now in a pleasant lull, after the four day Grand Final influx leading into Melbourne Cup day weekend, and onwards to the Schoolies, eventually the perils of January. Dickheads on parade. Easily recognised due to some 15 years myself a member dickhead many years ago. The necessary ability to instantly be one of them if required, but always an option to quickly escape. Then the other types, also easily recognised because they open their mouths almost instantly to let me know their bank balance. Other than these small humps, and obviously the Liberal dominated local council and their expensive coloured letter box brochures, good value, no floods here, one day at a time. Having said this I considered yesterday's 5k walk  rather than the 42k marathon but decided on cappuccino rather than the long drive to Melbourne. And later that day, two beers at the Rye RSL. Love the lull.  


While on this lull, from my past, looking back, an acting career? Class distinction, real or imagined? In my day (1950's) it was indeed real. North and South of the Yarra, a different era. When I was around 20 (1956) I got the idea it was time for a change. Ever since, this same idea pops up once a year. Prior to I simply didn't think. When you came from an era of doing what you were told without question, no television, computers, no car, it was a clear path, particularly north of the Yarra. Twice I was rejected by South Caulfield parents of a potential girlfriend? [To be fair I incurred the wrath of the Collingwood head trainer (father) of a girlfriend when I arrived at her birthday party, north of the Yarra, without wearing a tie?] School, a job, get married, kids. My mother was law. Labor was law. Collingwood was law. When dad came home after 4 years away we had 2 rulers, again assumed, never questioned. After the initial first 20 years the idea of change was so stark I was ill equipped to act on it. It took another decade before I came up with an answer. The idea originated from a question I asked myself "What am I doing sitting here day after day in an office, suit, collar and tie, like the others, looking forward to turning 65, super duper, annuation?" Leave the public service? Nobody left the public service? Bugger it. Why not! End of my dickhead era? Not quite, but it was a beginning.


Who killed Michael Jackson? Nonsense...Football supporters in for a frantic 10 days due to the trade period/zzzzzz....The everlasting mystery as to the true political meaning of the magic word - transparency...Albanese on COVID "There's not a role for government in running every bit of people's lives forever. Too true, albeit money involved. Apply this to government and teachers?...The OPTUS open window, I'm with Telstra, still the iPhone calls on phantom money transactions?...Magpie swooping season in full force, no problem; I'm known...Jack Crisp, well deserved, two Copeland trophies in a row after  the previous doubtful two, Grundy? Top three Crisp, Pendlebury, Moore, as against Cliffie's top three, Crisp, Sidebottom and Maynard, special mentions for Pendles (captaincy) Cameron (courage), the Daicos brothers (entertainment) Moore, De Goey and Elliott (finals form) and our fantastic coaching team....Brad Scott as Essendon coach? smells a bit. Ross Lyon backed out early, saw the light? while the others went through that ridiculous process? Walls and Co, and Scott pounced, a process of cover up?... Egalitarianism and house prices, for wankers?...And for those two million+ millionaires living in Australia, almost all with the drive to get richer, maybe Cicero's words? "There is, I know not how, in the  minds of men, a certain presage, as it were, of a future existence; and this takes the deepest root, and is most discoverable, in the greatest geniuses and most exalted minds." Or Mark Twain "If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man."...With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt.😎

Monday, 26th September, 2022. The Queen has departed, bless her, and parliament returns, as in sits, today. Remember parliament? The anticipation of the October bread and butter budget, not? Some things bear repeating. Comparatively we have a pretty good lifestyle, assuming you have work, or you're a pensioner not stuck with exorbitant weekly rent, but equally, other than a handful of honest ones, our politicians are a conglomerate of self interested pricks. Whatever taxes are in now Labor will keep, and probably try for more, courtesy of their policies. And the Libs will respond by the increased security scare, particularly the boats from Sri Lanka and the emphasis on nuclear power, or simply not trusting Labor, as if we can trust them? They already have limited access to our computers and mobile telephones, purportedly in saving us from terrorists and criminals, convincing many on the smoking cigarettes, beer excess, poker machines 'for our own good' basis? It's only a matter of time before they can trace us every hour of the day including our past internet, email, private conversations history, toilet visits, whether deleted to not. Sitting ducks are we? Optus has confirmed up to 9.8 million customers’ personal details dating as far back as 2017 may have been accessed? [Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus is looking closely at the former government’s proposed overhaul of all electronic surveillance powers and is re- examining their reach, their effectiveness and how appropriately they are being used. Inspector Gadget? The Morrison government had proposed extending the surveillance and data access powers beyond police, integrity commissions, ASIO, and the existing law-enforcement community to the ATO and other sections of the bureaucracy.] And our Peter Dutton? Pure as Persil? Perhaps counting his cash from his negative gearing exploits, patiently waiting for Rupert Murdoch to rescue his beloved Liberal Party. For now his latest criticism of the Voice to Parliament, harking back to his stirring the stove when Melbourne was in lockdown on African gangs violence; racism or real? For now, better perhaps than a kick up our backsides? or same old same old, or simply power? Does a republic beckon, an El Presidento? Who knows? Moving on...


How true - master coach Ange Postecoglou "It dictates the mood of the week." Likewise Danny Andrews upsetting the plebs on the naming of a hospital, albeit well aware of his greatest asset, opposition leader Matthew Guy. Needless to say I cancelled my Fox Footy subscription ($29 a month) until next March, the calm of no AFL360, particularly Mark Robinson and On The Couch's Jonathan Brown, a Norm Smith medal judge? We marvel at the latest flare up on the alleged treatment of aboriginal players at Hawthorn. If the ordinary Aussie complements the football ability of an aboriginal player, his thinking is along the lines of no racism, and the obvious conclusion of how fair he is for supporting their ability? Eddie Betts no help in his seemingly logical suggestion to extend the investigation to all AFL clubs. Birds singing in the sycamore tree? Don't hold your breath for an early result, but expect much much more with Caroline Wilson on the job. Bias, racism, protrudes in all walks of life. Worth a reprint, from Phil Alexander, The Age, letters: "I attended a country high school west of Geelong in the 1960s. Our English teacher in year 9 (form 3 then) planned an activity where each class member had to choose a famous person. You then had to get in an imaginary boat lost at sea with two other famous people. Given that the boat only had enough food and water for one person, you had to argue to the class why you should remain while the other two were thrown overboard. I found myself in the boat with Elvis Presley and the Queen. I was Doug Wade, the great Geelong full forward at the time. The class voted the Queen and Elvis out of the boat. I’d like to think that my eloquent argument that Wade was more important than the other two swayed the students’ thinking. Perhaps it also helped that the class was full of Cats supporters." [As I saw it my boys, Collingwood, would have seen victories over Geelong and Sydney but for umpiring (crucial?) decisions. Hence, my two bob's worth on the bias question. "An artist has more than two eyes." - Haliburton.]


From David Crowe, The Age: Ten days before Morrison called the election, one of his ministers asked Governor-General David Hurley to sign a series of legal instruments that gave new or extended appointments to Liberal loyalists who gained salaries of up to $496,560 a year. On that day, March 31, the then attorney-general, Michaelia Cash, appears to have appointed 26 people to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in a classic ‘‘stack’’ of friendly faces to an institution that hears complaints on everything from welfare payments to visa approvals and – here’s an irony – access to information. [Sneaky, but not surprising? One wonders how this can be interpreted as governing for the whole of Australia? Shades of Former Australian trade minister Andrew Robb out of Parliament into an $880,000-a-year job with a billionaire closely aligned to the Chinese Communist Party.] 


On world affairs our darling Penny Wong is in the USA meeting her counterparts China (on trade) and the Solomon islands (on tact?). We wish her well, wondering if her common sense approach will be more successful than the previous government's ham fisted attempts?


Mike Tyson's quote: ‘‘Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth’’ With football now on its six month hiatus the usual question - trying to find lots of things not to do. Alas, no matter the age, my age, (86.5) a 'focus' is a requirement. There's nothing wrong with watching television, but never as a focus, other than a forced activity; maybe part of one's day mixed in with the necessary focus. Maybe a trip to Sydney, or overseas? My kids tell me I'm past it. Kids are like that. They grow up fast and adopt an advisory technique, elders before their time? usually, hopefully, meaning well, in my case more likely correct, the reason why irrelevant. No 'elder' status in my lot, but no weeping? What's really important is to decide what can carry my interest for the coming six months. A plan? Yes, there's politics, there's helping others, there's researching any number of things likely to help keep my brain ticking over. What brain? In fact we all have a brain and equally we are all different. I'm simply writing it down here while I consider my options. John Kennedy said "Don't think, DO!" I'll think first, give myself a month to come up with something. A plan. A focus. It's important. Doctors tell me walking is good for my health, my legs tell otherwise? A working brain at any age is good for one's health, physically and mentally. That, and remaining positive. First, get over it. Collingwood? A bloody point!   

Kane Cornes was up for the challenge, 725 kilometres from Adelaide to Melbourne for the  My Room charity, raising $3.29 million. Good stuff, but surely the government could have given that with the blink of an eyelid. A $50 billion windfall? The mysterious structural $30 billion deficit? The previous government gave  Murdoch's Foxtel $30 million. 


The AFL Grand Final. Both teams use negative tactics. This deliberate blocking of an opposition star by bumping, slapping. pushing, blocking is not football as I prefer it. Why not the best team wins? Geelong did it against Brisbane's Lachlie Neale, Sydney to a lesser extent with Jordan De Goey. Does this make them better coaches, win at all costs? Who knows, but I'm no fan of Chris Scott after the harassment of Neale. On the other hand my memory of Chris's bullying tactics against my boys in the early 2000's colours my thinking. On yet another hand, Scott is obviously a very good coach. "How good is footy at the MCG" said Scott. So true, hopefully never again finals at the SCG. Sydney never recovered mentally from their last half against Collingwood. My old mate Blind Freddy knew that before the G/F ball was bounced.


The AFL G/F? Robbie Williams was good, no cultural cringe. So it's congratulations to Geelong, may history repeat itself, back in 1952, and the team who won the following year?...Albanese nominates two priorities – climate change and ‘‘global security challenges’’. National security is ‘‘something much more than defence; it includes cybersecurity, health security, environmental security.’’ Agree....Remembering when Josh Frydenburg announced "We are back in the black"...Yes, we blame Russia for this war against the Ukraine, but who do we blame for those wars against Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan?...The four days (two running) holidays break; the Melbourne Invaders,  departed; phew...The protests/morality of women in Iran; masks, haircuts. Go girls...Mad as Hell is no more; so sad...Collingwood's Craig McCrae coach of the year. They got that right...Ask me something, please, anything. Why? Because it allows me to give my favourite answer - "I think that's a really good question"...Lastly, again by Halliburton - "A man is never astonished or ashamed that he does not know what another does, but he is surprised at the gross ignorance of the other in not knowing what he does,"...With love, by Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com





A Grain of Salt.😎😘

Tuesday, 20th September, 2022. After the game "Over the next curve, the next hill. Johnny Cash: "Well I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn't hurt". Not quite. Does it really matter if our team loses? Of course not. It's all about love, not too much, enough for self satisfaction. Bloody footballers get paid my yearly income every fortnight, sunning it O/S for a month or more, the Maldives archipelago? We're they robbed? It doesn't matter, it's history, like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Scott Morrison. We move on, after the nuptial 24 hour sadness, till - next year, health permitting? Better still, beating Carlton twice, ditto Melbourne and Essendon. The 2022 AFL season 'cream of the crop'. Good stuff." [All good, coming to terms with loss, but now, Tuesday, two days later? -  Even so, it hurts. 2023 an eternity away. Maybe soften the pain; cancel my Foxtel Footy subscription until next March? Why not! Or PDST?]


A National Integrity Commission is coming? Or an anti-corruption Commission, take your pick? Albo super cautious, protocol royalty before the action? The republican movement issue, heads down bums up for now. Other backlog future matters; former Robodebt minister also carpark rorter? Christian Porter's secret donor? A long list. No numero uno for Russia and China at THE funeral? Are they mates, Taiwan being the key? And the Ukraine; the more we give them the more they ask for?


I missed the funeral, watched Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957, in keeping  with the mood, very British. Class distinction, brainwashed comes to mind. King Charles III, in his first regal address, pledged to love and serve the people of Britain, no mention of Australia. We've had the funeral, a holiday come Thursday, for something, not sure what, remembrance? Give it a couple more days till (say) Monday midnight and back to fresh air come Tuesday. Let's be fair, the royalists have had much more than their day in the sun, years in fact.  My mind back to 1954, close to my 18th birthday, the Queen and the Duke? passing by, forget where, remembering the sighting. The monarchist point of view clearly evident in the Nine News, and all others including our ABC and News Limited newspapers. Albanese saving his focus on the referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament (surely before any republic conversation; do we care?) till an appropriate time. Time enough to take our turn, in that mythical sun? And Peter Dutton, missing person? And Scotty, warning children against "needless" climate anxiety'? 


The Saturday Paper, edited: Examining 2019-20 records of 19 agencies, Ombudsman Iain Anderson levels criticisms at all of them. They include obtaining invalid warrants, failing to keep records, having inadequate storage and destruction arrangements, and accessing the communications of victims of serious crime without consent and without evidence of having tried to obtain it. The parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security examined the legislation in 2020 and recommended 22 changes, including to address the absence of clear guidelines for data access and handling. The previous Coalition government never even responded to the - committee’s bipartisan report. The Australian Federal Police – among the most frequent users of the powers – attracts the highest number of criticisms. But Anderson cautions that most does not necessarily mean worst. He finds Victoria Police and Tasmania Police obtained people’s data using invalid warrants, despite warnings. The Department of Home Affairs also faces criticism, with four practice breaches identified and five more actions marked as risky. [Yes, we focus on racism in the Northern Territory and parts of Western Australia, it's convenient. Remember those Australian Federal Police raids?  Spare a thought for the bigger picture. The democratic process. That will be the day?]


"You never prove others wrong. You prove yourself right." Good stuff by Patrick Cripps. The Brownlow Medal, the chap who mysteriously escaped a 2 week suspension last two weeks of the home and away season. Respect for umpires? Disrespect more accurately. Good luck to the boy...One wonders what our old mate, Country Party born to rule Barnaby Joyce is up to these days? Special drought envoy, that $675,000 in expenses for the nine months in the role?...Oh my God, those gambling ads, apps, even during the game, and often as a sponsor on a Fox Footy interview, in between the commercials?..."The mantra to ‘‘gamble responsibly’’ is a cop-out. It is corporate spin designed to put the entire onus on the customer. It is letting a predatory industry off the hook, as if they are a mere witness at the scene of a disaster." [Faine]...The comedy of the experts? The Age, last Friday, a page on AFLW tips. Who cares?...Farewell to the number 1, Rodger the dodger Federer, sensibly listening to his body....Living in accommodation without mirrors. - "The mind of mortals, in perverseness strong, imbibes with dire docility the wrong." [Juvenis]...Keep on loving? Always, but right now, concentrating on rejecting the danger of becoming a grumbling old man?...Cliff Ellen






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’”

Tuesday 13th September. Another quick one. Cooked up the vegetables for the week, a ban on television until Friday, so a fill-in. National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds has called for smacking to be made illegal as data shows children who have seen and experienced physical abuse are more than nine times more likely to use violence in the home. No problem. I'm a great believer in 'children should be seen and not heard.' Another of walking quicker for better health? double quick, like they forced on me during my National Service stint in 1955, fresh out of spotting our (England's?) late Queen 1954. I feel guilty now for not standing during the then national anthem at our local Westgarth picture theatre. Other than that a nonsense, like my doctor suggesting I cut my daily two pots of carlton draught by two days a week, at 86 years? Then the AFL footballers suggesting more money as a result of the new billions contract. "We put on the show" he commented, ignoring the $300,000 to the lowest paid, himself to over $600,000. And our friendly AFL is a not for profit organisation? A whacky world, kids, who know everything because they have their iPhones for answers, common sense on hold? Recently we had an "R-U-OK" day; not one call, apart from half a dozen idiot begging telephone calls on my homophone. "The more they get the more they want" justified? not for the supporters? Apparently King Charles's (now at 73) school mates at Geelong Grammar, 1966, said he was 'a nice bloke'. They would wouldn't they; all those budding entitled Liberal voters? And the now; here in Danny's Victoria we have some 50,000 waiting for a house at a reasonable price; surely more important than level crossings, underground tunnels, perhaps not, but at least the thought of doing both? Come September 22nd (Holiday) I reach exactly 86 and a half. To the RSL to celebrate? "Freedom of speech is much more palatable when the opinions of others align closely with one's own". [Ed Rogers]. Not quite, more likely we settle for the general opinion - They're all crooks." Once upon a time I was big on without hope there is nothing; not quite. Now replaced by love. We need love, to love and particularly to be loved. When your daily social excursion amounts to mixing it with all types A to Z, I've found a relaxation in learning to love them all, no matter what, bullshit, politics, football, intelligence all inclusive - occasionally. So much easier. Enjoying the moments? Even so...


A breath of fresh air. Pendlebury "The McRae way is to emphasise what’s next, rather than focusing on what’s been. ‘‘He doesn’t dwell on mistakes,’’ Pendlebury explained. ‘‘If there’s stuff we’re not doing right in games, he’ll correct us, but it’s always with a positive outlook.’’ Fair enough, but surely a philosophy of life in general. Whether  it's table tennis, on stage performing a comedy, it's always been - dismiss! move on to the next opportunity. Train the  mind? And so on. 


Three years ago: At the RSL, a lady, jocular conversation, asking what I first looked at in a female. The inference, as I saw it, being men looked at the female body first and foremost; legs, bums and boobs sort of thing. 'The eyes' I responded, looking her straight between her eyes. I took the quick easy way out, all alone in the dedicated smoking area, knowing, while it's nice to be spoken too, equally nice to be pleasant in response, the reality at my age is invisibility. More likely the lady was between spins on her (poker) machine, having a quick cigarette game break as respite, maybe a memory hangover from her home life, maybe not. I don't deny it's a good question. Unusual of course, why me? Something to mull over after her evacuation, based on my thinking in years gone by. True, we all judge. Instinctively I always checked the eyes. A lot of truth there. Equally I ignored the tall traditionally attractive ladies. No point going where you don't belong, not being a footballer or famous in any way. I was never one for backsides, though I've known a few females who expressed an interest in this area with footballers. Never any interest in the size of boobs. Nowadays men (and particularly women) go to great lengths to make themselves (seemingly) more attractive; cosmetic surgery. Apart from spending to fix obvious faults one wonders why? Isn't it all about personality, a form of agreeable charm? Who's to know. Proust said you could seduce any woman if you were willing to sit and let her complain until 4 in the morning. I've never tried it, but then I've never been one to chase after a female. Still, in the interests of honesty I'll admit, the sighting of a stocking top, brown or black (not white) induced an unforced higher blood pressure, once upon a time. [Now, impotent over a decade, and a few the same at my RSL, they were the days? Not really, but anything other than Kennett's user-pays water reform.]  


The Queen and AFLW sport; definitely not my cuppa...Jack Ginnivan, Via Robbo Herald Sun and Dangerfield; guilty without evidence, power corrupts?...Truly, always prefer a Labor government than a coalition, but until Albanese does something about Julian Assange and those left rotting on Nauru, including kids, I can never quite be in his corner. Albanese: ‘‘I may not be the smoothest talker – but I promise you, I’ll always tell it straight’’. Time you did Albo. ["And so instead these last few desperate people are kept in darkness, in conditions of unimaginable anguish, with no future in front of them and a past they have already run from, who down a shaky phone line say: “I am hopeless now.”]...Will Collingwood win in Sydney? Hope so, it was Sydney who stole our Melbourne ABC. And Geelong? Haven't forgotten Geelong's Billy Brownless, congratulating Scott Morrison, then bad mouthed the loser (Billy Shorten); poor form, smirked?.. Actor, author and revered Victorian Aboriginal elder Uncle Jack Charles has died aged 79, sad, a goood man...Stay on track, keep on loving...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜˜

Thursday, 8th September, 2022: A short one. I'm opting out, yes, all said before, but this time definitive. The past 18 months a downward physical cycle, clearly, eyes, teeth, legs, appetite, energy levels. The urge to do nothing in a battle with the previous 86 years full of beans. No self pity, simply 'listening' - to my body. A new lifestyle beckons, no 3AW, Sky News, Herald-Sun, Bully Robbo, NineNews, others. The ball has dropped and I leave it there, my bad back? Maybe Facebook, instagram, stay with the two daily pots of beer, less cigarettes, meals on wheels, showers, shaves, washing and as always, books? Cheers. Even so...   


They aim to please? The AFL and the $4.5 billion deal. Good luck if your team is playing on a Saturday; the same number of matches would be shown on freeto-air TV as in the previous deal, but Foxtel will have exclusive rights to Saturday games for the first eight rounds in Melbourne. The invisible paywall. They will increase the monthly foxtel subscription thus ignoring supporters who cannot afford it, football for the rich, the viewer pays, inevitable, and despite the the ad free games, the never ending gambling ads on the other Foxtel AFL shows.  


A big week in AFL football, dominated by know-all commentators. Statistics be damned, particularly David King and Leigh Montagna. On the couch talked of how great Geelong were for an hour, won by a kick? A wonderful year from the mighty magpies. Probably should have won with De Goey's last quarter goals but no, beaten by a whisker, not happy with the tackling frees not paid. Football makes us greedy. Time perhaps to realise the disappointment of Richmond and Western Bulldogs supporters. After last year Collingwood a revelation, thankful, no matter Saturday's result. Amazing how a football match can affect our emotions, for some 50% of us? Politics on hold while they sort out the details of the Summit, minus Peter Dutton's lot. Females equality, OMG. An extra $4000 a year for pensioners assuming there's a job for you and assuming you can still work? Does this equate to filling out a tax form again, surely not? Basically no-one who earns up to $20,000 a year pays tax, other than GST. A good move for some, but better to raise the pension to a liveable rate; equity, equality and accessibility? The stage 3 tax cuts, due when? July 2024? I've changed my mind. Yes to a pre-election promise and extra for those over $200,000, but to a smaller degree a few bikkies for those on lower incomes, so why give the opposition an opportunity to attack? The vast majority of voters do not understand it all anyway. Add in the obvious error of assuming if no stage 3 tax cuts money to spend on other necessary areas; a mirage. A myopic vision; there is no replacement money! Let it ride, but go to the next election with a new tax system.  


Jason Tamiru, a proud Yorta Yorta man and director of Yalinguth Live. "The contemporary urban culture of the Fitzroy and Collingwood area has been imprinted with the actions and experiences of those that came before. The political movements, the civil rights movement that all happened in Fitzroy and Collingwood, our people were the ones that voiced that, that shaped that, that made that. It has an enormous history and our people are proud of that history,’’ Maybe. I went to school in North Fitzroy 1941-1948, knew Gertrude street like the back of my hands, school at 50+ per class, never knew or met these people, other than Lillian Nicholls, Dougie Nicholls daughter. Dougie used to tell me and mates to f##ck off when we dared to have a kick on the Northcote oval. Dougie was the caretaker, a former Fitzroy VFL champion, a pastor, soon to rise to greater heights. As for the civil rights movement in Fitzroy and Collingwood? not to my knowledge.  


The sad goodbye to Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell. Current affairs satire a cut above the rest...Nick Kyrgios will affect not to care, which is his shield and alibi, said Greg Baum, The Age. Sadly true..."Sometimes there's just no vibe" said Ross Lyon. The vibe was Essendon presuming Lyon should convince them, whereas Lyon saw it as Essendon wanting to convince him, a la Alistair Clarkson, North Melbourne...All this nonsense for skilled unskilled Labour shortages; pay a higher wage?...Can you feel it - the women are coming?...The higher the immigration numbers the less chance of a pay rise?...Shaq O’Neal (the voice) and our Indigenous Australians. You tell them big fella, adding in "vote responsibly"?...For the gullible; Have you got your dollars working for you?..."He who will not reason, is a bigot; he who cannot, is a fool; and he who dares not, is a slave." [Byron]...On the other hand? "Exert your talents and distinguish yourself, and don't think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow, whom pride, or cowardice, or laziness, drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark," [Johnson]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜‹

Tuesday, 30th August 2022: I had intended to wait until Saturday, prior to the main game, alas, the rotten weather and the week off AFL leaves the option of writing, maybe even thinking? Spring on Saturday? Purported to be Spring. We shall await the evidence after the worst Winter in my time. Saw the doctor (bronchitis, better now) and suggested I walk more. Why do they all recommend this? I measured. Opened up the day on 65 steps, maybe when picking up the iPhone and moving it from my bedroom, then around my plush 2 bedroom unit? A walk to the RSL & return @ 563 = 628. Add in another 1000 for household comings and goings, bingo @ 1628. Double for a Woolworths visit. Dearest do gooders, when you turn 86 get back to me on this walking (wanking?) necessity. And please, I heard you the 1000th time, drink more water. Thankfully nothing on the vitamins nonsense. Perhaps the fear of a Collingwood loss Saturday, a feeling of cynicism, the idea of a victory leading to a fortnight of positivity; bloody football. And bully Mark Robinson on Fox Footy, at best a pain in the bum, and despite his pro Nathan Buckley, never a Collingwood man. The sooner it's over the better. Wondering if Scotty's still into walking (on) water? Albo on the job, the unlawful Robodebt, how it happened, a Royal Commission? Scotty in the witness box, arrogant as always? (no chance), re Julia Gillard and Billy boy Shorten in Liberal times? Whatever. An enquiry into all those Scotty ministries? Waleed Aly suggested no action, simply legislate all ministerial appointments must be published. Fair point, but no, the danger of Scotty's actions need to be made public. Witch hunts are the DNA of Liberal governments, so the necessity to avoid this option, albeit reported as such by the newspapers mafia. This is the bloke who demonised those sad refugees. Mind you, a closer examination of the ministers he seconded suggests Scotty knew the quality of his Yes Ministers, but more likely he only trusted himself, again his arrogance, and his special God. 


From Fran Bailey, minister for tourism in the Howard government, via Jon Faine and almost certainly seconded by former Australia Post chief Christine Holgate and former Liberal MP Julia Banks: ‘‘It came down to a complete lack of trust. It’s not something that I have stewed over for all those 16 years, but I certainly have become very concerned as he worked his way through the ministry, and I was gobsmacked when he became prime minister. Because I knew what he was really like to work with, and I think that’s been a tragedy for the Liberal Party and it has been a tragedy for our nation.’’ [Our Scotty. Can't help wondering about his church views on respect for women? Suggested, had Fran spoken out earlier the voting public may not have elected Scotty? Disagree. Scotty was elected by way of the greedy hip pockets, dividend imputations, negative gearing mob, and as always, News Limited understanding the voters' psyche.]


How many english  television dramas have I watched the past 60 years where a play is part of the story, almost always by Shakespeare? Is it me? Do the lines relate to the story, occasionally, so why this constant? Bloody Hamlet, done to near death. Watched  around eight stage productions, slept in most. Even despite Richard Roxburgh in the big one directed by the master, Mister Armfield. No need for serepax, a definite need for valium. Serious actors (whatever that means?) worship William. A special friend now deceased, director/actor Malcolm Robertson, always for William. Thousands of conversation hours, one rule, no William talk. Spring? Gone is the Winter of our discontent, OR Ned's Such is life? 


The Saturday Paper, 27th August: Editorial excerpt: It is no longer acceptable for a vice-regal klutz to preside over the federal executive council or take responsibility for commissioning the prime minister. It is true that much of this is ceremonial but the experience of the Morrison era is that even ceremony requires oversight. Two men pretending to be competent can do a lot of damage. John Hewson excerpt: We all know bread, milk, meat and loo rolls are more expensive – everything is – but watching the opposition and certain journos try to trap Albanese on the cost of living, the huge problem that he inherited, is ridiculous. With all the power that he usurped, why didn’t Morrison and his team try to do more about inflation? They claimed consistently to be better economic managers, while letting the devastating cost-of-living problem drift, just as they did with so many other issues, including aged and disability care. Notably, these are portfolios Morrison didn’t snatch up. It is so unfortunate that this Trumpian behaviour – ignoring convention, flouting laws and standards of good governance – has become an accepted feature of political leadership. [More importantly, where is Peter Dutton? I'd suggest Peter Dutton leave the building and Simon Birmingham, now shadow minister for Foreign Affairs after a less than impressive stint by Marise Payne, take over. Perhaps Peter is into the spiolto Respimat? ]


A defining arts manifesto, I'd  like to see that. Previously the scrapping of Gillard's Creative Australia and $105 million funding loss from the Australian Council. The Age: A manifesto that will rev the economy, sharpen Australia’s soft power in the region and beyond, nail reconciliation with First Nations, repair a society fractured from COVID’s disruption, and generally reach for the stars. [Hope springs eternal. A cunning lot this newspaper, a type of balance between the good and the subtlety? of the anti-Andrews push.]


The necessity to 'wake up' to myself. School was for being there, waiting for the sound of the bell. So boring. Mr Baker grade 8, Falconer Street central school. Three times for ignoring him, six hits with a thick leather strap, the 'cuts', extra if I moved my hand during the process. Pain, bastard. Head down bum up. Arithmetic 100%, first ever. The lesson of life; fear? On the other hand, would this have helped in science, geography, trigonometry? Never in a month of Sundays. 


The skills summit problem; the rich determined to not just hold their ground, but to maintain the getting richer philosophy, the use of the word - solutions? Very funny. Good faith? Up to a point. [Optimism: A Jobs Summit with open minds, Adam Bandt? and Collingwood premiers 2022?] We wish him well.


ABC Four Corners, working-class investors duped. The sadness of the everyday Aussie and the greed factor. Some of them go so far as to have business managers? Maybe even psychologists? Lambs to the slaughter; ever thus. One chap (bunny?) $300,000, lots lots more. The question not asked - "Why didn't you invest it in a bank term deposit?"..No more sledging by our Australian cricket team. And I'm a monkey's uncle...The AFLW ladies want bigger stadiums; indubitably...Lachlan Murdoch going for Crikey's throat, like the story of Sting, the movie? You let the little one's get away they multiply?...I find it difficult to spot them, ABC Regional News, the struggling farmers?...Essendon coaching job, Ross Lyon, surely not necessary to put him through all those mysterious processes, despite the opinion of Matthew Lloyd....Virginia Bell; beyond reproach, never met one?...As for the proposed referendum on a Voice to parliament, in any survey before the ball is bounced, 'yes' but come the vote?.....Mad as Hell "A non secular life worshipping money." Close enough?...Artificial intelligence, talk me through it?...When somebody says to me 'Rest assured' I spring to attention, unassured?...The GG's diary, deliberate omissions?... Caught some of the cricket, England and South Africa. The calm, the efficiency of the callers. Maybe send our AFL callers for lessons?...The AFL 19th team, Tasmania? Make it 20, and after season one the bottom 10 to a second level with promotion and loss per the top bottom teams each year. 18 games a season play each other twice. No? Too fair? OK, then no 19th team, bugger Tasmania...Comedy: Free-to-air broadcasting (AFL) for an egalitarian? society?...Was 'Book Week' a success? Hopefully, better than a kick up their backsides....Imagination: "The beings of the mind are not of clay; essentially immortal, they create, and multiply on us a brighter ray, and more beloved existence." [Byron]...Go Pies?...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜₯😎

Thursday, 25th August, 2022: AFL: Had bronchitis for days, in frustration I write, supposedly good for my oxygen levels. Wasn't it Jack Nicholson in the movie "As Good as it Gets". Maybe for Jack. Not a lot of pleasure knowing this is the best I'll feel...or look? A slight chance? I said weeks ago - 15 more wins, so what? 3 to go?  Ah so, the AFL football finals are upon us. The Bounce, Fox Footy, hosted by Jason Dunstall (a football commentator better than most) is far and wide the worst show on television. Former champion basketballer Andrew Gaze laughs at everything Andrew utters, none of which are funny, Ben Dixon almost as bad and goodness only knows why Cameron Mooney is there? Usually a Sunday night before First Crack and running 20 minutes over, forcing suffering of this rubbish, including a vague (desperate?) quiz show, before the good stuff. Save the comedy for the real comics. Fox Sports also have another show sprouting as live entertainment on their super Saturdays featuring J.Brown, N.Buckley and N.Riewoldt, football yes, comedy no. OK, sport appeals to a section of the masses, but is this sport? On the other hand not being 100% (50%?) tends to cynicism, correct?


Was Ben Rutten ever given a chance? Was Mark Robinson losing his self important patience? The current crop of AFL commentators (experts?) heaped in bias and that sense of self importance (power?) far beyond the norm. Statistics is their guide, the obvious implication, without which, nothing more to say? Other than his Brisbane Lions what would Jonathan Brown talk about, despite his gift of the gab being up there with Leigh Montagna and Eddie McGuire? The opening stanza after the bounce of the ball Collingwood/Carlton - "A good bounce!"? Bad enough with their instructions to talk up a game no matter what we see, but worse to come from the likes of Robinson and the other experts via Footy Classified (Caroline) and the jokers pack on The Sunday Footy Show; on Nine. We are thankful for the writing skills of Greg Baum from The Age, a diamond in the rough. Again with the footballers on comedy? Where are the Lou Richards, Jack Dyer and Bobby Davis? Would De Goey or Toby Greene have got off had they done what Patrick Cripps did? Not in a month of Sundays. Worse still, we all know that. Nothing against Cripps, everything against this power clique, AFL included. IF Alistair Clarkson has the same result as Rutten after two years will they call for his head? Politics and football, littered with drongos. Are umpires biassed? Obviously, as always a question of degree, more to the point, who has the power? More umpires needed? God help us. Finally, the All Australian side, a great mix. A pity they buggered it up by picking Steven May at full back, anyone but this poser.   


It's surely no surprise John Howard came forth in favour of no action on Morrison, his reason being the danger of a by-election to Dutton's party or the NSW election early 2023. Barnaby Joyce (surely a partner to Scotty in devious tactics for self gain ahead of responsibilities?) equally unapologetic chasing higher representation in cabinet as his main objective. Good government a long last? As for the 'rusted' - "Pork-barrelling is never OK but are critics of the Coalition really suggesting that Labor has not, or will not, try to buy votes before an election? Seriously?" Yes, there's a vague point there, but at best a shaky excuse. Easy to say "they're all crooks" harder still to try 'thinking' for once in a lifetime? Whichever way it goes, does Scotty still have his 'leak' line to the Murdoch press? Nothing so far. Governor-General David Hurley (a plant?) claimed innocence, either untrue or one very dopey GG? An independent probe yes, but better to leave Goldstein MP Zoe Daniel out of the equation, ditto Shadow assistant treasurer Stuart Robert. Concentrate on Scotty's former staff? We miss Clarke and Dawe. On state politics Matthew Guy has half a chance, particularly with voters without memories, particularly those 85% of voters who do not believe in Unions on principle, although I've yet to find anyone who can explain the meaning of their principle? Spending billions to upgrade our health system. Better chance winning powerball but nothing is impossible. After all, they voted in Henry Bolte once upon a time, not to mention Cripps getting off.


Mornington Peninsula: Caring for the aged? Attack is the best method of defence? According to Cr Steve Holland "A lot of it is drummed up by activists that clearly have an axe to grind. Why they direct their anger at the shire I really don't know." Then adding "It's about ensuring there is a review into why the federal government has utterly bungled the transfer." Straight out of the Liberal Party's bible? Sorry Steve, you are talking nonsense. We are honest ageing residents bearing the brunt of your (our) council decision to rid yourselves of our needs. Building castles? You saw an opportunity and embraced it, unlike almost all other councils. Your double talk does not alter the obvious conclusions. Activists indeed? If anyone can be labelled activists I would suggest you and your council power group.  


Inflation and the need for wage deals staying above the worker's quicksand, headed by the ACTU's Sally McManus, her voice from the wilderness. The ACTU came close to an agreement on workplace reform with the Business Council of Australia at the height of the pandemic two years ago but the deal was blocked by the Master Builders Association and others who thought it gave too much power to the unions. The skills summit, a gutsy lady. We wish her well, despite the fools she's fighting for.        


I watch them at the RSL, smoking area, young, 20's 30's so slick. "Google it" they say, for an answer. Can't help wondering, no google, no brain?...If you're reading anything written by Chris Uhlmann or listening to him on Nine News better to stop for a cup of green tea...Julian Assange. Anthony Albanese's spirit of politics would be one of inclusiveness and compassion; gone missing?...Cut the stage 3 tax cuts. Obviously. Bugger you Jack, I'm ok?...Refugees skills can they be found in all those who came by sea, already here in Australia?...The middle-class do-gooders, now deciding all sledging issues, on or off field, really daahlings?...Real comedy? The restriction of smoking and vaping in the Melbourne CBD while all the petrol/diesal trucks storm through the streets almost unabated?...Tony Abbott's witch hunt on Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten was political. A witch hunt on Scott Morrison is for  the principles of democracy?...Nice one from Linda Fisher, prioritising work and family commitments to attend Cinema Nova on Mondays...I keep hearing it, Radio, television, Facebook - "Down loaded now, from the apps store" Bugger off...."A man is neither astonished or ashamed that he doesn't know what another does, but he is surprised at the gross ignorance of the other in not knowing what he does." [Haliburton]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜˜

Saturday, 20th August, 2022: As Eddie McGuire would say "It's been a big week." Integrity and transparency, or the coercive controller, the secret grab for control? What value democracy? None of it surprises, more a fascination how the rusted on Liberal's will see it in a positive light?  One assumes, to see it as Scotty himself said - 40,000 lives saved? If the Labor victory at the last election showed us anything, it now becomes clear how close we came to a dangerous man (Morrison) running the show. It wasn't enough he disregarded the public service, he wanted all ministerial powers to boot? The glaring point is he didn't even trust his own ministers? God is good, or is God a comedian? So much for a clever Peter Dutton, fooled, as in the previous PM, Malcolm Turnbull. From Jacqueline Maley: "Morrison was as Morrison always was: brittle, tricky, defensive and repellent of personal responsibility. No apology and no admission of error, let alone wrongdoing." Enough to make me feel sorry for the man, not. And to rub salt into our wounds the ABC'S 7.30 trots out the ageing John Howard to laugh it all off? Up pops Chris Ullmann, Costello's man, and/or 3AW's Neil Mitchell, a soft approach, bordering on justification, both quickly switching to Matthew Guy's latest gimmick of $17 extra billion for health and scrapping the rail tunnel project. We surely recall Matthew's last time as Premier? Finally the Alistair Clarkson nightly fiasco, another God? to transform any team, no matter the playing list, at last to North Melbourne, not forgetting the failure of the Mornington Peninsula shire's lack of responsibility (privatisation?) to older residents. Phew!  


The Saturday Paper, editorial edited: "You might as well ask why a monkey steals a nut, why a scorpion stings a frog. It is their nature. Morrison is confusing not because he is complex but the opposite. We cannot fathom how a man of his plodding inconsequence could have wielded such power and done nothing with it. The answer will never be satisfying, because there is not enough person in Morrison to make it satisfying. He just is." From Richard Flanagan, The Age: "All this brings into focus the need to bring some codified checks and balances on the powers of the prime minister, which clearly cannot be contained by existing conventions. The same applies to codifying the powers of the governor-general." [Enough!]


Kevin Rudd: An ongoing party rectification campaign reminds the Chinese that the courts exist to serve the party, including in commercial disputes?...AFL: After the stress of 11 victories (Collingwood) there came an aura of certainty in losing last week to Sydney, no stress, fascinating. And now (with Carlton) tomorrow, a new found calm. Win or lose so be it, the old hate Carlton long gone. After 2021 it's been a feast, no matter what, and the likelihood of winning against Geelong or Melbourne in a final far fetched. Well done Craig McCrae, particularly after all those years of Nathan Buckley...Fundamentalism; what is it?......Criticism: "In words as fashions, the same Rule will hold; alike Fantastick, if too new or old; be not the first by whom the new are try'd, nor not the last to lay the old aside. [Pope]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ€”

Saturday, 13th August, 2022: And so some 110 previously employed by the Mornington Peninsula Council have been made redundant. Elderly people are left in the lurch, ignoring matters social, physical and mental health. No-one for floors, toilet and bathroom, the 1 hour a fortnight.  I'm hoping the smoke alarm is working, no Council handyperson to call. A letter from privatised Mecwacare tells of staff shortages and prioritised essential services. Apparently I must be patient. They will call me but "it may take some time." May the elected representatives and bureaucrats responsible rot in hell? A two-tier society, you'd better believe it! 


USA: Donald Trump, 11 sets of classified documents some marked top secret. A witch hunt? In my day 1950's I was classified to top secret. A nonsense. The weekend visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the resultant backlash. Surely a good time for Albanese to make a case for bringing our man Julian Assange home? On Taiwan, Penny Wong said it was “essential for regional stability that the temperature is lowered, and calm is restored. Pelosi’s visit was a matter for the United States and certainly did not endorse it." Peter Dutton praised Pelosi saying “of course” she should have gone and likened it to her visiting Tokyo or any other city in Asia. He said Beijing’s reaction was over the top. While that is true, the opposition leader surely can’t be this oblivious to her stated purpose of showing solidarity with Taiwan against Beijing. Even US President Joe Biden is on record as preferring that she didn’t go. Meanwhile, considering we can do nothing about it, we move it to the "Worry when it's time to worry" basket, and go for a cappuccino. 


You decide? The cost of negative gearing tax concessions is set to soar as interest rates rise, meaning Australian taxpayers could spend billions of dollars to offset private landlords’ lost income in coming years, so experts say. Abolishing the contentious tax policy is one of the fairest and least economically damaging ways to help repair the public budget, obviously. A property is negatively geared when the cost of interest and expenses linked to owning a rental is more than the income it generates each year. Landlords can claim this cost as a tax deduction. Negative gearing cost taxpayers more than $9 billion in 2007-08 thanks to high mortgage rates. That cost fell to $166.5 million in 2019-20, the smallest amount in two decades, the latest figures estimated to cost taxpayers some $7 billion. The bottom line?, rental accommodation dwindles; greedy bastards. Nearly one in five owns a rental property, and more than half of investment property owners enjoy tax breaks from negative gearing. It’s those 1.2 million Australians whose property investments are being subsidised by taxpayers and 90,000 of those benefiting from negative gearing tax breaks own three or more rental properties. Of the 60 Australians revealed in the latest ATO data who are earning more than $1 million a year are paying no net tax. [The Hayne banking royal commission identified a culture of greed whereby banks gave priority to maximising shareholder value at the expense of the interests of their clients, employees and the broader Australian community.] 


AFL football and pay TV: Assuming Foxtel is successful in gaining more power to view "only on Foxtel" we can assume an increase in monthly access, also known as the takeover of our rights to watch on free to air. Again, the two-tier society. If successful the question of affordability, more to the point the so called "comedy" of footballers becoming entertainers" Bounce and Best on Ground? Triple yawns? Worse still, those ex footballers really believe they are funny?  


John Hewson, The Saturday Paper: The ABC has been subjected to a sustained barrage from the Murdoch media, both its print and TV journalists, who are seemingly obsessed on behalf of their employer with forcing the government’s hand to further cut the public broadcaster’s funding, or even maybe to privatise it. They attempt to expose bias in contravention of the ABC’s charter. If there ever were a case of the pot calling the kettle black this would be it, given the extraordinary campaign the Murdoch media ran in support of the Morrison government and the unsubstantiated attacks on the Labor leader in the last election campaign. [And so it goes, ad infinitum.] [ABC presenter Fran Kelly will host a new Friday night ABC TV chat show later this year, her first permanent gig since departing Radio National’s flagship news and current affairs program, Breakfast, in December. Frankly will be filmed in front of a live audience with a house rock band and feature ‘‘frank yet fun’’ conversations with international and home-grown actors, musicians, comedians, big thinkers and change-makers. It's the "big thinkers" and "change-makers" I find intriguing?] 


The AFL: "The health and safety of our players at an elite and community level is of paramount importance and that priority will continue to inform the AFL’s ongoing work in taking action where health and safety is impacted or at risk.’’ Patrick Cripps got off, yet again not unexpected. It's who you know?


We feel for Costello's Nine News. Two months of getting stuck into Danny Andrews front and centre alongside (later in the hour) a soft interview with friendly reasonable opposition leader Matthew Guy, now a possible train wreck re Catlin asking billionaire Liberal donor Jonathan Munz to pay more than $100,000?...Footsteps? Hugh White in the Quarterly Essay ‘‘Sleepwalk to War, Australia’s Unthinking Alliance with America’’...Privatisation is simply another work for moola...No offence intended towards champion ex AFL footballer Eddie Betts but he sure took his time (4 years) in telling us about his involvement in that infamous pre-season camp...President Joe Biden (our saviour?) said the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan. Maybe sell up and move to a Greek Island?...Council rates yes, council services, crooks...‘‘Warning over proposed sex consent law change’’ Double talk. What constitutes consent? No or yes, the rest is nonsense...For profit or human services, that is the question. For the answer, consult the Mornington Peninsula Shire...Sadly, for we Collingwood supporters, and happily for the supporters of the other 17 teams, the bubble is about to burst, tomorrow, against Sydney..."It is instinct in our nature to follow the tract pointed out by a few leaders; we are gregarious animals in a moral as well as a physical sense, and we are addicted to routine, because it is always easier to follow the opinions of others, than to reason and judge for ourselves." [Paris]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.

Saturday 6th August, 2022:  If your child at any age does damage to others you apologise, but you do not leave it at that. You surely must take action to discipline the child, to the best of your ability, one way or another. True, the one thing Danny Andrews has going for him is his leader of the Opposition, namely Matthew Guy, sneakier than the worst of the Andrews clan, but no excuse to simply apologise. He needs to act, or as Hawthorn's John Kennedy once said "Don't think, DO!" Federally Albanese blames the incompetent Morrison government, irredeemably superficial? as someone suggested, but in the same sense the need for action to fix the various promises, made more difficult by the pandemic and obviously Russia's invasion. Aside from his promises the various RORTS is a good way to begin the changes. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says this question is to be put to all Australians in a referendum: ‘‘Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’’ Yes, eventually, hopefully sooner than the next election. Meantime a host of other Ministers, public servants, for action to free Julian Assange, an increase in JobSeeker, rent assistance and axe support for the stage 3 tax cuts? A change to a fixed 4 years term election cycle and  negative gearing are matters considering if re-elected, very much a possibility with Peter Dutton as leader of the Liberal Party, raving on about "forgotten people" and ignoring climate change. Ethics and equity or the usual self righteous indignation? Looking forward to the arrival of our nuclear submarines to replace the collins class. True, I'll be 104 years old, but better late than...? Apparently at a cost of billions, seemingly, as I see it, not unlike yours truly paying for a bodyguard to travel to China. An American bodyguard?


It all began with the AFL's direction for respect for umpires. As always they did not think it through and quickly pulled it back to a reasonable level, albeit a consistency level remaining confusing to most of us. Along came Jack Ginnivan and the so called playing for free kicks; again the AFL direction change, to a higher level of confusing consistency and the increased danger of head high tackles. As it happens there never was respect for the AFL. Now, as respect for umpires has crashed to disrespect, one wonders as to their next move? The better news, last night's Melbourne Collingwood clash reduced the disrespect?

Folly consists in the drawing of false conclusions from just principles, by which it is distinguished from madness, which draws just conclusions from false principles. [Loche]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.





A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Saturday, 23rd July, 2022. Social media, Nyadol Nyuon, The Saturday Paper: Peter Dutton sets out the problem of civility in public debate and how he intends to address it. Dutton claims social media and the impact it has on civil debate and discussion is a public policy issue that needs to be addressed. Dutton is not alone in framing social media as the problem. The powerful and those disproportionately privileged by the status quo have a problem with social media. Rupert Murdoch decries it. He claims social media rigidly enforces “conformity” and is “a straitjacket on sensibilities”. Murdoch claims social media and “woke orthodoxy” are suppressing freedom of speech. Whose sensibilities are straitjacketed by social media? Why should any person’s or group’s sensibilities enjoy special protection? Why isn’t Murdoch’s concept of free speech inclusive of “woke speech”? After all, Murdoch media and conservatives often demand that racial and other minorities live with racist speech, hate speech, homophobic speech, sexist speech and climate-denialism speech in the services of their version of free speech and in protection of their sensibilities. Why should “woke” speech be cancelled and their speech protected? As a bargain, this is not remotely fair. It is not intended to be. What it is, is an attempt to exercise power over who can speak. [Ditto the continued attacks on "our" ABC.]


Letters, Carmelo Bazzano: The prosecution of Bernard Collaery may have come to an end but the damage lingers. The charade of a politicised kangaroo court justified on national security concerns is a slap in the face to Australians. From the outset, senior government officials who approved of the illegal spying to steal from our war-torn neighbour, Timor-Leste, for their corporate masters, should hang their heads in shame for such wrongdoing. They will be well advised to revisit the contribution the Timorese people made in supporting our troops against the expanding Japanese army during World War II. Richard Boyle, a former Australian Taxation Office employee, and David McBride, who blew the whistle on potential war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan remain on trial alongside the world’s most prominent whistleblower, Julian Assange. Their prosecutions must come to an end. Whistleblowers exist because government secrets exist. If we value our democracy to function with credibility, whistleblower protection must be enshrined in law. 


Friday July 22nd, 2022. It didn't take long. Already the Coalition and Greens siding to oppose Labor, federally and in Victoria. This Pandemic was reason enough to return to COVID leave payments, and squash off the table, the stage 3 tax cuts, surely? Same old same old; The Greens prepared to vote down a bill proposed by the Labor government to enshrine a minimum target of 43 per cent reduction of carbon emissions. Three senate seats and they become the opposition, alongside the no policies personality changing? Peter Dutton? We await the return of parliament, fireworks guaranteed, or a steely Albanese despite travel exhaustion. Masks now a personal responsibility, common sense? prevailing. All about the November Victorian state election, squarely at get Danny Andrews, IBAC. But Matthew Guy? Respect for umpires is all well and good, but how to respect them for their treatment of Toby Green and Ginnivan? Big Brother (the AFL) is watching, controlling? The bias against Collingwood’s Jack Ginnivan has come to a close, seemingly? expecting nothing from Robbo (AFL360), the talkative Leigh Montagna (First Crack) and the creative Sam McClure (Footy Classified). The bully, the boring and the dipstick. Scott Pendlebury, Nathan Buckley or Dane Swan? I'm for Swanny, before that Bobby Rose, now Steele Sidebottom, recognising Pendles is a champion; 350, well done. We have heroes in Australia, the delightful high jumper, the swimmers, golfer Cameron Smith, all subject to change if we do not approve of any of their future decisions? Dear Albo, if there is a difference, as you tell us, best show real courage with action on the freedom of Julian Assange? True, President Joe Biden has mild Covid, fatigue and a runny nose, but I have that every morning? Julie Szego, The Age, recommends national service for teenagers; great idea. Ex PM Scott Morrison's Pentecostal church sermon surprised many. Why? We knew he could not be trusted? Arrogance and entitlement to the backline. Stop the tax reductions, remove negative gearing and tax imputations, thus giving under 30's half a chance for a new home? Is something rotten in the state of Denmark? The good news is my old mates, the Commonwealth public service, is back in business, time will tell. Meantime, keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.




A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜Ž

Thursday 14th July, 2022. It's surely hard to believe, isn't it? Here we have a foreign minister whose been in the job 10 minutes and has already (seemingly?) spent more times overseas than our previous foreign minister in 6 years? Add in our deputy PM, in the USA, and the PM, after his own overseas jaunts, running around in flooded waters giving handouts. As Bill Lawry would say - "It's all happening!". And not a word on our friend Assange in an English jail, albeit behind the scenes whispers? Locally things are hotting up on the get Danny Andrews push, News Corp and Nine's Costello, The Age, Neil Mitchell. Have you had a phone call yet? One would think he's a shoe-in, but not forgetting previous donkey voters dating back to hanging Premier Henry Bolte to our present opposition leader previously into high end property deals when he was last our Premier. On the other hand we earthlings have always been insignificant, a passing phase visit at best. Sadly this new telescope has magnified our temporary status, 13 billion light years away, as in before me? Any chance of seeing 13 billion years ahead? Nothing is permanent, including a double brick house. The death toll increases; should we follow health advice, not necessarily, context, context and so on. A nuanced approach, or depending which way you're coming from? Either which way, which side, hypocrisy rules the waves, more accurately verbal  tsunami? I particularly enjoy politicians saying "I think Victorians want this.", how do they know?...Neil Mitchell and mask restrictions on/off. Make up your mind lover boy?...Great to see Albo abandoning the Bernard Collaery involving Witness K matter. Now we can return to our disgust on the Chinese secret trials?...Bunnings $2.50 to $3.50 price gouging, no matter the cause; face recognition no problem, last there 2004...If a Sidebottom married a Longbottom would a surname change be wise?...North Melbourne sacked David Noble. Suspect the fault lies with the club rather than David Noble....The Greens, Gods gift to disruption...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.




Monday 11th July, 2022. Trying times for many with natural disasters, tragic floods, bushfires, flu, requiring federal, state and people assistance. On the one hand uplifting motivations and the other the ugly perception of COVID succeeding in making more and more people not only greedier (short stays, housing rentals, Councils offloading to privatisation) but even more entitled. It's no wonder my mind goes stale more often, the need to fight off restlessness, boredom and the sadness of impotence. Senile? not yet anyway. The need for good news far more important. The desperation of the Opposition government; Albanese ignoring flood victims? nonsense. Politics more important than reality? Maybe a song - "Desperation Blues". Yes it's cold, mornings, (3 degrees, feels like zero?) but irrelevant in fact. It appears, from watching the rather ugly Nine News so many people seeking escape during school holidays, particularly ex Victoria, seemingly, again the hemmed in feeling of COVID? Masks or no masks, the risk factor to the backline, anti-viral treatments a necessity. Another magpie victory helps, no votes for Sidebottom strange, apparently all about statistics, winning the game doesn't count? Not to worry. Moving on...


Sean Kelly, The Age: Already, the government is being asked to do more in such areas: to propose a stronger federal ICAC, to intervene in other arguable cases of injustice. Inevitably, it will be frustrated: why, politicians always ask, am I punished for doing more than my opponents ever did? The answer is that raising standards always raises expectations further. That rarely helps the politicians who do it. They should do it anyway.


The AFL needs a team called Tasmania, a stand alone team. It's the right thing to do...Seven wins on end and still no kind words from Leigh Montagna?...I preference movies and television from England, and of the foreign variety from Denmark and France, barring heroes with beards, always an exception...How is a men only Athenaeum Club different from a women only club? Who would want to join either?...Surely Albo's trips overseas were created by Schomo's ignorance?...Recalling when asked a question you had no answer for - "Search me."...keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.





A Grain of Salt. 2022.😎

Monday 4th July, 2022. The more they get the more they want. Human nature, a fact of life. Exceptions? Not to my limited knowledge. Federal summary, from various writers, edited: In its first month Labor has been busy picking low-hanging fruit. The Nadesalingam family to return to Biloela on bridging visas, after the Coalition spent $6 million trying to deport them. Penny Wong visited the Pacific three times, shifting it to the centre of our foreign policy in response to China’s growing influence. When the news broke the Solomon Islands government was about to sign a security pact with China, it was Zed Seselja, then minister for the Pacific, who hopped on a plane. Labor is also moving swiftly to legislate for a federal integrity commission. The government is talking to China again, albeit his latest Chinese rhetoric, and the thinly veiled Chinese response, a concern. It has promised to implement all 55 recommendations of the Respectβ€Š@β€ŠWork report. Anthony Albanese, will live at The Lodge in Canberra rather than in a Sydney Harbour mansion. Will the Liberal Party respond to legislation for a federal integrity commission promised for later this year? Will it support the commission to avoid strengthening the hold of the teal independents in their inner-urban seats? Or is it afraid of what the commission may turn up, given that it is likely to have retrospective powers? Morrison's lot; Robo-debt, the purchase of land in the Leppington Triangle for 10 times its market value, the sports rorts and the electorally disastrous car park affairs, together with other grants suspected of being influenced by political considerations, and when Scott Morrison first knew of Brittany Higgins’ allegation that she had been raped in Parliament House and what steps, if any, were taken to hush it up? Will it seek to build bipartisan consensus for the Voice to Parliament sought in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, or seek brand differentiation by pretending the voice will be a third chamber? Will it support a strengthening of laws designed to prevent sexual harassment at work? The Albanese government consolidated its international relations edge over an enfeebled opposition in a series of high-level meetings in Europe. On top of his brief and with an easy confidence, Albanese – together with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles – has credibly put Australia back in the international relations game. The projection of seriousness and substance on international relations and national security has been achieved without relying on macho language or imagery. This is likely a revelation to Coalition MPs who’ve existed for years on picture opportunities with tanks and torpedoes, and loose, inflammatory war talk. Albanese has a different kind of reset to consider: one with crossbench MPs enraged by his unilateral decision to cut their staff numbers before he got on the plane to Europe, rebalancing the large number of additional staff Morrison awarded to crossbench MPs as his government slid into minority status back towards something more realistic relative to the staff entitlements of other MPs. For community independents it means a cut from the additional four staff Morrison gave them to just one – this in addition to the standard four electorate staff every MP gets. Deep public divisions between Labor and community independents, who took crucial seats off the Liberals, is a delight for the Coalition, and the obvious needs? of some independents to build castles. And while Labor has formed a majority government, it’s by only two seats. They might not need the teals in the house of representatives now but they might in the future. Why make their first substantive experience of the Albanese government such a bad one? For their part, the community independents have reflected and mostly had some insight into the fact that they, like the government, could’ve handled things better. Not all? Cali Steggall came across as obnoxiously entitled. Finally, still no word on Julian Assange. Time for Albo to tell us, one way or the other? Local, Victoria: The latest is Matthew Guy's lot strengthening the call for independents to run in Labor held seats, no doubt highlighted (in addition to continuing "soft" interviews via the Herald Sun and the Nine nightly news) and anything likely to blame Daniel Andrews. Add in the retirement of four Andrews government senior ministers. Expected to increase now only 4 months away from the state election. The health system, ambulances, fireman, police. Et alia? 


A sixth win on end for Collingwood and a likely seventh against North Melbourne next week. An ugly victory not worthy of a replay, as a magpie fan. The Gold Coast Suns have some talented players, hampered to some extent with their concentration on niggling tactics. One wonders if a coaching change could make the difference? Kane Cornes, yet again into his ME TOO act on a Jordan De Goey dropped mark ("He could have cost them the game"). Yes, and another 50 mistakes both sides.  A lucky victory at best. Interesting: David King suggested the Gold Coast Suns were robbed; umpiring decisions. Not in the history of this television commentator has he suggested Collingwood was robbed. It is what it is. Take us through it. Following on. Et alia? 


Robbie Williams for the grand final. Time for a cup of tea and biscuits?...Nick Kyrgios, lippy yes, but why the press holier than thou,?... Patricia Karvelas, a star, on Insiders...Sadly unable to use Covid deductions as a tax claim. Apparently one must first pay tax?... Yet another new omicron Covid variant, talk of a fourth needle, and the USA stepping up its response to the Russian invasion. Our distance protection, the past 86 years, dangerously dwindling...The ME TOO people keep shoving their unwanted faces into MY lounge room, presently Derryn Hinch, Lisa Wilkinson, Kane Cornes, Matt Canavan and Steve Quartermain. ...Farewell to Neighbours, but thankfully Rawhide remains...Farewell to Leigh Sales, nice enough, but not a big fan...So much for independent umpires. Carlton v St Kilda 21:9?...Moreland isn't Moreland anymore. Idiots?..... Why do I watch The Front Bar - for Sam Pang of course....From the diaphragm kids, keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.




A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ€”

Monday 27th June, 2022. Meanderings, Mondays. I watched Robin Hood on television starring (so called) Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, purporting to be actors, fortunately not the director's cut, shudder. For a while there I thought he had jumped across from his Gladiator set in his meal break, two millionaire kids from Sydney having fun. Another fairy tale reminding of the reality of the Ukraine and Russia, wars and killings, forever. I snapped out of it, paused, a cup of green tea with honey, thought about the sadness of the rejection of negative gearing and eventually switched, missing the ending (likely Russell and Cate in a cuddle scene) to the serious stuff on AFL football. Why Not! We can enjoy these little pluses in life despite the freezing weather and the increasing ailments of old age, namely Craig McRae and Albo Albanese. The serene difference from Nathan Buckley and our previous PM, whose name escapes me. Labor should never have lost the last election, and property prices would have been realistic. Beliefs, memories and emotions, always worth examining. I've been going back over old ground, again? not unusual. Reasons front and centre, time does not heal old wounds, or not? Obviously 100% biassed, Collingwood supporter with my first breath, either that or the wrath of my wonderful mother, she with her rules of steel, particularly home for tea (never dinner, dinner was lunch) by 6pm. "That's not fair" said I. "Neither is Joe Louis's backside" Mum would reply. Mum was a gambler. I lent her £5 once. Six months later I stupidly asked for it back, bad mistake. No more decisions for me. I was a tagalong type, for life. Out for dinner, food? you decide darling. Ask me to go somewhere, apart from brothels, drag races, AFL matches and anything after 8pm and I'm with you, well, once upon a time. Currently I prop, other than my daily 2 pots and twice weekly Woolworths trying unsuccessfully to ignore the price rises, crooks in disguise. I did the accountancy course years ago because a mate hounded me for company? Good fun during classes. A few dickheads who later became high earners, mysteriously. It wiled away three years while marriage and the kids were growing, helped along by a few ales before classes. Then the lull, until another mate hounded me to join him for drama classes. He's surely kidding. Actors? Who the hell are they, not to mention a secret love for the lead female during our school play and eventually realising she was a he. Embarrassing, why? Actors, worse than the bloody accounting nerds. Serious types, arty farty, but unlike those classes at CBC North Melbourne, fun, and thankfully most of them were Labor voters. The first year of nonsense, improvisations? then it grew on me. I'm trying to find some past decision attributed to myself? I did some 37 years at racetracks for totalisator companies, a result of my wife's parents setting me up (without asking?) for part time work, part of what I referred to in my previous blog, namely "something will turn up"? Sometimes it does, even now. Lets be honest, or for accuracy my honesty, my biassed reasons. The past nine years, politically, has produced powerful crooks, will it never end sort of thing, then along pops Albo, clear air returns despite the high cost of everything and the built in factor of the rich getting richer (opposing higher wages and previously climate policy and mining taxes) and more importantly a clear understanding of the need for coming to terms with our relations with China after the pathetic Morrison approach. Morrison's grandstanding call for an international enquiry as to the cause of COVID? Differences yes, brick wall attitude never. Will Albo's popularity last, who knows? And Collingwood, at long last. has a real coach, amazing. Then those little problems along the way. That previous blog and my newspaper jobs. I got the sack due to (by accusation) shortchanging my takings. Three months later discovered it was the chap running all the newspaper boys. Grade 4 accused of cheating, my answers the same as the class swot. Wrong again, the swot copied my answers. Why me? Does it matter? Not a bit of it. A day at a time never more true than today, and yesterday another magpie victory. A long day ahead, blank, lonely? Nah. Maybe a shower and shave, lunch, a nap, two pots? Woolworths tomorrow, maybe. And so it goes, moving on...  


Sadly the Nine Entertainment monster (Costello's journalists, led by ensconced Liberal supporter, Political Editor Chris Uhlmann ) and the Murdoch Media is still with us, pecking away night and day, seemingly unhurt by the disgraceful support of Morrison leading up to the last election. Best to ignore, as it's unlikely to produce anything other than vain attempts to prove their previous bought opinions as prostitutes. A constructive opposition under Peter Dutton (despite his pathetic gestapo record, particularly anti Melbourne), nothing to see presently, particularly with Albanese flying, but willing to give peerless Peter a 3 months trial. We need a good opposition. We do not need negativity for the sake of it. The energy crisis, the economy, the possibility of a recession, all presently on the mirage table. [From Kevin Rudd: "The challenge for Prime Minister Albanese and his team is that growing pains are inevitable, especially after a long period of lethargic, incompetent and frankly corrupt governance that has degraded the public service and many of our other public institutions. The new government’s enemies – led by Murdoch and his Coalition partner Peter Dutton – will seize on any opportunity to manufacture the appearance of chaos, disunity and dysfunction."]  And the Greens? Never forget the Greens voted with the Coalition in 2009 to reject the Rudd government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme. We briefly enjoy the lull, and await the independents contribution, and Princess Pauline Hanson?   


The De Goey business was a beat up of course, heaped upon by non Collingwood supporters, bless them, and idiot ex footballers posing as football come behavioural experts, Kane Cornes, ego on show. AFL training modules in the fight against disrespect for women? Hypocrisy of tap, community standards, AFL commentators. Disrespect to women is almost as funny as gambling responsibly? Teacup storms? Comedy, kids having fun, with a dash of truth; Quaynor and Ginnivan. A degree of "Disrespectful to women?" has been going on since Adam, ditto females to males. "Neighbours" 2003. AFL night match, green room, young ladies assessments, male backsides. Funny. The stupidity factor? being taped? The AFL and gambling - perhaps disrespectful to all of us? Business leaders and increased profits, decrying the lowest wage increase, job losses, the economic costs, disrespectful? Melbourne university surplus $147 million, after 378 staff took redundancy or were made involuntarily redundant, disrespectful? Channel 10, objecting to the media attention following Lisa Wilkinson's Logies speech? hypocritical? Respect and responsibility cannot be easy for AFL male footballers, from what I'm told admirers, mostly blondes, all ages, on tap. A lower resistance level? Footballers as role models, harking back to Mopsy Fraser Richmond  when he cleaned up the three Twomey boys for Collingwood, or the little St Kilda hit man who destroyed the career of one of the best footballers I've ever seen, namely John Greening. We Collingwood supporters are accustomed to the various differences come attitude from the  experts particularly with on field reports and depending on which teams and players they consider to be favourites and who they support. Brayden Maynard, two weeks for a practice match and so on. A dozen questionable opinions every season. So be it. 


A super profits tax on businesses. OMG. Heaven forbid!...The USA crazies, guns, abortion. Sad stuff...Letters: Alan Joyce has trashed the Qantas brand, sent the flying kangaroo to the financial meat-packers, and become fabulously wealthy in the process...Melbourne, 10th most liveability city, for whom, the rich? Vienna number 1 no surprise. Last time I went one very expensive city...Buy now pay later, and while accessing, consider getting a brain scan?...And Julian Assange, it's time Albo, ditto the refugees on Nauru; negative gearing 2025?..."Good nature is the beauty of the mind, and, like personal beauty, wins almost without anything else, sometimes, indeed, in spite of positive deficiencies," [Hanway]..Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜€πŸ˜Ž

Monday 20th June, 2022. Yes, I said I'd take a break, back on July 3rd, but I couldn't wait, the super cold weather, cash shortage, no chance of escape to Bali. Home alone, save an hour a fortnight from the council cleaning lady. An hour a day to the RSL for two pots of beer, it's all happening? I didn't watch the TV Logie Awards, unaware of the existence of gold Logie winner Hamish Blake? but lucky enough to briefly change channels during a commercial break from the wonderful SBS movie "Leon: the professional" and fortunately caught a brilliant speech from Bruce McAvaney as the Hall of Fame winner. And then there's Jordan De Goey's quickie visit to Bali, heavily criticised, again? without proof by self righteous expert Kane Cornes, ditto inclusion consultant Rana Hussain, based, seemingly, on statistics; one in two women have experienced sexual harassment and one in five sexual assault. Work that one out? Nothing from Caroline Wilson yet but certain to approve those two. Good people are hard to come by, many times thrown away like lolly paper. Common sense is forever under challenge and hypocrisy; social media yes but heavily supported by News Limited and Costello' prostitute's, running wild. We wonder why Collingwood supporters are in sync with Jordan De Goey but not so supporters of 17 other teams? We applaud our Prime Minister for moving into the Lodge, freeing the Nadesalingam family to Biloela and hopefully doing something about Julian Assange, no thanks to the UK government. Ross Gittins says our market economy is being run by a “predatory form of monetary capitalism”. Didn't John Clarke and Brian Dawe point this out, the energy market explained, back in 2017? A stress strategy? We wonder why lowest paid workers ($1) cause inflation and the worrying concern by business leaders on huge salaries and basically profits up and away, and we have less in our kicks? Losing my marbles, again? Busy doing nothing. The comedy of Peter Dutton blaming labor for the power outage. I spent the week re-watching Collingwood's great victory over the evil Melbourne team. Donald Trump’s 76th birthday recently. I'll send him a 'get well' card, braincell well? And Australia’s shoot out with Peru gets our team into the world cup. Our team? Ok, Australia's. Ahh, but what to do if I stop writing? Watch replays of Collingwood’s victories? A raison d'être? I’ve always had work. No more. Too bloody old, fact of life. Hard enough doing the 4 minute drive to Woolworths, the 350 steps to my RSL for my two pots of Carlton Draught. Television is for watching - after 6pm, taped, to avoid the commercials. I kid myself of the need to write, my motivation, at least I can think, so far? A few marbles still floating around. Working for a living, always good thoughts. I had this "something will turn up" attitude for years. It began as a boy. I was too busy back then, age, 10, or 12, not sure. I do remember the only way to have money in my pocket was working for it, a living. No pocket money back then for Cliffie. Mornings on Westgarth station, a built in cubby structure on the platform, selling The Sun newspaper, tuppence, and steam rollers etc to the workers, on a set wage of 10 shillings a week. Back to the news agency at 8.30, takings checked in, off to school, boring. After school a newspaper round, The Herald, a set fee, but extra money on extra sales after the paper round by selling to passing cars, corner of High Street and Westgarth Street Northcote until around 5.30, home for tea after cashing in. After tea by pushbike to the Merri theatre, North Fitzroy, a lolly boy, Wednesdays to Saturdays including the hell of kids at the Saturday matinee. Payed on commission/sales Saturday evenings. The key as a lolly boy was angling for the dress circle upstairs, people with money, buying a box of Old Gold chocolates, 5 bob, expensive, bigger commission. Big money also during the VFL football season if a Collingwood victory. At the Westgarth RSL, or bowls club? The Herald and the pink sporting globe at tuppence each, A Collingwood victory and given sixpence, most adding “keep the change”. Eureka! The sadness of a Collingwood loss, they don't  want to know you, nothing doing. I never did receive pocket money. My best mate got  ten shillings a week, Fridays, so I would lend him 2 shillings a day, repaid Fridays, until he hit the jackpot and also got work at the Merri theatre as a lolly boy. We  would have a slap up meal Saturdays, baked beans on toast at 2/6 a pop. Hang the expense. As it happened something did turn up, well, until about four years ago. Have I lost faith? never. If nothing else the do gooders, the hypocrites, the self righteous, presently located in areas like Northcote, or North Fitzroy, slowly creeping up to Rye near the antarctic, will keep me on my osteo arthritic toes.  


"Judge not, that ye be not judged." At least until the evidence is unequivocal. What is it with bosses? I've never got it but ever the fascination, particularly their motivations. I've ignored it throughout the years, apart from Mr Baker in arithmetic grade 8, and 6 cuts, and marks of 100%, out of fear. I've had my turns as a boss, overrated, let it run its course, no purpose? Spot the trouble but 'noted' at best, possibly connected to my upbringing? and the steel principle of no dobbing, still as strong as ever. I've no doubt written about this before, but reminded by some wanker security guard, new on, at my local club, wearing my beanie in the dedicated smoking area, half covered area, half open middle of Winter. Took it off until he left, chest out. Sorted. It doesn't always help, more often than not people quick to self cut their own throats. I was the boss that day, a race meeting at Caulfield. Young Brad showing signs of stress, and a bigger boss from the office on the lookout. I warned young Brad, keep his fingers out. Danger. Brad could not resist, at $2000. Caught, sacked, sad. As a public servant, yes, section leader, always ignored, their choice. As an auditor, false name on the pay sheet, set him straight, and so on. As a director, a live audience preview, the writer blasted the cast, and left, missing opening night applause, unconnected with his chest out blast. Other examples, dozens. He, like most of them, getting ahead of themselves, no doubt self justification, but on reflection, for what? Nonsense. Often a sense of their thinking, invisible, RSL dedicated smoking area, visitors from Melbourne, mid twenties, iPhones, long weekends and the like, strutting, arrogant, loud voices, disrespectful, just occasionally, thankfully, males and females. Two nights running, then yesterday, Sunday, the opposite, interesting people, same ages, not a mention of playing the $5 poker machines, and so on.


Nadesalingam family and their return to Biloela. While it might seem like a welcome good news story, the resulting glow of self-satisfaction should be vanquished by the article written by Mehdi Ali (“Defending dignity”, June 11-17), who points out that we don’t do enough for those presently incarcerated – including whistleblowers such as Julian Assange – or refugees in Australia. This must include those displaced by floods or fire and the Indigenous people who have become refugees in their own land as a result of our economic policies that allow native title to be extinguished for fossil fuel projects. 


"AIM Network: The ‘quiet Australians’, which in real terms translates to people with no coherent political world view and quite limited analytical capacity. The same folk who consume Murdoch media and watch endless reality television on the commercial channels. Gas, the Howard government: by not requiring them to provide for any sort of strategic domestic reserve basically granted a laissez faire, free and unfettered share of the market without accountability to the national interests at the domestic level.


The Saturday Paper, editorial, edited: "Australia has drawn on the worst of American politics. Scott Morrison tried it with his failed voter identification bill. He tried again with his failed campaign against transgender athletes, which contributed to his loss at the election. The lack of talent and imagination in the right-wing parties has seen the Coalition ape the nativism of the Republican Party. They play mindless dress-ups, pretending that America’s politics are our politics. They forget the fundamental differences of our health and education systems, the inescapable security of social welfare. This is nothing to celebrate. The party’s foolishness will only make it more desperate. Although Labor will not have to negotiate on policy, it will find itself responding to a fringe that has claimed the dignity of opposition. It will be forced to fight over the obvious." [Memories: Robo-debt, pork-barrelling, fossil-fuel enabling, the stacking of official bodies, the diminution of women and minorities, refugee bashing. integrity, for climate, for First Nations people.]


Tribunal member Jane Tate, on the heritage listed Canterbury house with solar panels: "I consider this will detract from the heritage significance of the dwelling as it presents to the street.’’ Charming nonsense...A decade of service to Melbourne (AFL) Nathan Jones and Simon Goodwin drops him from the 2021 GF team?...Queens birthday match 2022: An obsession with 'touches'. Clayton Oliver best on ground, silly. Ditch half the bloody statistics, call the game. Not that it matters. On the other hand I fancied Jordan De Goey and he didn't make the first five in the best players? A great game, albeit again the mysterious umpiring decisions. Ginnivan, classy, not so much this day, needs to pull his head in, rely on his talent....GRIPES: 1/ Radio/Guests: “Thank you for having me.” OR “Happy to be here.” Nonsense, Say “Good  morning.” It’s radio; they need you! 2/ AFL: Steven May plays for Steven May. He joins the triptych: Shane Jacobson Samuel Johnson and Steven May...Nice of the AFL to worry about crowd numbers. One could almost think they were concerned for the supporters?...I paid 11% on my mortgage 1970's...Beware of people who say "the best available evidence"...Interest rates rises, and those who bought way over the odds due to their addiction to a home at any price, particularly those having the ability to qualify for a $1 million loan; little (if any) sympathy... Neighbours bites the dust August, farewell...Also farewell to Tommy Dysart, same age, lovely man...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜€

Sunday 5th June 2022..Peter Dutton to replace Cliffie Ellen as A Grain of Salt writer? Full marks for effort with this nonsense - ‘‘All I want to do is to make sure that we don’t forget about those in the suburbs, and I do think they are the forgotten people. I do think those people in small business and micro business feel like the system is against them.’’ Still, if nothing else, he's consistent. He comes out with much the same nonsense on his climate policy. I'm thinking his best bet is to cuddle up with one or two of those female independents, not only displaying a climate policy change but also his newfound love for females in general, previously a failure under Scott Morrison. Whatever, nice to have politics without our previous PM, and a public service after nine years of crooks. I could list them but repetitive, time for a fresh start, smell the roses while we may, though in reality, likely short term. Lucky Last Salt? Maybe forever, at least for another month of Winter. Strike while the iron is hot? Two Collingwood wins on end, an elected Labor 77 majority government and Peter Dutton admitting he made a mistake when he boycotted the national apology to Indigenous Australians in 2008. It's all good in the short term, other than in Flinders where they elected a seldom seen Liberal with an increased majority. Precious Peter also backed a strong federal anti-corruption body and said the rise of China was ‘‘the biggest issue our country will face in our lifetime’’ as he promised to work with Labor on national security. Am I dreaming? In fact no, all part of the new look, our "lull" to clear the air, both parties, as Albo reshuffles his cabinet. Energy prices up, cost of living up. Females on tap "on guard?" not only for Dutton's mob but the Independents and the Greens. No doubt the politics will shift to state Labor and Danny's lot with the November election looming and the worry of the Teal independents after their federal success. The 'new' Peter Dutton will be interesting, once (seemingly?) a supporter of Morrison's sports grants, car park rorts, ‘‘mates’’ to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, federal ICAC and of course his 'African gangs' during Victoria's long long lockdown. Add in the abandonment of universities and the arts sector during COVID. OK, so I list a few for good measure. Corruption yes, and (according to Peter Hartcher) incompetence, but for mine, particularly, dishonesty, and obviously no respect for the working class, which includes these now "forgotten people in the suburbs" which Precious Peter is currently on about, obviously under instruction from his secret group of back room boys, and maybe even girls? We await the dust to settle. Meantime, I'll take a month off, try to bring myself up to date with all those bloody Apps, the near certainty of falling too far behind in this technology world. Who are these swish young men with beards and a head full of bloody Apps? A QR code for a cup of coffee? Bugger off. In life, we all have an impression of the person we know. Some are happy with that, sensible in that we will never know anyway. I'll go the other way, not into evidenced nature, more believing we never really know, impressions to the backline, ASIO spies? Hey, I can say whatever comes to mind. I'm 86. It's a free country right? Or am I jesting? A strange week, lots of talk about nothing in particular, from Waleed Aly, David Speers and Virginia Trioli, more dust..Back July 3rd, when the dust has settled. Electricity, gas, beer, water, computer, foxtel. Stay strong. xxxx. Oh, and cigarettes.   


David Livingstone, The Age, edited: "Australia’s positioning with the West and Washington, and our strategic concerns about China’s military build-up, its aggressive approach to Taiwan and its incursions in the Pacific, mean that China is now a strategic challenge to our security. China has moved from the engine of our economic growth to a zero-sum rival in relation to security. There is no strategic or military gain by China that works for Australia. Thus, our domestic, regional and international interests argue against any Australian government seeking to – or being seen to – appease China to improve bilateral relations. Can the Albanese government hold a firm line against China to protect Australia’s strategic interests while responding to see if we can reestablish engagement with our largest trading partner, regrettably absent for several years? It is to be hoped the new government can manage such a nuanced approach. Dialogue at the highest levels has value even if agreement on strategic issues is elusive. Penny Wong is highly capable. She will be alert to act positively where opportunities arise. It is a difficult balancing act, but one that the new government should feel confident in undertaking." [Go Penny.]


Paul Bongiorno, The Saturday Paper, edited: "A majority government with 77 seats, the ability, therefore, to push his legislation through the house of representatives without needing to negotiate with the Coalition, Greens or the 12 independents. The senate is an entirely different matter. Not unusually, the governing party is in a minority, with the Greens dominant on the crossbench, where they have 12 senators. Labor would need either the Coalition to vote with it or the Greens and one other independent to get legislation through. Greens leader Adam Bandt will not follow the example of the party’s founder, Bob Brown, in 2009, by making the perfect the enemy of the good on emissions reduction legislation. Labor still sees the Greens voting with the Coalition to defeat Rudd’s carbon pollution reduction scheme as a major contributor to the decade-long climate war. Bandt says he is prepared to accommodate the government but will draw a line at allowing new gas or coal projects. He is unimpressed with new Climate Change minister Chris Bowen’s willingness to leave it to the market. “They don’t leave it to the market on wage-setting, why would they on something as existentially threatening as climate change?” he says. Bowen will chance his arm at legislating Labor’s 43 per cent target, ending the Morrison government’s practice of withholding contentious bills. He says it’s the right thing to do but will not spend an inordinate amount of time in futile negotiations, because the target can be otherwise mandated. Sure, it can, but the Greens and the teal independents will be able to leverage enormous political pressure on the new government by pushing for stronger targets through attempted amendments. There will be a lot of interest in the performance of the raft of independents who took six blue-ribbon seats from the Liberals. Climate change and integrity in government were top-order issues for them." [Hey, yes they remain a pain in our backsides, but still a vast improvement on our last nine years of the "entitled".] 


What! Hurry up? ‘‘We don’t have many successful treatments at the moment, but if they do come up in the future, then we’ll know who to target those treatments to.’’ While previous studies have drawn links between cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia, this is the first time the use of both walking and memory testing has been associated with a greater risk"...Ambition is a strange one, to me at least. Perhaps born with a defeatist attitude, surely not? Never at school, waiting, waiting, class dismissed, through to year 11. Twenty years as a commonwealth public servant, three promotions by rote after passing the AASA exams, which I agreed to study as company for a close friend. Accountancy not my go. I witnessed the odd ambitious people, usually sucking up, being friends with these types similar to drinking lemonade. A move to theare/acting, and a higher degree of sophisticated sucking, including the seemingly innocent addition of backstabbing. Ever the fascination. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with ambition, surely natural to want to improve one's lot in life, but not mine. A quiet life? Walking and dementia? Yes, to the RSL, 2 pots, daily. 


Bailey Smith head butt, no bias? DeGoey would have copped the rest of season 2022, add in 2023 if Caroline Wilson had her way... Buddy copped a week, an instinctive slap as I saw it, but worth a week nevertheless. But please, no heroics on the Richmond captain, a 'sneaky' type for years...Julian Assange Albo? Or gutless?...Ross Gittens, a favourite. A question mark writing Kim Beazley was "strong-armed" as ambassador to Washington. Good to see Kevin Rudd contradicting this rare error...The Queen's Platinum Jubilee 4 day celebration, not my scene...Gillon McLachlan’s successor as AFL chief executive will be found by a US-based recruitment firm. Why?...Funny how the AFL crowds still roar for the same free kicks (dropping the ball, holding the man) from 20 years ago, despite the many changes...Hawthorn later today, then a bye round before the dreaded two losses back to back Melbourne. I'll tape it, delete if an unsatisfactory result, as always. Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜€

Sunday 29th May, 2022. Politics/mandates: You've got to give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little. That's the story of, that's the glory of love. What with Melbourne getting beaten (AFL, Naarm?) and the hope/fear of the Collingwood Carlton match today I'll keep it short. Sort of enjoying the last strands of sunshine before the oncoming Winter. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, we welcome Peter Dutton, no surprise. Sundays, like last Sunday, are rare indeed, the departure of Scott Morrison's entitlement non policies and a Collingwood victory, delivering the magic of short term inspiration, a form of meditation despite my memory of sodden tomato sandwiches early school days before upgrading to vegemite and cheese. Carlton today, MCG, dare I hope or is this greed? Josh Frydenberg's comment "Fake independents and a weak Labor leader" was only the last few words in the previous two years of verbal attacks on Victoria. Granted a respectable likeable farewell but an enemy of our state throughout the pandemic. True, beaten by an independent teal, or more accurately a Liberal supporter who does not support Scotty, and likewise Labor. Indeed, the rejection of Scott Morrison's Liberal government was not so much a vote for Labor (or the Greens) but a vote against Scotty's lot in particular, and his two bunnies, Frydenberg and Dutton, with smiling Michaelia at the rear. Teal independents yes, but not necessarily left wing, evidenced by the slightly less Labor support but overall, as in the 2019 election, more people voted Labor. True democracy, not quite? We await, though already begun, the increased attacks by Nine and Murdoch on Danny Andrews, using their army of soul selling reporters, sore losers at best. Danny (not Dictator Dan) will again go for infrastructure, health, ambulance delays, housing and schools. Not to mention Peerless Peter Dutton (who walked out on the apology to the stolen generation) on a federal level and more importantly, putting behind us Scott Morrison's adversarial style of politics and (hopefully?) a rejection of toxic, divisive, extremism, and the big plus of a Labor victory, a return to a sense of positivity on climate action, supposedly, with a question mark? And the latest joke, Peter Dutton is pragmatic? I'm a monkey's uncle? Anachronism? At last. Mark McGowan, on ABC: "[Dutton] is an extremist and I don't think he fits with modern Australia at all. He doesn't seem to listen; he's extremely conservative – I actually don't think he's that smart." And the teal independents; climate action, an integrity commission and justice for women? Time will tell? Albanese has the job in front of him after a timid campaign, victory on the back of Morrison's dreadful leadership, based on his 2019 policy of "Get Billy Shorten, transferred to Albanese, plus the nonsense on transgender kids, Katherine Deves (?) the Chinese boat and the Sri Lankan refugees boat arrivals, thus again, no policies to speak of and use of the Murdoch media gypsy caravan. Very much now depends on the ability of Labor's cabinet showing some courage, unless there's a different Albo yet to be seen? Whatever, my particular preferences (hopes) lie with scrubbing this nonsense on the evils of refugees, media reform after Murdoch's lot tried unsuccessfully to brainwash we Australian voters; code of ethics -  “respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. They inform citizens and animate democracy”, and obviously wages reform. I'm not holding my breath, but yes, I can see a small ray of sunlight in a long tunnel. At my age, at least I'm still in the tunnel. Moving on...


Richard Flanagan: "It was widely noted that they didn’t get women, though, as Samantha Maiden noted, it was women who finally got them. At root, the problem was that they didn’t get people: not the old, who were left to die unnecessary, wretched deaths while they went to the cricket. Not anyone under 40 who would never own a home, nor the trans kids they damaged or the poor they may have driven to suicide with the illegal and evil ‘‘robo-debt’’, wasting nearly $2 billion of our money in the service of persecution. They didn’t get kindness or decency, that the suffering in the theatres of cruelty they called border defence not only distressed but shamed many Australians. They didn’t get that their ceaseless rorting and corruption offended people who built lives around trust and honesty." [He's a star this bloke.]


Sean Kelly: "Labor won – sure, on preferences, but that’s our system. Pretending this is not a real win is foolish denial of the way that voting works. But it would also be foolish to ignore that Labor’s vote has been falling for some time. Two sides went to this election offering not that much; both lost voters. The success of the teals and the Greens can be tied to specific policies that are overdue, on climate and integrity." [Climate and integrity, interesting, hopeful, doubtful.]


The new umpiring rules (surely heavily influenced by Brad Scott?) are confusing we AFL football followers, to say the least. So many umpiring decisions ruining the quaint idea of 'respect for umpires'. Almost as bad is when Garry Lyon calls (or comments) on a game, never shuts up from shoving his nonsense statistics, what the losing team must do, on and on like a bloody bad record. Fast overtaking Eddie McGuire as full of their own self importance. Give me Nick Riewoldt any day, in fact give us all a rest from Garry Lyon, including his "On the Couch" efforts for Fox Footy. A fine coaching effort from Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir against the mighty Melbourne side, the man who was the main architect as assistant coach in Collingwood's near miss for the 2018 flag, but don't expect Nathan to agree? 


My grandson has a new job where he can work from home. My son also had/has this "work from home" to some extent, apparently now very popular. Be that as it may I was always, still would be if I had work, a 100% supporter of working at work...Progress, or the disappearing dream, very much like Northcote and North Fitzroy growing up. The rich get richer: Rye by 18 per cent in the March quarter, hitting $1.3 million, weekly rent $520. Rosebud $905,000 weekly rent was $450. Negative gearing and investors, some 6 AirBnBs next door, mostly vacant, vultures, bloodsuckers...At last, a Foreign Affairs minister who talks?...The oh so holy Greens Party. Yet to be convinced. Didn't they stuff up Kevvy Rudd on climate change years ago?...Good luck with this one: In a bid to get spending and debt under control, Finance Minister Katy Gallagher and Treasurer Jim Chalmers have promised to deliver a budget in October, while also conducting an audit of all Coalition promises from the March budget.....Seriously, how does one gamble responsibly?...Northcote, Darwin, protests over the development of four residential towers on the site of Northcote Plaza. Property prices, more evidence of entitlement, the loss of my suburb...Peter (brainybum) Dutton:‘‘ Things are going to be tough under Labor – higher interest rates, cost of living, inflation and electricity prices’’....The USA gun lobby; forever, sounds about right...Antony Green, the ABC’s election coverage. Well done... Apparently teal is a colour? Not in my lifetime...Interesting to see who the Kooyong MP sides with in parliament...Praise: "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips." [Solomon]...Dare I say Go Pies? No, superstition...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜‹

Sunday 22nd May, 2022.  "It's not my job." Better late than never. Our 31st Prime Minister, Ron Barassi's number. “A notorious incompetence” said Macron, about right for mine. Locally [Flinders] Zoe McKenzie walked in thanks to independents muddying the waters, preferencing, swamping any Labor hopes, no surprise. And while all this drama was happening a word for lone sailor Lisa Blair, south of Albany WA. alone after 3 months sailing around the southern ocean, Antartica, alongside 6 metre waves, blizzards and typhoons. A 4th world record. What a woman. So I voted. First impressions; sack the person who designed it. No queue, straight in, dark, crappy pencil provided, glasses a necessity. Numbers 1 to 10  easy, particularly numbers 1 and 10, guess the rest after a 9 opposite the United Australia Party. Let's be honest. Had they voted Bill Shorten in at the last election (negative gearing, capital gains) housing would not have been an issue. "I'm seeking a second term because I'm just warming up" said Scotty. He was right there. Cooking, in fact fried. With so much help from Murdoch's lot and Nine News and seemingly unlimited spending from his Liberal coffers. A glaring bias unseen at this level in all my years. And it should be said, a stuttering Anthony Albanese with high hopes but low on performance, as in communicating. Still, an impressive previous record in politics and seemingly a first class team for cabinet, after the the one or two time bombs of Gough Whitlam's team long ago. On television Richard Marles and Simon Birmingham were impressive. An expected result, but not the courage to print it after the 2019 fright, and no big increase in the Labor primary vote, so apparently (?) a strong opposition to Schomo's rubbish, particularly his untruths, his attack dog technique, and his lack of interest in women in politics. The cost of the fantasy promises, with a forecast loss of $224 billion, quickly followed by "Ok, in comparison to international costings?" And Labor's costings an increase, but responsible costings, et al, time will tell, both immaterial to voters generally. And The Greens ($174 billion over 3 years) the real aim being action on climate change and medicare pluses. On track to be the third biggest and the possible advantage, the balance of power. "Our way or the highway" for all the three? Balderdash. A dozen solid reasons to show Scotty the door, aside from his treatment of the biloela family, those sad refugees taken from the preston hotel and moved to Christmas Island, Richard Colbeck on aged care, IBAC, ICAC "kangaroo courts" (apart from when Daniel Andrews is involved), and that ridiculous last bit, a rugby tackle on a small boy as a sporty PM. O.M.G. I could write a whole column on the ins and outs of jobkeeper rorts, compliments of our money. Has Scotty changed, never, the representative of the entitled. Has the dickhead voter content changed, maybe, ever so slightly, thankfully. Whatever, as I see it, a vote for Scott Morrison was primarily, aside from the nonsense, a vote for GREED, and sadly, Scotty was well aware of this. Further it follows, as I see it, a vote for Morrison being a vote for all the things he believes in, which is a far cry from the Liberal Party of yesteryear. I couldn't live with myself for that. Winners are grinners? Not quite, still, a nice feeling, for now. Moving on...


Sean Kelly: "Morrison’s worst moments have come when he has denied there is a problem; or when he has been slow to act; or when he has had all the time in the world to consult but has still, somehow, wound up doing almost nothing. On climate, on vaccines, on bushfires and floods, it was not brutal speed that hurt him but stubborn sloth. Even more ironically, on the occasions he has seemed most like a bulldozer – as in the crisis around sexual violence – it has usually been with the aim of stopping things from getting done."


Margaret Simons: "Some of the content in News Corporation tabloids has read like political advertising for the Coalition. There was the spread in the Herald Sun which read like a paid advertisement for Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in his contest against independent candidate Monique Ryan. The headline was not subtle: ‘‘Why you need to vote for me’’. And on Friday many of the News Corp tabloids ran a story asking the ‘‘teal’’ independents about their policies. Fair enough. They are asking for votes. But the spin in the way it was written was enough to take this old-school journalist’s breath away. ‘‘High-profile ‘independents’ trumpeting transparency have arrogantly refused to properly detail where they stand ...’’ The papers have not subjected Clive Palmer of United Australia Party, or independent lower house MP Bob Katter, or One Nation’s candidates to a similar approach – even though they are equally likely to be important to balance of power in the lower house or Senate."


The Saturday Paper, editorial, edited: The government Scott Morrison leads has achieved less in three terms than perhaps any other in Australian history. What it has accomplished has largely made the country worse. It has dismantled an effective carbon price, antagonised China, cowed the national broadcaster, diminished the broadband network. It has confected a national circus on gay rights, alienated allies, rigged the tax system to ensure a country that will be less fair, where there will be less money for health and education. Morrison’s is a government of gross rorting and frivolous obsessions. Kevin Rudd: "We are now beset by roaring inflation, eye-watering debt and deficit, and a budget riddled with rampant rorts and record levels of taxation, with expenditure projected to remain at pandemic levels well into the 2030s. The extra $70 billion pumped into the economy since December alone is more than Labor spent on stimulus in the first two years of the global financial crisis. Restoring Australia’s Pacific diplomacy will be essential, whether that is with France or the other 17 states of the Pacific Islands Forum, whose faith has been battered by successive aid cuts totalling $250 million. Australia cannot simply deny these cuts happened, as Scott Morrison does. The next government must also reassure Pacific leaders that we understand their existential climate concerns."


Bob Weis, Facebook: "The end of the rorts, the stealing from public funds, the daily lies and total legislative action. The country is exhausted and shocked by the terrible treatment of our young and elderly. Grow the economy, pay a lifetime of taxes and then get thrown on the scrap heap, suffer indignity, neglect and cheap, bad food. It has to stop and urgently. Elderly people have earned the right to be treated well in their winter years. Nobody deserves to be treated the way our older people are being treated every day. Housing affordability is now a problem for anybody but the rich and with inevitable interest rate rises, as we move toward a productive economy, the cowpersons with multiple negative geared properties will be crushed, and rightly so. I remember when dad pointed to one financial institution that was paying more than the others in deposit interest. “Something isn’t right with them” he noted and they went bust a few months later. Don’t look at the headline rate, he showed me, look at the risks implied by the rate offered. It is going to be a massive relief to see skilled ministers and not the spin doctors who rort and lie. Yes, I am looking at you Angus. And so many of your colleagues. Hunt quit rather than face reelection but put some poison pills into Medicare on his way out delisting many important medications and services like medical imaging.  Want an MRI? Pay up front. Expensive too. Ok for the rich. Our job, as citizens, is to hold the government of the day to account, and call out any wrong doing. Go Albo, Penny, Tanya, Richard, Chris and team. We have had reporting as if we were electing a President but we are electing a team." 


Yes, actor Craig McLachlan often displayed instances of over confidence bordering on "up himself" in his television interviews, but from my experience of theatrical dressing rooms, and I've never met the man, he has been the victim of the other side of the female clique. All very sad. I wish him, and the ladies who were to give evidence, well......And now, to more important matters, Collingwood to beat Fremantle, tonight?..."It is instinct in our nature to follow the tract pointed out by a few leaders; we are gregarious animals in a moral as well as a physical sense, and we are addicted to routine, because it is always easier to follow the opinions of others, than to reason and judge for ourselves." [Paris]...But not always, keep yourselves nice...Farewell to Caroline Jones, former ABC journalist, top value, straight talk, for many years...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ™ƒ

Sunday 15th May, 2022. Election, Saturday May 21st. "Are we there yet" recalling the call of a child in the back seat while stopping at the first set of lights on a long car trip interstate. I bloody spy. The best part of 200 kilometres (Benalla) that particular journey. RW? Bloody wrist watch. Six more days, not quite there, time for last minute fear mongering. Death taxes, GST increases, boat arrivals, cost of living, health, China, you name it, anything likely to increase the FEAR of a change of government. We look forward to the pleasure of weeks without stupid telephone calls and an empty mail box. Perhaps, albeit stretching the truth, politicians who tell the truth? Around 978,000 watched the great debate on Nine last Sunday, judged at 50:50, (a grain of salt?) by the Age. A shouting victory for Morrison, purpose achieved by sucking Albanese in to respond in like, rather than express his treasure of good points, amassed over the past 3 years. We thank our stars he has a good team behind him when/if Scotty bids farewell and the mystical fat lady sings "Good old Collingwood Forever." True, there's a basic honesty in Albanese, but oh, how he does tend to tie himself in knots during interviews. A performer in hiding? Maybe read up Stanislavsky on acting? More and more (as in AFL football) it's the commentators, sometimes referred to as journalists? (Chris Uhlmann on twitter?) who want to run the show. Perhaps not "running" the show but certainly there in the interests of their employers as against for the good of honest journalism. The first question was enough to turn me off, the meaning by Morrison of having drawn a red line on any Chinese military bases in the Solomon Islands? Double talk, interpreted, as I see it, by relying on the mighty big brother, the US of A. Is politics beyond (like school bullying) the root cultural causes of misbehaviour, rather than the recent symptoms. We can only hope. Time out for politicians, I think not. Memories of being called out to the front of the class, six 'cuts' with a leather strap. Lesson learned. Bullies have been around forever, males mostly, but females almost as strong in my early schooling. Scotty is so evident as a bully, the look tells all, even allowing for my principle of refraining from jumping to conclusions. One week to go, Albo's policies looking better but sadly climate change (either party) weak as water. In this regard the Independents, the real ones, in with a chance in key seats, though surely not in Kooyong; hard to imagine those voters against their Treasurer despite his anti Melbourne comments the past 3 years. If Albo does happen to win, he surely will NOT move to Kirribilli House, as in bursting his hard early life bubble? A stressful week, ignoring phone calls, the anticipation, the joy of victory? Or Billy Shorten revisited? OMG. As for the chinese ship, I don't know what's worse, the ship or Nine News? And another Collingwood loss. Maybe download the keno App? And so its goes...


HISTORY: 2017: Former Australian trade minister Andrew Robb walked straight out of Parliament into an $880,000-a-year job with a billionaire closely aligned to the Chinese Communist Party and its key trade policy. Remember the mysterious Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)? Apparently too important to Australia to let us into the fine print with Andrew Robb in the driving seat, involving pharmaceuticals, copyrights and many other agreements? April 12th, 2019: "You vote Labor once, you pay for it for a decade" so says ScramMo. Not to be denied, Josh Frydenburg announced "We are back in the black" regardless of the fact we are indeed still in deficit. Let the battle begin, here in Victoria open warfare via the Herald Sun and The Australian with Billy Shorten (and anything remotely critical of Danny Andrews) in their destructive sights. Election May 18. Calm and collected, not angry, not depressed. The thought of seeing and hearing this man spruiking on my television screen (and radio) for 35 days is too much. Besides, I’m far from certain the favourable news polls will transfer into Labor votes, meaning, I have little confidence in the intelligence of the Australian voting public. Morrison’s tactics obvious, throw out dodgy figures (Labor’s tax hike) and when questioned invite Labor to show the real tax hikes, in fact the attempt (and more to follow) to trap Labor into coming to the party on their terms, blanketing the important issues. Likely Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek the best weapon. Not sure what side the fat lady is on. Like a football match, I remain hopeful, with the fast forward button at the ready, particularly if watching Channel 9 news. 


[2022: Is it climate change and political integrity or trumped by the need for financial security, a dream promised by both sides of politics even though they both intend to return to high immigration levels that will keep a lid on wage demands and maintain the housing price spiral? Age editorial "Independent public service is essential", Thursday. Yes, thought I, a necessity in our federal public service. Alas, a follow on from The Age last year suggesting the state’s public service had been politicised by the Andrews government. More to the point, an independent daily newspaper is essential, and as it stands, it's certainly not The Age


The Saturday Paper, edited: Paul Bongiorno. "We are talking about two million workers earning $20.33 an hour – and the hike would add another dollar to their pittance. We are not talking about rises to executive salaries many multiples higher, which somehow make no contribution to inflation or add to the cost of services or products their businesses produce. There is absurdity in Scott Morrison’s hysterical charge that Albanese is a dangerous economic vandal about to destroy the Australian economy. Albanese is committing to “support” this pay rise in any submission to the independent Fair Work Commission, something Morrison refuses to do on the pretext it’s not his job. That logic is of a piece with “I don’t hold a hose, mate.”" John Hewson. "How sharp is the contrast between Menzies’ principles and aspirations for the party and where it has ended up under Morrison? While many of us have been making this point for some time, Fred Chaney, a previous deputy leader, has summarised the drift succinctly. He is concerned about the “lack of accountability” in the government, the “blatant pork-barrelling”, the pursuit of immediate political advantage rather than the long-term interests of the country. He has also decried the daily focus on politics rather than good government, and a reactive, rather than forward-looking, approach. I was quite frankly appalled by the subsequent attack on Fred – along with Malcolm Turnbull and myself – by Murdoch employee and Morrison sycophant Gerard Henderson under the headline: “Former leaders line up to betray party that made them”. So ignorant. I was surprised to see Henderson write on something new, given his sole purpose seems to be attacking and undermining the ABC, to the pleasure of his masters."


And the latest, for the asset rich 55 and over, previously 60, downsize and invest in superannuation. Buying votes, the greed vote, again. Beware, there's no such thing as a free lunch...The Biden administration insisted from the outset it would consider pursuing the landmark AUKUS project only if it had solid support from both major Australian political parties, yet Prime Minister Scott Morrison chose not to consult Labor until a day before its announcement? By waiting 4.5 months, the prime minister made AUKUS into a highstakes, last-minute political gambit...."Going forward" at (reportedly) 40 COVID deaths a day, The COVID-19 pandemic, with a new strain (again reportedly) every 6 months, at 350,000 and 3000 in hospital. Clearly it's not going away...Wage decisions compliments of stacking the Fair Work Commission (as an independent arbitrator?) pro-business types who oppose in principle?...,If Alan Tudge manages to return as education minister surely a ban on female staff working for/with him?...The Philippines election, victory for ‘‘Bongbong’’ Marcos and a loss for democracy, if indeed it was ever there?...Clive Palmer on fire, again? Not only will he get his money back thanks to his donkey voting followers, but of course preferencing Scotty's Liberal Party...Labor's advertising blitz portraying Prime Minister Scott Morrison as anti-Victorian. I'd have included Josh Frydenberg?...Good to see Kerry O’Brien back in a campaign to save the ABC on YouTube. A voice in the wilderness?...A tricky one: "Biden’s refusal to attempt to negotiate an end to the war in Ukraine is the greatest scandal in American political history.” [Scott Horton]...Caroline Wilson yet again front and centre on the latest by fame game specialist Heritier Lumumba, with his fresh allegations and grievances against the Collingwood club. I assume it's good headline stuff to believe Harry's strange interpretation of the truth, particularly errors of omission via taped conversations? A troubled man...Policies, which political party, child care, aged care, wages growth, climate action, a corruption commission and acceptance of the Uluru statement?...Ange Postecoglou for Prime Minister?...Am I suggesting a vote for Anthony Albanese, no. I'm suggesting a vote for whoever, apart from Scott Morrison. Politics generally is based on opinion, no matter the facts. In my experience  it's a rare thing to talk to someone who gives more than a damn. A catchcry of "They're all crooks". Right now there are jobs, lots of jobs, and $20.33 an hour is there for the taking. And business will argue the extra dollar means an extra $40 a week, and a nail in the many small business coffins who are just starting the recovery from 2 years of COVID variations and lockdowns. And Scotty steered us through it all, so why change, and no boats, and so on, all rammed home via a powerful Murdoch empire with a faint voice suggesting fairness via the ABC. Yet another tricky one, not helped by some of Woolworths price increases miles above the 5.1%. And the Biloela Family, and Julian Assange, and holed up in a preston motel for months, and Peter  Dutton. Make your vote count? Who knows?..."An obstinate man does not hold opinions, but they hold him." [Pope]...Keep yourselves nice....Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ™‚πŸ’”

Sunday 8TH May, 2022. Brrr. So cold I tried daytime television, Judge Judy, nah, too many commercial breaks. Sometimes, and this is one of them, Sunday comes around and I really have nothing to write about. So much trash politics throughout the past week one closes the mind, of necessity. I look, scroll, and move on, even Niki Savva, a favourite. As for television, prostitutes questioning the leaders, an Albo gotcha moment, big effing deal? There is maybe one interesting aspect, Shorten last time being very good one on one, but unable to communicate with feeling to a mass audience, and his replacement Albanese, the (almost) exact opposite. The Morrison government has made a name for itself in the field of corruption and a lack of accountability verging on the (some say) grotesque. Its members have shown little contrition on being exposed; copied. It's a pattern, brainwashing on a very large scale, a la Trump's American way, those even with half a brain should have picked up on it by now but I'm not betting on it? Newspapers, television news, via Murdoch and Costello, no policies, all attack dogs, aiming for Albanese and for good measure Danny Andrews, night after night. If waiting for anything other than 'soft' interviews with Matthew Guy or Scotty on Nine News you'll wait till doomsday. What does it all come down to, the basis/bottom line of his campaign, minus doubtful promises here and the previous election - a policy of fear! Sadly this included a shade lookalike via Danny Andrews state budget, no doubt saving goodies for the November election, particularly health, treading carefully? I had my fourth jab and the 'flu needle Wednesday. Not fussed, life hanging by a thread, a dilapidated face and body, until I realised a need to survive until May 22nd, to celebrate the departure of Morrison and the tall bald gestapo armaments lover from Queensland. That, and Collingwood beating Melbourne June 13th. I should worry. On the other hand a woman in remand to face court on a murder charge late August, a long time to feel self pity? Why are we letting Australian Julian Assange rot in an English jail? Well and good it may look for lots of chest thumping types, against the Chinese, the Russians. Why not the English and the Americans? It's not as if he told lies, like our current (American lookalike?) politicians? Our Scott, dilettante supreme? Add in the dozen detainees who were woken in the early hours of the morning, loaded onto a bus, and taken to Christmas Island. I settled for Sean Kelly early in the week, The Age: "In 2019, Shorten dictated the topics; Morrison’s skill was in taking those topics and using them for his own ends. It is no surprise, then, that Morrison had his only sustained moment of strength in this campaign off the back of Albanese’s early mistakes. Because Morrison has no definite political character of his own – no beliefs he is ever truly willing to fight for – he is forever responding, to either his opponents or events." And the interest rate rise? No problem for Scotty, just another reason to beware of Labor? There's one other curly, unless I missed it? Scotty seems bent on how Albo will pay for his promises yet I am waiting to hear how Scotty will pay, or are his promises, as in the previous time, fairy floss? I loved Scotty's freezing the deeming rate, clear as a bell, for rich pensioners? Amidst all this nonsense there's COVID, near enough to affecting a member of every family right now. Then there's the tough hombres, fishing for four days off the south coast of WA, catching a 175 kgs swordfish after a four hour battle, politics, Covid far from their minds. All types. Moving on...


Channel Nine’s “The Great Debate” on 60 Minutes tonight. Why no ABC? Albanese “I guess he’s part of a government that cut funding for the ABC, and even our sensible suggestion of increasing ABC broadcasting into the region so we get Australia’s voice in the Pacific was ridiculed by this prime minister,” Spot on? No questions here on our casualised workforce, his support for below-inflation wage increases, not to mention stacking arbitration bodies with government-appointed employer representatives? 


From the vault; human nature, updated: At the RSL, a lady, jocular in conversation, asking what I first looked at in a female. The inference, as I saw it, being men looked at the female body first, legs, bums and boobs sort of thing. 'The eyes' I responded, looking her straight between her eyes. I took the quick easy way out, all alone in the dedicated smoking area, knowing, while it's nice to be spoken too, equally nice to be pleasant in response, the reality at my age is invisibility. I could have added I look for brains but held my tongue, too much information. A listener by nature. More likely the lady was between spins on her (poker) machine, having a quick cigarette game break as respite, a memory hangover from her home life, maybe not. A good question, though unusual, why me? Something to mull over after her evacuation, based on my thinking in years gone by. True, we all judge. Instinctively I always checked the eyes. A lot of truth there. Equally I ignored the tall traditionally attractive ladies. No point going where you don't belong, not being a footballer or famous in any way. I was never one for backsides, though I've known a few females who expressed an interest in this area with male footballers. Never any interest in the size of boobs either. Nowadays men (and particularly women) go to great lengths to make themselves (seemingly) more attractive; cosmetic surgery. Apart from spending to fix obvious faults one wonders why? Isn't it all about personality, a form of agreeable charm? Who's to know? Proust said you could seduce any woman if you were willing to sit and let her complain until 4 in the morning. I've never tried it, but then I've never been one to chase after a female. Still, in the interests of honesty I'll admit, the sighting of a stocking top, brown or black (not white) induced an unforced higher blood pressure, not now obviously, but once upon a time, maybe? Mark Twain? "When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself." [Rusted on voters, particularly, though not necessarily, Mornington Peninsula voters? Two more long weeks, fascinating or bored?]   


I loved this one from Tanya Plibersek, Insiders ABC:  "I don't want to interrupt you David (Speers) please go on"...Housing prices and no hint of negative gearing, disgraceful and gutless....Nice to see Malcolm Turnbull still throwing punches from afar. He did his best in the big job, double  crossed by the ugly sisters, Dutton and Cormann...Roe v Wade, the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy, no argument surely?...Baz Luhrmann to direct Australia into a TV series. Assuming Shane Jacobson's not in it I'll be watching. It would have to be better than the film?...Historical; cash rate drops to the back line, cash rate term deposit increases?...Independents, two heads, Hydra and Ancient Greek mythology?...I like this one from Dan Meehan; "You could train a parrot to raise interest rates after the horse has already bolted."....I wonder at his logic this time around, May 2019; chap at the RSL, telling of how happy his mother was on the Sunday morning. Apparently her house, valued at $900,000, but had Shorten been elected he was going to tax it at $200,000?...Glass houses, people? May we blame China on the wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan?...Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly, super rich guys in heavy favour of living for bread, never the thought of dying for art?...Promises, again, shades of Greg Hunt, aka Liberal Candidate for Flinders, Zoe McKenzie: "A re-elected Morrison Government will provide $750,000 to Wallara Australia to build an Inclusive Jobs Hub at Sages Cottage Farm in Baxter, Victoria."...Donovan and Minogue to return to Neighbours, desperation?...Melbourne to become the Narrm Football Club during the AFL’s celebration of Indigenous culture. How long before somebody suggests all other teams follow suit?...Wimbledon excludes players from Russia and Belarus, an 'open' tennis tournament?...Loquacity, with apology to Shakespeare: "He speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Australia; his reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day till you find them; and when you have them, they are not worth the search."... Go Pies, gone Pies?... Happy Mothers Day, keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ™‚πŸ’”

Sunday 1st May, 2022....Mother's month, isn't it always? Oops, that hurt. Life is a cabaret, but not for Boris Becker and Julian Assange? Boris in particular had the wrong business manager, a lesson learned too late in life. And in the real world, a lull, surely? After a painful three weeks of both sides sprouting promises it's falling on deaf ears, a string  quartet out of tune. Fortunately the great Collingwood tin-arse victory over the Essendon mob allowed us to luxuriate, temporarily. The Liberal mafia infers it often enough but hasn't said it yet "If you're worried about the Chinese don't vote Labor," How low can they go? Answer, as low as it takes, beginning today on how Albo goes in the far West. We await next Sunday's shoot out on Nine, pistols drawn. Let's be honest. With Scotty's disasters (policies?) the past three years he needs to focus on Albo as policy numero uno to take focus from him, ditto the Kooyong Kid's anti-Melbourne rhetoric. John Gorton, Andrew Peacock, even Robert Menzies, never my vote, but a form of respect for small l Liberals, Morrison sending the small-l meaning to the trash can. Whatever, the bottom line is always money, and if it's the banks, the politicians, the supermarkets, power companies, they shaft us. It was ever thus, but hey, we tread water, patiently awaiting another wave, to carry us to shore. And so it goes. Our friends at The Age are suggesting Tanya Plibersek and Bill Shorten are being frozen out of appearances, probably true but the real reason is to stir up the stove in the Liberals Costello favour. His newspaper, ditto 3AW, Nine News feasting on the IBAC report on Andrews Victorian Labor lot, black marks for the November election and assisting in taking the heat off Morrison's Liberals; yum yum. The City of Lismore is staging a free concert days before the election to give the residents 'something to look forward to', featuring Paul Kelly and other big names. Ukraine to Lismore to Mallacoota, looking forward to? Scotty says halve the petrol tax, $250 to Cliffie, and from July 1st tax cuts, and speech after speech smoothing over the facts, skilfully, and coming down hard on Labor's Albanese. His speech at Rockhampton was classic Schomo. Then there's the enigmatic Peter (Achtung!) Dutton, not unlike Barnaby Joyce's strange mind. In the words of Comanche Ten Bears to Josey Wales "Our government has double tongue". What does all this mean? It means the Independents (females?) are coming, The  May Maidens, various policies maybe, but most with policies to make this country safer, or as they would no doubt call it, "values" or even "wellness" and so the threat of ending the two party choice? Well, not quite, but a fascination nevertheless. And the obvious problem on most of our minds; inflation at 5.1%, followed closely by hospitals and health care and way back in third place, housing prices. Oh, nearly forgot - wages. And climate change, sorry, can't remember? The war and the Solomon Islands? Not right now, leave it for the Yanks to sort out. It should be noted inflation at 5.1% means your wages and my pension are shafted, similar to the money you put into the  poker machines; for the unsure, it means for every dollar you get around 85 cents back into your half empty kick. As for the interest rate rise, brrr. It would be nice if we had our Prime Minister's policy, if any, on industrial relations, and for good measure, Women? Oops, there I go again with the Mama Cass Elliot song - Dream a little dream. Birds singing in the sycamore tree? Even so...


Letters, The Age: The tragedy/comedy of our supposed strategic outlook? "By any measure, this government is bereft of any insightful instincts when it comes to diplomacy. Yes, China attempted to cover up the origin of COVID-19 – but did we have to lead the charge? Yes, it looked good in the US while Donald Trump was posturing and flailing with the virus. But we were like the little brother poking its tongue out at a bully from behind the back of an older sibling. This is a party who could not elevate Julie Bishop, its foreign affairs minister and most competent and discreet parliamentarian, to the top office. This is a party that has lost the plot on soft power – of working diligently behind the scenes. This is a party that thumps its economic chest on the back of trade with China while taking the moral high ground on China’s methods of government and control. And now we have Peter Dutton preparing us for war. We have learned nothing on the art of standing firm while not antagonising a powerful and image-conscious global giant – and demonstrated the exact opposite on rhetoric and hubris. Yes, we should prepare to defend ourselves as best we can – diplomacy has to be a vital part of that armoury." [Top marks - to Tony Newport].


Last time, a memory: Saturday 18th May, 2019. Election Day: The unthinkable disaster, of putting up with "the mouth" of Scotty Morrison for another three years. What can't be cured must be endured, or Labor's too much too soon? Coming to terms with the result, depressing, but sadly no surprise. A victory for Scott Morrison on a platform of doing bugger all (as in the rich getting richer) coupled with the weeks of personal attacks by Scotty (and the Murdoch press) on the so called evils of voting for Bill Shorten. Respect the wishes of the Australian voters? I think not. Sad for the way so many Australian voters are lead by the nose, indubitably. Try as Billy might, emphasised by his prancing, dancing. Bowman Hall, Blacktown, where 47 years ago, Gough Whitlam delivered his landmark “It’s Time” speech. "Calm down" I tell myself. I survived Henry Bolte when he hung Ronald Ryan. The scare campaign, One Nation, Palmer’s United Australia Party, Queensland dickheads, all contributed, the bottom line, Shorten’s unpopularity? Lacking in adrenaline, a necessary need to communicate, before a big audience. Personalities prevail. I have little (if any) time for Morrison, but in the two horse race against Billy, he won, notwithstanding Shorten’s great back-up team. I liked, believed in his policies, negative gearing, capital gains tax, weekend loadings, wage increases, health and climate change. We await the future (fate?) of "our" ABC, the refugees on Manus and Nauru, obviously climate change, and additional tax benefits to the big earners. It all added up to scaring the voters. It's like a game of table tennis, forget the point you just lost, focus on winning the next, albeit a 3 year wait. That's what I tell myself anyway, despite a lack of conviction. It could have been worse. Yeah? It could have been grand final night after another Collingwood defeat, by 5 points! Can I last another three years? God only knows, and I'm not so sure about him (or her?) either. Breathe deeply, from the diaphragm. [And so, the three years have passed, yet again, hope springing forth, eternal. Stranger things have happened, surely? Later today Collingwood play the  Gold Coast. Is this a sign? More likely I'm going crackers.]


I have come to expect anything introduced by a Labor government ( NDIS) comes  with the expectation of bash and crash by a Liberal government...A shout out to Patricia Karvelas (Radio National) and Fran Kelly, ABC journalists who play by the book (it's called fairness) and still suffer twitter fool from both sides for alleged bias...Franking credits, the low wages paid to employees, housing investments; we're all right Jack?..., Sarah Ferguson to replace Leigh Sales as host of ABC’s 7.30 program, good stuff...Why are they teal independents; a small freshwater duck, typically with a greenish band on the wing that is most prominent in flight?...Dropped the soap in the shower, again, harking back to 1955, advice received before my 5 months stint in the Navy national service: "Never drop your soap in the shower." Never did...David Speers, ABC Insiders. A shadow, to Barrie Cassidy. Time and again tried, lost, a 'gotcha' from Jim Chalmers..."The mind is its own place; and in itself can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven." [Milton]...So I got into my car and there it was, a spider web from the inside rear vision mirror to the steering wheel. Where was he, or she? Too difficult to investigate. Still there I assume, bastard..Sending love to all those mothers, in advance, gorgeous creatures...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ€”πŸ’‹

Sunday 24th April, 2022. The memories of life, way back when. As a commonwealth audit inspector, fresh with accountancy qualifications called in to the boss's office, a two week audit and still no report? Bugger, never having written a report after 8 years as a registry clerk, facing that mental brick wall. Why a report, I've done the effing job? Ours is not to reason why? Forced myself, painful, five long pages, escaped, phew, been writing ever since. Well, my form of writing. Way way back, 1952, Exhibition building, English exam, Form 5. Required an essay. No idea. Hand up, toilet break? I'm stuffed! Went back and wrote something about Greek mythology, out of nowhere? Passed by a whisker. Not sure if I want to recall some past times, perhaps all part of the 'ageing' thing, keeping busy, motivated, by a need to wake up every morning? If good memories outweigh bad why the bad repeats; Agatha Christie's Poirot on Foxtel? The lockdowns are over, all those non vaccinated move among us, as Winter approaches. It's as if we have all won a grand final. Hey, I haven't had COVID, stay well clear of me! Some say if you've had your shots it's mild, no problem, indoctrinated. I'm not convinced. Interesting if it returns during Winter before our state election; blame Danny Andrews? Anzac Day tomorrow, Dad's day, long gone, four years on the front line, never forgotten. He was a good man, my old man, not into football. I'm hoping he will excuse me for hoping for a Collingwood victory.  


Moving on, the election - Playing funny buggers? The Age editorial, Tuesday. "All we want for the election is the truth." Surprised they don't choke on it. Who invented "the devil we know"'? I look at the antics of the effusive Scott Morrison and his cabinet the past three years and see a motley lot accompanied by a long list of dodgy deals. Climate change and wages to the backline. Secret cuts right left and centre, including my toenails? Niki Savva's use of the Mike Tyson quote: ‘‘Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth’’ spot on, for Albanese week one (pow!) and Morrison week two, double pow. I look at the opposition leader, voted in by the rank and file but not the union bosses, and see an unproven leader, an opening night actor in this first serious dramatic role, nervous, supported by an experienced opposition cabinet. For me the emphasis is on change. Morrison's crooked anti-democratic lot need to be shown the door. It's not just their 'better at economics' and our security a nonsense, always those secret cuts, ditto the NDIS dodgy deals, the jobs jobs jobs in place of the real stagnant wages, and the obvious rising costs of living, it's a lot more. The housing crisis cannot be solved by either party's policy, so I'm assuming (hoping?) a form of negative gearing if Labor gets in, being too frightened to say so now and so frighten the dickhead swinging voters. Time to come out of the woodwork Albo, after three years of playing possum, and before that, three years of pretending to support Billy Shorten? Maybe not, I tend to ponder. Ditto in solving the Julian Assange tragedy, and the relocation to Queensland of the Biloela Family. Then there's Marise, safe as houses Marise. Peter Hartcher calls her Pollyanna Payne. The problem with Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne (our Minister for Women?) is she's not quite up to the job, as indeed are some other ministers in this government. Tony Abbott, 2015 “The objective of aid is not to create a relationship of permanent dependency. The objective of aid is to ensure that countries are helped to develop to the point where they don’t need aid anymore.” [The Solomon Islands? So much for the Five Eyes intelligence network.]  Yes, there is a war going on, as I see it for no provable raison d'être, an eclectic decor, via the Americans, with the Ukraine leader featured as a type of hollywood star and the suspicion (skeptical?) without proof of hidden motivations based on their past involvements; meaning the USA. Of course it's a disaster, death and destruction for all to see, so why "defiant until the end" why not a combined push for a peace treaty? Fishy? And our involvement is what, tanks and trucks, or a real non political concern? Morrison, Dutton and Pollyanna? Aren't they the charlie's who looked after the Solomon Islands? Has anyone offered the South Channel Fort 6 km north east of Sorrento? Wasn't Peerless Peter shooting his mouth off at the Chinese? Ask Penny Wong? If you're not up with it by now forget it, check out the Woolworths specials; sugarfree gum up 25%; thieves. On the other hand I'll do an Albo, sit quietly, wait patiently for the pounce, if any. Or for the Americans to sort out the Solomon Islands? Yes for change, and yes for the real Albo, if any. Meantime the jigsaw continues. Thankfully I still have my daily two pots of Carlton draught to brood over, and four cigarettes. Even so...   


Reminders: Quickies - a few obvious items for the 4 million doubtful voters with unsound memories and possibly flirting with the often shonky Independents. Cuts to the ABC and SBS. Add in the national audit office and the Australian television and film funding. Increases? Yes indeed, to Newscorp $345,000. $17 million to friendly TV stations. $30 million to Foxtel for under-represented sport. Questions? Secret court cases for whistleblowers? Freedom of information requests blockade, and increased fee? Sports rorts. Outsourcing Centrelink call handling. There's others, but one week at a time, four weeks to go, but there's more - reduced funding for public education and the cultural institutions such as the universities, the National Library of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, museums of migration, regional museums, Indigenous organisations encouraging the arts. Lastly, incarceration of legitimate refugees, Emmanuel Macron and former Australian of the Year Grace Tame.


From John Hewson, The Saturday Paper, edited: "The TV news and the front pages of the papers and morning television for the next day: This process is easily manipulated by the government. All they need is some of their media mates to pose the gotcha question and then follow up claiming victory in their own presser. The gotcha on economic data could easily have been such a stunt. How quick was Morrison to jump on it with the grin of a cat that just swallowed the canary, blurting out a mass of employment data memorised from his brief? Really?"


From Nathanael Cooper, The Age, edited: The competitiveness in the arts is one of the key issues at the centre of a culture where you are easily replaceable – even the biggest stars have understudies – and performers are constantly reminded that there are thousands of people who didn’t get a role and who would step over your corpse for a shot in the spotlight. Those who speak out or push back are instantly tarred and frequently are not hired by the handful of producers and artistic directors who control what we see on stage. [Some things never change, and never will. Fortunately I had two main sources of income so the luxury of picking and choosing. Still, I was guilty of saying nothing at times, one can't be too stupid?]


The Insiders ABC. We miss Barrie Cassidy...Garry Lyon is challenging Eddie as the leading hot air dispenser. Turnover differentials? Who gives a flying duck?...Sunnyside North nudist beach, Mornington peninsula, and a newsletter hate campaign. Shades of the past, the do-gooders, North Fitzroy and Northcote. Why?..."Hands out" should NEVER be a 50 metre penalty. It should end there. Move on, or else? Simple. Easy. Respect...Cruise ships, more jobs, and the dumping of maritime waste?...Can I still ask "How's your health?" or must I now say How's your health and wellbeing?"...The AFL match review panel fined Trent Cotchin $2000 for kicking? Bias on show, yet again..."I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours." [Kurt Vonnegut Jr]... Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’”

Sunday 17th April, 2022. We give thanks for Shaun Micallef and his talented team in "Mad as Hell" Wednesdays 8.30. ABC. A vision for a better future? Not bloody likely. Anthony Albanese's delusions of grandeur? Alternatively, Scotty's way or the highway? And on the boundary, Australia's number 1 blowhard, Craig Kelly, representing god knows who on behalf of the United Australia Party. Methinks the good news is they (the politicians) go on home for the Easter break and allow our ears to recover. And so the battle begins, hoping, but not expecting either party to campaign on the trouble staring us in the face - climate change. Yes, aged care, jobs and wages, but hardly a whisper on climate? Albo got the unemployment rate wrong day one, cue Costello Nine News and Chris Uhlmann all guns blazing, a timely reminder to give this former respectable news channel (and particularly Uhlmann) a miss until after May 21st. News Corp, Nine and Seven – are all much more sympathetic to the government than they are to Labor, in line with the Liberal-aligned sympathies of their owners. SBS World News beckons. Most of the press are stooges (prostitutes?) armed with gotcha questions in favour of their employer. On the other hand Albo's stuttering reply to a silly question was a worry. His delivery of the Taylor Swift line "My theory is - shake it off" was wet, at best. Indeed this delivery, his chutzpah, is concerning. The unemployment figure is of course a nonsense, in a world of sackings and outsourcing, resulting in more pennies from heaven from our pockets to theirs, and as close to reality as winning powerball. As David Crowe The Age quoted: "I am more afraid of our own blunders than of the enemy’s devices,’’ [Pericles]. For the record it doesn't finish there, the Seinfeldt show about nothing continues with Scotty buying votes (as he did last time, primarily mirages, the Kooyong car parks?) and questioning Albo's competence, bless him, followed up by Scotty scrapping his corruption watchdog promise (against politicians and public servants) given before the last election. Whoever wins it's looking like the $16 billion stage three tax cuts (benefiting the higher-income rich) will stay, surely a wasted tragedy. So much for the disadvantaged; jobseeker, artists. Albo is no Keating or Hawke or Gough, we know that, but as it stands we need an alternative to these elitists and their false promises. Deep breathing from the diaphragm and getting through the message, the real policies; childcare, energy, aged care, jobs, education, healthcare and an anti-corruption commission. A tough call, a long haul, May 21st. Haunting? The Labor Party not only lost the last un-loseable election, but Morrison's victory without an agenda (save the usual fear, greed and economy nonsense) is aiming for it happening again, same reason? Stay strong. For now - Happy Easter.  


Alison Croggon, The Saturday Paper, edited: 1788. Botany Bay, Reverend Richard Johnson, recorded that the people of the colony “prefer their Lust before their Souls”, haunting brothels and theatres rather than places of “publick worship”. This introduced a long history of conflict between theatre impresarios and the colonial authorities who sought to close them down. Since then, many people in Australian public life have made a special virtue of degrading the arts, creating a tradition of anti-intellectualism that starves and mocks the very idea of creativity. Australian authorities often like to keep art for the few, drawing a line between “legitimate” art for the respectable classes versus the unruly, experimental, different and new. We saw this mechanism in the notorious 2016 raid on the Australia Council for the Arts by then Arts minister George Brandis. He took $105 million from its discretionary funds – the money that is specifically used to finance independent artists and companies, which represent both the bulk and the originatory imagination of Australian culture – for his National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA). The aim was to move arts funding away from the Australia Council’s public accountability and peer assessment and into the personal remit of the minister, where it could be comfortably used to fund “mainstream” arts. Over the next four years, for example, the Australian Human Rights Commission will see its budget cut by more than a third. Public schools will have half-a-billion dollars clawed out of their budgets, while private schools receive a $2.6 billion boost. Meanwhile, spending on climate change – the gravest crisis of our time – will fall over the next four years to a pathetic 0.2 per cent of total expenditure. Among the biggest losers are, of course, public arts and cultural bodies. This year’s budget represents a massive cut of 20 per cent, Various other blunt numbers represent a catastrophe for major cultural institutions, which were already punch-drunk after a decade of continuous cuts, even before the pandemic hit their bottom lines.  


From June 2017, for no reason, a touch of history? My attitude to same sex marriage mirrors an attitude to most things in life, as in 'fair enough'. No two people on this earth have agreement in all things. Basically I couldn’t give a monkeys. On the other hand one mother is nice, but two? After watching ‘The Slap’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ (TV) I’m thinking there could be problems. If one of their kids cops a whack you’re looking at a double whammy; pity the teachers. Alternatively two fathers heavily into enforced thinking (political correctness) may be overwhelming for any children of the marriage. God help a kid who has a taste for sugar. My interest in objectors (The Margaret Court arena) is their emotional involvement? Margaret said she would not travel Qantas, "where possible". Were they saying the name of the arena should be changed because Margaret doesn't agree with same sex marriage? Nonsense. 'Overwhelming majority' says Waleed at 62% polling but polling is often far from reality, many voting along the lines of 'seemingly the right thing to say', by no means certain in any final outcome. Believing in marriage between a man and a woman does not automatically suggest homophobia. Margaret suggests her different point of view lead to her being bullied, which was evident on 'The Project'. Not by Waleed but more from the self righteous attitude of the other three interviewers. Margaret gets off on religion and should have left it there. Her added comments, Hitler and the devil, made her an easy target. In my personal experience I "always" let the wife decide, unless of course I disagreed. "Freedom of speech is much more palatable when the opinions of others align closely with one's own". [Ed Rogers].   


From those words Kane Cornes immediately comes to mind - football expert or a self righteous know-all?...The 4 day grand prix; is it over? Apparently yes, and equally despite the cheering, this festival for the rich and the petrol heads cost this state a fortune. $50 million plus last time I checked together with hot air about the return we get from this expenditure. It's a con!...Taxpayer-funded ‘government’ ads blatantly about returning the Liberals to power”?...Has Scott Morrison ever actually governed?.....Dear Albo, take note - Adam Bandt's reply to a curly question at the National Press Club '"Google it mate"...A sense of entitlement? Did you catch the Morrison cavalcade making its way to Government House in Canberra to set the election date? Haile Selassie? Emperor Scotty?... If Albo's economic credentials are so bad how come the government debt is at a 14 year high? Wasn't it Labor who got us through the previous financial crisis? Just asking...Melbourne comes to life....If you're reading this and have mirror sunglasses throw them away now, they look terrible.... On politics and religion: "He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” - John Bright ...I ponder at surviving to 86. Maybe leave a few photos around, Cliffie in his 40's? My bum has disappeared, so too my lips, replaced by two breasts? I badly need a Collingwood victory come Anzac Day to drown out these political nincompoops. Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ˜₯

Sunday 10th April, 2022. Sunday Morning Coming Down, the great 1960's/'70's. Johnny Cash. youtube, to set my mood. Always look on the bright side? Blast, did not work. Another week of nonsense with the certainty of more to come, until the  big Saturday when we cast our vote for democracy, aka the hip pocket. Towke, Fierravanti-Wells, Macron, even Gladys. Are they all wrong or is it Scotty? A budget for all Australians by hopeful replacement leader Josh, my backside; think universities, the farts, cost of living, climate change et al. In fact all non supporters of King Scotty. Ministerial appointments to Commonwealth bodies leading up to the election, jobs for the boys, revolving doors, clear as a bell, sticking it up "us". Morrison may well have been targeted by his own but he's certainly not showing it; the 7.30 ABC interview with Leigh Sales full of front. Mind, Leigh is a female, piece of cake with Schomo's attitude, arrogance on call, almost to the naked eye. It's already started, the election of course, despite not yet calling it; swamping the media with taxpayer-funded “government” ads. "Morrison goes into the campaign poised to lose." Albanese could not have done it without him. The smartest thing Albanese did was not to get in the way of Morrison’s failure. In essence, he stepped back and allowed the Prime Minister to fail on his own terms. He gave Morrison no excuses. The election is shaping up to be a referendum on Scott Morrison, the least trusted politician in Australia, according to the annual Roy Morgan Research survey." According also to The Age newspaper. The suggested connection with China and Albanese, the television news and the newspapers questioning Albo ("How much is it going to cost to include vegemite in your promises?") and allowing Morrison and company to get away with vague promises, housing prices and climate change a specialty. It's a mess, and after three years of this government and COVID we are almost reeling, in the motivational sense. Then we have the United Australia Party, (‘‘Palmer to fling $40m more at UAP ads’’) claiming (chortling?) independence of either Liberal or Labor? Nonsense, perhaps not so much as certain Liberal supporters, but certainly certain not for Labor. All this backstabbing, lying, playing obvious favourites, baiting Albo, sacking half of the public service in favour of yes men and woman, cutting parliament appearances down as it suits him, secret cuts (medicare, aged care) in the fine print, promises never happening, climate what, mister bossy boots and his assistant, three years of sticking it up our backsides. Hail the Emperor? At least when Collingwood loses it's only a week's wait or end of season 6 months, but another three years of these crooks; lost for words? I was looking for the Collingwood Football Club as a ray of hope, currently two from four, sadly should be four from four, and a certain loss, Brisbane at the Gabba, next week. I say again - "Head down, bum up." [Johnny didn't quite work, switching to Jeannie C singing Harper Vally PTA for a dose of TRUTH. Even so...


The Saturday Paper, editorial: As the last refugees leave Park Hotel this week, one of the great lies of Australian politics comes to an end. There is no proof left for the appalling idea that people had to be imprisoned to stop others drowning at sea. This false binary is now undone. Nothing changed in the so-called push factors. No new circumstances presented themselves. The torturers simply grew tired and took off their hoods. What remains though is a terrible truth: these refugees were kept locked up for purely political ends. They were released only because they had outlasted their purpose. There were finally more votes in letting them free than in continuing their abuse. [Mehdi Ali’s account "Tasting freedom" -  his nine years of crimeless incarceration by the Australian government, his reflections on it following his expatriation to the United States, a moving testament to the power of the human spirit despite mistreatment.] [Recalling Pauline Hanson's question, Senate estimates committee, five years ago: 'Do you believe that the threat is being brought in possibly by Middle Eastern refugees that are coming out to Australia? ASIO chief reply: "I've absolutely no evidence to suggest there's a connection between refugees and terrorism." And then there's Julian, and then there's the Murugappan family?]. 


My favourite is when someone opens up with "Let's face it", meaning he/she has decided whatever is to follow is the reality, often including meaningful words like absolutely, exactly right and awesome?..And locally: The 6pm Nine News doesn't let a night pass without getting stuck into Andrews and featuring the very sensible Matthew Guy as Father Christmas?...Lismore City Council mayor Steve Krieg: “no doubt there’ll be another inquiry leading to another inquiry and that will lead to no answers”....Conspiracy theorists, here, there, everywhere....Bullying, Christine Colgate, previously Gillian Trigg, Yassmin Abdel Magled, you decide?...A fair go for pensioners, a positive action on climate change and the elected neanderthals have Cliffie's vote, maybe?...Comedy: Peter Dutton says Putin' war crimes should be investigated because he's a brutal autocrat?...Economic managers: $5 billion loss, the cancelation of the French submarine, courtesy of the Liberals good economic management?...A PM telling us to stick to the party we know; he's sticking us, and we will stick him, come May 21st? Just the one problem, Albo's crowd need to stop jumping at shadows and take their fingers out, in the nicest sense...."I had rather see my courtiers laugh at my avarice, than my people weep at my extravagance." [Louis X11]..."Gluttony is the source of all our infirmities, and the fountain of all our diseases. As a lamp is choked by a superabundance of oil, a fire extinguished by excess of fuel, so is the natural heat of the body destroyed by intemperate diet" [Burton]. Eat, drink, gamble responsibly and keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Sunday 3rd April, 2022. Woe is me, specifically my central nervous system. I watch AFL football from behind. A sneak look at the scores (Collingwood 6 goals in front) and settled in for the last night of (my personal hatred for) daylight saving, comfortable with that extra hour. The tragedy, and a loss to bruiser Chris Scott's mob, and waking to The Age and the front page picture of Geelong's Jeremy Cameron. Yes, it's only a football match. Tell me something I don't know. Ever bloody onwards. Indulge in Melbourne's good life, moving forward? Josh and the budget - “Scotty from marketing” – all spin and no substance. You'd better believe it. A few bob now (low and middle income earners) returned by a higher tax bracket a year on and discontinuing the middle income tax offset. Now you see it temporarily, then you don't. And then we have wages growth? Sorry, I was dreaming, what is wages growth? Assuming the forecast inflation rise (4.25%) my one off $250 will be an overall mirage, indeed a minus. Add in the massive infrastructure difference between what Victorians contribute and what comes back and you (hopefully?) get the real picture. As for the $1.1 billion to cancel the East-West Link project, a Napthine government con a month before the election of Dan Andrews. Ducks and drakes to the naked eye, the possibility (probability?) of the voting majority requiring cataract surgery. A coalition budget to con us, yet again insulting us as voting dunderheads. The pain of the truth of this transparent assessment. Moving backwards? [If it sounds like a duck and walks like a duck it is not necessarily a duck?] [Niki Savva: "There is a sullen mood in the electorate. People have been worn down by the pandemic, devastated by fire or floods, anxious about war in Europe and cynical about a government that seldom gets it exactly right, led by a man whose words often cannot withstand scrutiny."] Not only the weakness in aged care, also less money for climate change, the arts (as always, down to almost nothing) less money for public schools, almost half a billion dollars, and $2.6 billion into private schools. On Albo's reply on Josh's budget “All the sincerity of a fake tan.” Aged care, wages, details to come? And so it goes... 


Shane Warne memorial/sendoff. Respectful, funny, sombre, moving. Good stuff and well deserved, albeit a shade over the top for non cricket followers. I preferred the hour before the official stuff, 6-7pm Fox with Gerard Whateley, no commercials, a line-up of cricketers and friends. Minor gripes, Eric Bana an international superstar, when and where? The cricketers' panel during the send off, again good stuff, as was Shane's family, not so Elton John, Anthony Callea and other performers, a question of taste, fortunately taped, fast forwarding. Where was Ricky Ponting? A bogan yes, also a gentle man. A double treat: Eddie McGuire talkathon not on Footy Classified later, and Eddie at his very best on Shane. [Our Shane, a smoker, a gambler, a womanise, according to reports. So?]


Senator Jacqui Lambie on our Scotty saying she had "no doubt" he was a bully. The third senator to level this accusation at our PM, following outgoing Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells', who had been placed in an unwinnable third spot on the NSW Liberal Senate ticket for the federal election, saying Mr Morrison was a "bully" and an "autocrat" without a moral compass who was "unfit" for office. The third was of course Pauline Hanson. Factually it highlights Scotty's modus operandi going back to 2007 when he organised the destruction of Michael Towke who beat him easily for nomination in the federal seat of Cook, Scotty supposedly pulling the racist card and half truths to switch the nomination. Again, on numerous occasions, including Malcolm Turnbull. [Old news. but strangely now highlighted by The Age newspaper and The Saturday Paper.]. Interesting to note the Murdoch papers played down on the Fierravanti-Wells attack compared to some 59 stories of the so-called bullying of Labor's Kimberley Kitching. Note to boy scout Albo: "Be prepared." Second note to Albo: We know about your early years with Mum, enough already. [Scotty and that War, watch him. He will use it. From John Hewson, The Saturday Paper: The Morrison government has failed to provide essential leadership. It has been absent in preparing for and responding effectively to the pandemic, to a series of natural disasters, fires and floods, and on other big issues such as recognition of First Australians, climate change, aged care and cost of living – always with an edge to perceived political advantage.] There's other 'football' type happenings between high court appearances, the NSW Liberals against preselection choices, and federal Labor taking over Victoria's labor?  


The Chaser: Dear Australians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison here to notify you all that I have finally called the election. I know some of you will be devastated by the idea that I potentially might no longer be Prime Minister, but I am sure you all will vote for me. And if not, would $250 change your mind? Or how about a nice carpark? And to those of you who say all this money I'm handing out only a month before the election is some kind of 'bribe', let me just say you couldn't be more wrong. Why would I need to bribe people when I have my stunning legacy to campaign on? From the bushfires, to the vaccine rollout, to delivering the RAT tests, my Prime Ministership has ensured that every step of the way, voters are always my first priority. Especially the marginal ones. So chuck on your finest Sharkies gear, come grab a democracy sausage, and we can keep that April Sun in Canberra for three more years! April fools! I got you!   


It's time - Assange... I fail to see any togetherness between the Western Bulldogs players and Adam Treloar; maybe it's just me?...Lucky Warnie was not a footballer, travelling at 180 kph in his ferrari, Caroline Wilson would have called for his sacking?...Yet another message to Albo, mate. Child care and wages mate, way to go, suggest maybe a National Integrity Commission?...Missed the Oscars, again...Housing prices; sadly no chance of the obvious, negative gearing, capital gains tax and franking credits. 5% deposit on first home? ...Welcome to the AFL football commentators - "Moving forward, take us through it"?...Finally, if you believe this government is better at managing the economy (apart from Tradies, who by and large haven't a clue) you would surely believe The Gold Coast Suns will defeat North Melbourne in this year's 2022 AFL grand final..."It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled." [Mark Twain]...Keep yourselves nice, deep breathing, wash your hands. As Shane would say "It costs nothing to be nice." Cliff Ellen.



A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ™‚πŸ˜Ž

Sunday 27th, March 2022. Radio commercial 3AW - Restore your love life.com.au? What am I missing? It's been said, though not often, in fact rarely - that I'm funny. Dry. Dry as a bone. Like those mountain men. Remember those dryasabone jackets, mountain men, riding horses, camping, away for weeks on end, great jackets. What happens if they have an earache? And no dunnies for months on end. That's where I do all my meditation, often even, fantasies? Most people aren't funny. A lot of people think they're funny. Mostly - they're a pain in the arse. A joke doesn't make you funny, maybe if you tell it right, or you tell it so well, you get a laugh on a bad joke? That is funny. Then there's the musicians. Never speak, just play all night? A play with no dialogue, all in their subconscious? Mountain men and musicians? So now I'm 86, not so much old as super old. After showering the mirror tells a tale, of weatherbeaten woe. No need for the restoration of a love life, more a need for memory, past loves if any? Clearly a need to have both mirrors ripped out and replaced with a small 'face only' mirror for shaving and face pimples. Yes, I know, there's a war on, and the prospect of another three years under the not unusual pseudo Christian, Scott Morrison. An upcoming budget from our Kooyong Kid Josh. Patience. Redesign of the GST and being shortchanged on our fair share of infrastructure funding, making the GST fairer? That is funny. Everything to do with winning the West at the election? For bloody sure. My love life? Bugger off. Gone with the wind. One step at a time...       


More comedy: If nothing else the AFL is consistent. How to marry up Collingwood's Brayden Maynard copping a two week suspension (in a practice match) for accidentally clipping a player when stretching to knock the ball away, and nothing for West Coast's Willie Rioli for obvious rough contact (he had his eyes on the ball?) and one week for Brisbane's Mitch Robinson (contesting the ball?). And no mention of Mason Cox getting a whack in the belly from behind and off the play? Well, half a mention, the St Kilda bloke copped a sixpenny fine? And you, as a non Collingwood supporter, suggests the AFL is not biassed? As Andy Dalziel would say - may they all  "Go forth and multiply".


Harassed? Strictly for the record, I got harassed at high school. The big bugger, school football full back, gave me a dozen muscle punches every time we passed in the corridor. Indeed, I witnessed boys being harassed by females at central school, but mainly, across the board, it was males harassing males. So I read of (one in six) females telling of being harassed at university, according to a newspaper. We see instances of harassment from both sides in our politics, time and again. By all means try to put a lid on this ugly side of human  nature but try to do it with restraint. If too far, the risk of too much power and innocent people. Harassers, bullies, are a part of life, many created by an increase of a power base. Strangely, the personal verbal attacks by our Prime Minister on Anthony Albanese is near enough to a perfect example of bullying on a daily basis. And that's not all. Albanese, though low key by comparison, has his issues with Bill Shorten's lot in downtown Melbourne. Always been there, always will... 


Kimberley Kitching has left us, which has nothing to do with the price of fish, but as I have respect for the other three ladies, particularly Penny Wong, I have to say, I am far from sold on Kimberley. As for Scotty and his claim against Albo "hypocrisy and double standards" he's a card, but far from a funny card; politics not comedy: Mean girls! Mean men? Add in Albanese's low key anti Bill Shorten and trouble, in the state of Denmark. Put a lid on these side issues, too much to ask for policies, both sides? Roy Morgan survey in The New Daily. The poll found Labor’s Penny Wong to be the most trusted politician in Australia. Scott Morrison was the least trusted. Clear enough? 


One of the first lessons you learn in this University of Life is the world is full of wankers. You don’t learn it early, in fact you’re part of the group, but with half a brain you will suspect something is rotten by the time you’re 40, likely entrenched in your 50’s. Is this a good thing? The jury is out. There you are in your 70’s, hopefully fully informed, but to what purpose? Wankers rule the roost by weight of numbers; abound in all walks of life, yes, legal leaders, medical professionals, politicians obviously and every other nook and cranny you come across, almost always carrying a full set of instructions on the difference between their right and their wrong. Age does not excuse you from being a leading wanker. 50, 60, 80 you’re qualified, but with plenty of mates. A wanker need not research any of his/her opinions. A headline on almost every given subject is sufficient to form and/or add weight to previous set in stone opinions. He/she is too old for him/her. I always vote liberal/labor. Social, political, behavioural opinions rarely subjected to closer examination. In youth one needs to warn and urge oneself to stay on the righteous path but in old age one is automatically warned of discretion in a physical sense, sometimes stopping to deliberately give myself useful wanton thoughts. My first suspicions began as a boy on Monday's during the football season. I would read the summary of each VFL football match, believing the information on the other five matches, but wondering why they got the summary of the match I had seen so wrong? Eventually I realised the permanent factor of bias, myself included. Just saying... 


We look forward to the pleasure/end of daylight saving, this time next Sunday, arguably the stupidest idea in my lifetime...Scotty again, promoting himself front and centre on the Russian invasion, seeing yet another opportunity in comparison with Albanese?...Technical support, iPhones, computer, recorded voices, such a pain, designed to encourage us to either log off or hang up the phone?...Eddie McGuire Footy Classified. You talk too much Eddie. Tone  it down, please...Hillsong chap has "breached the moral code of the church." Wow. That's serious, not...Sonny Bill Williams and Barry Hall, 5 days of painful pre-publicity. Head to head. Who cared?...Ash Barty retired. Amazing talent and common sense, well done Ash. Go well girl. Such a relief to see common sense rather then the long list of those forever chasing "the more they get the more they want."...You may talk about politics till you're face turns blue, as indeed I've done since 1950, but in fact it's always been about profits. No? Name one politician?...Labor should thank Scott Morrison for their South Australian victory...GST splits, via our federal government: Victoria provides 26% of the funding, receiving 18%...Double delight, Pies victory and the mafia, aka Caroline Wilson, picking Adelaide...The Julian Assange treatment is enough for my vote anywhere, but not for Scotty's lot...On the other hand nothing is as it appears. On the one hand it may be impossible to get behind the mind of our Prime Minister or Peter Dutton, but it must be said the same applies to Anthony Albanese. I may well hope for closure on this present government, but alas, is there such a thing as closure? ... Anti-vaxers: "Wherever there is authority, their is a natural inclination to disobedience/Haliburton...Poverty: "From lust of wealth and dread of death secure, they tempt no deserts. Peace rules the day when reason rules the mind."...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ€”

Sunday 20th, March 2022. Hallelujah! As from yesterday a pension increase of $10 a week, aka 6 cigarettes. The older I get the more I realise the less I know. The old Scarlett O'hara adage "I'll think about that tomorrow" becomes a reality.  A slight computer glitz and you're rattled, add in the short memory losses of words and it multiplies. If you let it get too much it can take over, the danger of losing the plot. What plot? I know I went into the bedroom for something, but  what? Bugger me. A message on the home phone and what's the retrieval number? Google it? Settle down. Don't let it get to you. It can be dangerous. Then of course there's the once mighty magpies, temporarily mighty so to speak, Warnie's St Kilda. Don't think old. Think love, think hopes, dreams, care, but not old, and perhaps for dessert a second magpie victory, verses Adelaide? Certainly not stress. People rattle on about stress like it's a cup of bloody coffee. Don't talk to me about stress. Yes, the situation in the Ukraine is dire, the first 15 minutes of television on news nightly, ABC and SBS, or the choice of political nonsense on 7, 9 and 10, or (shudder) Murdoch's prostitutes on Sky News. I had to work with some of the toughest female actors in the business, under the pressure of being nice, agreeable. I survived. Honestly, most people haven't a clue about stress. Psychologists, intellectuals, pseudo intellectuals and anti depressants; the normal stuff. Then there's the uglies, group of five males, in their twenties, noisy, obnoxious, swish iPhones, discussing females, disrespectful to almost shock, assuming I'm invisible? By all means take a break, deep breathing, forget the war, Schomo's lies, politics all. Smell the roses. At least until round two, verses Adelaide Crows, and the return of real stress, just before the crooked umpire bounces the ball, MCG, 1.45PM, March 26. But wait! Birthday Tuesday, 86. OMG. Send gifts.   


Renee Dixson Arif Hussein, Forcibly Displaced People Network, edited: "We’ve seen the Prime Minister repeatedly state that Australia’s response to the crisis in Ukraine is that of how we responded to Afghanistan. The lack of action in response to the suffering of people in Afghanistan – 1 million people have been forced to flee, and another 22 million are facing food shortage, including 1 million children who face starvation – is even more inexplicable given that Afghanistan was the longest war in our history and we made significant promises to the people of Afghanistan. We would like to see our government respond with the same proportionate urgency and compassion to people fleeing the Taliban as those impacted by the Russian invasion. We have no moral right to differentiate the suffering." [And so, so it appears, the plight of desperate Afghans is not as important as Ukranian refugees? Add in the sanctions against Russia, to extend to China if China helps Russia - like we and other countries help Ukraine. It's all above my head but I can't help thinking of cutting off my nose to spite my face?]


Assuming AFL football is played "above the shoulders" the idea of a grand final rematch as the opener to the season is not fair on the losers. On the other hand, the Western Bulldogs could not blame the umpires. As for Tom Morris and coach Luke, I'm with Luke. And enter Lady Caroline (Wilson) full of sound and fury signifying her presence, as always. The more they get (power, the football reporters) the more they want, and Morris is right up there with the worst. As for Collingwood hater (high and mighty) Mark Robinson, no need for comment. In the light of Morris's alleged disrespectful to women, a disturbing trend. 


Ross Gittens;  edited: Last week it was the flooding, before that, the distribution of COVID rapid antigen testing kits and vaccines, before that, the Black Summer bushfires, and before that, soaring prices in the National Electricity Market along with the federal Coalition’s inability to agree on action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most arise from the effects of climate change. All of them involve shared responsibility. When you’ve got one federal, two territory and six state governments, one of them has to take the lead, and the one that should do so is obvious: the feds. On climate change, it’s not just that the Morrison government has failed to do anything much to ‘‘mitigate’’ (reduce) our greenhouse gas emissions beyond belatedly accepting the target of somehow achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Until recent years, it’s been a prime responsibility of department heads and their senior people to advise the minister of looming problems and to develop detailed options on how the feds – often in partnership with the states – could go about fixing the problem. But when you tell the public servants that you want their diligent obedience, NOT their advice – as Morrison did – all you’re left with is advice from the growing number of ambitious young Liberal apparatchiks that populate ministers’ offices. ’’ The beauty of getting your advice from the young would-be pollies in your office is that, like their masters, they’re always focused on the politics of the now. [And therein lies the sad truth.]


The Saturday Paper: Edited. Richard Denniss. "Scott Morrison lies about the economy all the time. He can’t help himself. He tells big lies about transitioning away from fossil fuels and small lies about the role of his office in the way grants are directed to marginal seats. He tells strategic lies about the union movement engaging in “a campaign of extortion” to prevent medical supplies making it to Australia and he tells dumb lies about electric vehicles ruining weekends and even dumber ones denying he said that." John Hewson "Since the last election Morrison has basically pursued a pig-headed strategy from under his Doona. It is pig-headed in the sense that he is not listening to informed advice and tending to stay under the Doona as he seems incapable of genuine empathy, demonstrated most recently when he avoided walking among flood victims in Lismore. He obviously feared adverse reactions and abuse, as was the case during his disastrous visit to Cobargo after the bushfires. Just as he refused to listen to former Fire and Rescue New South Wales commissioner Greg Mullins and his Emergency Leaders for Climate Action warning about the bushfire dangers, he has ignored their flood warnings. Moreover, Morrison hasn’t acted on at least 60 of the 80 recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, which would have ensured we were better prepared for the floods. His pig-headedness has not been confined to natural disasters, either. He has demonstrated this tendency on climate more broadly and has refused to listen on childcare costs even though he saw the positive outcomes of increased support during the pandemic for families and particularly women. He has refused to adequately support the unemployed by resetting the JobSeeker payment deliberately below the poverty line. And he refused to meet with university vice-chancellors wanting to warn of the damage being done by his neglect of higher education during the pandemic. Finally, he has failed to take on board constructive suggestions regarding his proposed legislation to establish a national integrity commission. He has compounded his difficulties by always blaming others when he receives legitimate criticism – the states, the opposition, left-wing radicals, whomever. He clearly puts politics above people." [I was quite amused by the way our Scotty suggested the Albanese changes (eye glasses, weight loss) was hiding the real man. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't our Scotty do all that (the cap, the football jumper, the bonzer bloke) initially?]   


Adelaide election. Postals begin counting tomorrow, but whatever, a headache result for Morrison's lot. Expect shuffling within the federal ranks in positioning for a new leader if defeated...Bullying and Kimberly Kitching, but  was it bullying? The lady stepped outside of her party politics? Allegations of bullying by the master bullies? More dirt throwing from the Liberals, assisted by the ABC's Insiders, David Spears...."Getting more houses built is what takes the pressure off housing prices" say our Scotty, no mention of negative gearing and capital gains? Use your superannuation? - bugger the poor?... Anything Chris Ullmann says on Nine News or The Age is worth forgetting...$1.7 billion for our new art gallery, too expensive?...ADF uniforms, good for the Simpson desert, ugly elsewhere...Matthew Guy is always good for a laugh, particularly his cries on cost blowouts. We surely recall his government in 2010-2014, no cost blowouts, the Schomo principle of doing bugger all...A vote for the United Australia Party is sort of akin to telling the world you're a dickhead?...$200 reimbursement if spending $400, travel vouchers? Get real....More preferring Albo, but more the reality of NOT preferring Scotty..."There is no study that is not capable of delighting us after a little application to it." [Pope]...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯

Sunday 13th, March 2022. Bellyache issue: It seems like yesterday when a dozen COVID-19 cases would cause a panic attack, now at around 8000 cases a day, and single figure deaths and all is calm in the state of Denmark. But not where it began, China, more COVID, maybe, hopefully, on the  way out. Except for petrol prices, (never (in my years) ever - to come down; as in getting down to tin tacks. I ask a simple question - if, as Chairman Josh says "the economy is doing so well" and I'm paying more at Woolworths and for petrol and all other household bills, and no increase in my pension, who is really doing well? Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said the pre-election budget at the end of the month will contain more money and measures to support women’s economic security, safety and health. A gender-equal world, free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination, in the wind? An announcement 'fart' at best? Excuse me for being cynical. Here's another: Matthew Guy has confirmed the Coalition will support the government’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030? It's looking very much like 2022 being a world at war and promises promises, aka bull dust. War crimes a way of life? The difficulty of knowing the 'truth' and offsetting the natural implication of "jumping to conclusions." Matthew Guy added "‘‘We’re going to confront it sensibly." Another first? His mate, Shadow treasurer David Davis claimed they had either supported or not actively opposed ‘‘every’’ government bill that included climate targets. Huh? As for Defence? Apparently a new submarine base. That should put the frighteners on Russia and China. Shaking in their bloody big boots? The Liberals have the record in history for our defence capabilities, re Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan? Then came the floods, and a federal government suggesting no fault (Barnaby Joyce on the ABC'S 7.30 with Leigh Sales was embarrassingly pathetic) and relying on its national security and economic management credentials, both heavily flawed. Where's our pension increase? Sorry, mustn't be greedy. Our Prime Minister then sprouts "no time for amateurs". He should bloodywell know. Scotty, again: ‘‘We are dealing with a different climate to the one we were dealing with before. I think that’s just an obvious fact.’’ [Lordy lordy. Is the penny halfway to dropping? Chooks with their heads cut off springs to mind.] And the War? Shocking, terrible, a disaster. I wish the Ukrainians every success against Putin's mob but I find it difficult to warm towards President Zelenskyy. And so it  goes...  


Greg Chappell on Warnie, quoting Thoreau: ‘‘It’s not what you look at, it is what you see.’’ Well said Greg, the number of people quoting this "larrikin" side of Shane, in the scheme of things, an overstatement beyond my belief. Larrikin [boisterous, often badly behaved young man] can be attributed to many, male and female through those early years. Those criticising the state funeral offer beggars belief. So sad to think of the ignorance of these people. Shane, and also Rod Marsh, continued to "put in" after their cricketing careers, motivating forces to almost all of us. Ignorance is not always bliss. [The Age/ letters: "Some years ago a neighbour won a competition where the prize was to have the Victoria cricket team play in your backyard. The biggest star in that team was Shane Warne. Long after the other cricketers had fulfilled their commitment and left, Warnie was still there downing beers with the dads and tossing down leg breaks to any kid that asked. It was typical of Warnie, the kids adored him and he revelled in the idolatry. He was no saint even though he barracked for them in the AFL. Those who knew him say he had a heart of gold and that will do me."] [India's Sunil Gavaskar named Muttiah Muralitharan as a better spinner than Shane. Fair enough, he's entitled. For this he's heavily criticised. Idiots again?] Again, on Shane Warne: "Most people’s impressions of him were coloured by what they gleaned from the way the media depicted him." True enough. NOTE: Far too many Shane Warne stories the past week, most of them simply filling in newspaper space. Time to let it rest?


Waleed Aly "Back in our COVID-zero days, when it became clear that hotel quarantine was regularly leaking, the Morrison government dismissed the idea of building specialised quarantine facilities. Eventually, those quarantine leaks put cities into repeated lockdowns, and two things happened. First, state governments requested federal money – some version of JobKeeper, perhaps – to assist their locked-down citizens. The Morrison government flatly refused, then finally relented. Second, it relented on building new quarantine facilities. Now, one is finally built in Victoria, just as we’ve stopped using quarantine altogether. In both cases, the Morrison government raged in pursuit of lost causes, and contrived to get no political credit for what it finally did. I still can’t quite figure out why. Now, Morrison’s big announcement is to declare the floods in New South Wales and Queensland a national emergency – nine days into the catastrophe. In Morrison’s words, this ‘‘effectively remove[s] some red tape’’ to allow Commonwealth agencies to assist more easily. It therefore seems the right thing to do, but again raises the question of why it took so long?


Witchhunt?  Collingwood (President Jeff Browne) was the only club to receive no ‘‘variable funding’’ at all, with Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast more than $100 million ahead in total funding, and St Kilda more than $50 million ahead of the Magpies, Geelong, West Coast and Hawthorn. Browne called the AFL’s decision to remove a further $2 million from four clubs – Collingwood, West Coast, Richmond and Hawthorn – for 2022, a ‘‘dramatic overreach’’ and damning of the league’s understanding of its obligations. [And Jordan De Goey's $10,000 fine? Bleeding them dry, again. Lastly - Brayden Maynard suspended for two weeks. Never in doubt, he plays for Collingwood?] 


John Hewson. The  Saturday Paper: "It is most disappointing that natural disasters seem to bring out the best in the Australian people and the worst in our politicians and political processes. We see the enormous outpouring of goodwill from neighbours rescuing neighbours, the phenomenal clean-up and recovery efforts from the “mud army”. We see the food, clothing, accommodation and other support from charities and local governments, the generosity of public donations. And then we see our politicians: ignoring the warnings, generally slow to respond, and then denying and blame shifting on the causes of the disasters and the adequacy of the response. Our governments were poorly prepared and slow to act, but the people never gave up, arriving in tinnies, on paddleboards, whatever it took while they waited for “official” help. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk agreed, saying, “Let’s face it, it is climate change.” This view is supported by the overwhelming science that says global warming results in more extreme weather events occurring with greater frequency and severity, confirmed by the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released last week." [Says it all really.] 


Editorial, The Saturday Paper, edited: Mehdi Ali a day before the flight to the USA after 9 long years beginning age 15. “People here are not only in prison – they are in prison with no charge, no trial, no sentence,” Ali wrote a month earlier - “We are here indefinitely, to be humiliated by a system designed to crush our values, dignity and self-esteem. The worst kind of torture, in my opinion, is the kind that destroys a person’s character. This – our character – is something we have to hold on to hard.” There was no reason for Ali’s freedom, just as there was no reason for his imprisonment. The system is entirely capricious." [Not to mention the treatment of Julian Assange. Makes me wonder why our rulers hold their heads high in the field of a self-righteous conscience?]



Our nightly news, heavily overloaded of late with the war, floods and the odd stabbing. Nothing on corruption, the possibility of massive profits creating a shady nexus between developers, financiers, lobbyists and local and state governments?...Q: When is something that isn’t government spending still government spending? A: when it’s a tax break. The near invisibility of tax expenditures is that it allows recipients to delude themselves – and others – that they’re not dependent on government handouts...Sammy J ABC breakfast ratings 11/3. Last, deservedly...Peter Dutton: “We have to look at the positives”. He cited the 113 people who were rescued by the military. He said he “wasn’t going to cop criticism of the ADF”. The criticism, of course, was not of the soldiers but of him for failing to show executive initiative more quickly. [Morrison had promised and delivered a giant planeload of weapons and aid to Ukraine in less time than it had taken for the Australian Defence Force to be sent in worthwhile numbers to an Australian disaster.]... Climate change believers, our Liberal Victorian opposition?...In late 2019 this federal government set up a $4 billion Emergency Response Fund with the promise to spend $200 million a year from the interest earned on mitigation and relief measures. Despite earning almost $1 billion in interest, nothing has been spent?...Yet again, and not unexpected, The Age editorials calling Anthony Albanese to account. Fairness? No bloody fear...Morrison on Lismore ‘‘Every federal government would always be apologetic, and would always apologise that you’re never going to be able to provide enough support in these situations,’’ Obviously a political 'sorry' never from the heart....Ban fast food advertising on public transport? For the love of God, shut the #% up....I reach 86 in 9 days. Everything is temporary? Re-incarnation?...When is International Mens' Day?..."Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me." Yeah? Tell that to Scotty and Peter Dutton, better still, tell it to our Australian soldiers...Crypto currency, double dutch?.."He deservedly loses his own property who covets that of another." [Phaedrus]...I call this column A Grain of Salt but surely the real grains of salt comes from the mouth of our Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg...Finally, A who's who at the MCG for Shane Warne's state funeral, father of the year, not quite, but for we fans a "not to be missed" television event...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.




A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯

Sunday 6th, March 2022. Ever the search for good news, presently in overdrive. A huge thunder clap 2am Saturday seemingly rocked my bedroom. And Shane Warne, cricketer, bowler supreme, our loss, has gone to God, to partner another star, Rod Marsh. Back of the thunder we have COVID, delta, omicron, the sadness of the mysterious rain bomb, Queensland/NSW floods, and Russia's Paranoid Putin killing thousands of innocent people, and our scheming Prime Minister Scotty in Covid-19 isolation. As the great Bill Lawry would say many times "It's all happening." I've written about my once mighty magpies for years, but Shane's passing is a different sadness. As a cricketer, a commentator, a legend, it's hard to take. A performer mainly, head and shoulders above the rest. We all have our points of view but my regret is for Shane's passing, (aside from friends and relatives) alongside John Clarke's passing five years past. Two amazing personalities now gone forever. So difficult to move on, but move on we must. We live in a world more than half full of conspiracy theories. Some are blaming the floods on the lack of warning? Hard to believe, warnings multiple the past decade. Is there no room for science with this government?  If you believe in democracy can it be extended to you’re either with us or against us? I don’t see it. I’m for the stay out option, neutral. There was never a doubt on the evil of the Russian attack, but Ukraine’s attack on the countries to prove their support is a bridge too far. Who believes what? There's so many dickheads questioning everything, what hope have we got to sift through to something vaguely called reality. Whose reality? Boris Johnson accused of not doing enough. Who decides what is enough? OK, so they are saying Putin is an animal. No problem, but why must I join in the march? Is there a difference between being 90% rather than the demanding 100%? May I lead the life of most of us, a day to day thing, a quiet beer, or must I have a noisy beer? I copped this with Lindy Chamberlain! I missed the (seemingly entitled) Stan Grant censorship/eviction of Mr Gillies-Lekakis on the ABC's Q&A because I make a point on not watching anything with Stan at the head, a master of 'jumping to conclusions' -  his conclusions as the correct conclusions? I watch SBS World News and wonder at how this show filled in it's news hour before the Putin crisis? The commercials, Dove soap, Bega cheese, AAMI, and savoury shapes. I tried a movie, Jason Bourne and Tommy Lee Jones, heard the line "copy that" 1000 times, in between the car chases and slick killers. Fantasy nonsense, but is it? Switch to Agatha Christie's Poirot movie, and temporary serenity? Is there any good news coming? We can only hope, head down, bum up. Phew.


From the Experts: John Hewson, The Saturday Paper: "I am finding it difficult to accept that Scott Morrison is now so desperate to win a second term he is prepared to run a scare campaign in an attempt to frighten voters on national security, clearly against reason, hoping to wedge Anthony Albanese and the opposition. This is reckless, the worst sort of opportunism, placing his personal interests ahead of our nation at a time of such significant uncertainty here and globally, and perhaps doing irreparable damage in the longer term."Paul Bongiorno, The Saturday Paper: "Morrison and his treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, have squirrelled away a record $16 billion for an avalanche of announcements in the run-up to the election. There is more than enough there to make a dent in the flood damages bill, but they didn’t offer it. Palaszczuk won’t be the only premier pointing out her citizens are also Morrison’s voters." [Maybe, expect the Russia Ukraine situation and Scotty's 'security' (full on) to hide the numerous blemishes; fickle, forgetful, frightened voters?]


From the vault, in desperation: What's the worst thing about our democracy? Elected neanderthals obviously, but thankfully, in keeping with our everyday lifestyle we 'get on with our life' as the majority of like minded people do the world over; we being those 95% or higher, despite those in power wanting more power and more land and more gold, as they've done since Adam popped out from a mystery tummy. We note our bleeding, cigarette prices in the guise of goodness, an alcohol tax, a gambling tax. We get on. After World War 2 we had Korea, then Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, seemingly the forever ongoing struggles between the Israelis and Palestinians. There never is a war to end all wars, so best we put our two bob's worth in at the ballot box and make the best of what's in our sights. Here on the Mornington Peninsula there's a concern for three story buildings popping up, not to mention dog poo. All relative. The government ‘respects’ the decision of the Fair Work Commission, when it suits them. Add underemployment, stagnating wages and the polls results, seen in their true light. No wonder we like our sport. 


Recalling the types who made it a business to dodge their shout, their round. Yet another of my human nature fascinations. For what purpose? To dodge your turn to shout and the certain risk of a reputation for being a tightwad, forever?...Are you an anti-vaxxer quoting ‘‘freedom’’. Sorry pal, you're a dickhead...Petrol prices up, blame Russia. No, the oil companies, in anticipation as per usual...Victorian Labor’s $800 million social housing tax, 1.75% levy killed in the face of stern opposition by the Libs and the property lobby. Sad, disgraceful, political....And at the federal level, wages policy, childcare, housing, health, indefinite detention and education - to the backline...No surprise Peter Hartcher The Age comes down hard on China during the Russian debacle... The Foo Fighters? - Phooey...Niki Savva far and away a star for the Melbourne Age newspaper... "You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another" [Ernest Hemmingway] - remembering those people who left Victoria's Danny Andrew's iron curtain the past 2 years to places north; Queensland/New South Wales.....Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen. And so to the 1953 movie and the boy calling, as Alan Ladd rides away...Shane Shane...








A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ€”

Sunday 27th, February, 2022. China, Russia, Joe Biden, Schomo and blue heeler Dutton, combining to turn us into nervous Nellies, thankfully not all of us, yet. Many are selling, high property prices, moving to Rye, Beechworth, Burleigh Heads and the possibility of Melbourne a ghost city? Schomo waits on a good result in South Australia (March) before he announces the election day. What's more important, using fear as a political promise or climate action, Integrity Commission, Aged care, tax concessions by the rich for the rich? Not to mention ASIO's Mike Burgess warning, seconded by former ASIO chief Dennis Richardson. Can't help thinking Schomo's prayers answered, banking on war, Russia and Ukraine, with a dash of suspected follow on conflict between China and Taiwan, obviously not enough to stop our iron ore imports to China, but  enough for Scotty to call out China for not calling out Russia. 


Vladimir Putin's egomaniacal war on Ukraine. Unjustified. A crisis, and for us, a test. Will Putin back off, will we stay out, what good the sanctions? Thugs and bullies they may well be, but do we need a PM salivating as the leader of the pack, a street fighter quick to include China, a version of music man without class, resubmitting his early call to investigate the causes of COVID for political purposes. There’s no over the rainbow with our testosterone over flowing PM as leader, subtlety, diplomacy, lost in favour of cunning. "If they don't like it, that's tough" says Scotty. We may not know too much about Albanese under pressure but as it stands he has to be better than this loudmouth. The bigger problem perhaps, though hard to believe, is so many Australian voters believing his cunning. Not so surprising? The Murdoch clan (Sky News simply a 24-hour advertisement for the Liberal Party), Costello at The Age cheering him on in between the lines, also YouTube and Facebook. The faint squarks from the ABC (funding cuts or concerted attacks by competing media outlets, accusing them of being either apologists for the government or of running a “left-wing” agenda) and SBS World News, bound for fairness, which includes our Scotty front and centre with quiet supporting words from little Albo, in view of the upcoming election not daring to give the attack dog more ammunition. Labor has a nine-point lead over the Liberals as the party better placed to build a relationship with China in Australia’s interests. A taste of the hidden truths maybe on the ABC’s excellent Mad as Hell but who watches, and of course under the umbrella, protection, of satire. Glory bloody be. Morrison is pinning his political hopes on using the deteriorating security situation in Eastern Europe and ongoing brawl with China to claim better national security credentials than Labor. The Coalition hopes national security – and not the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the religious discrimination bill - a private member’s bill from one of his senators. The bill would ensure the right of sporting clubs to discriminate against transwomen, and the cancelling of the MRH-90 helicopters program and the cancelling of the French Attack-class submarines – at an undisclosed cost – will dominate voters’ sentiment as they cast their ballots. Paul Keating once said leadership was about two things: imagination and courage. And so it goes…Oh, add in the refugees locked up for some 9 years by this government, and - surely an election issue - aged care, and the vaccine rollout, the climate change response, and the dreaded women’s issues et al.  


From the vault: Are you a member of the “We know best” society? Their no smoking results over the past 10 years has the ultimate aim of banning smoking everywhere, other than in an outside Loo located at least 100 metres from any property or roadway. Television shows? Members available on call on any subject, from compulsory sun protection in all schools, banning cutting branches off trees, banning dog stools, banning neighbours who leave their blue bins out too long. They invade the internet, invade the suburbs they move into. Further aims include compulsory daily walks, no alcohol until age 21, compulsory weight loss (a favourite), and others yet to be announced. Even the Anglicans are in on it, with a register of workers who cheat on their spouses? On marriage: [Male] Why are married women heavier than single women? [Female] Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge. 


Our government designates the political wing of Hamas as a terrorist organisation, no mention of Amnesty International identifying Israel's control over its Palestinian population as a form of apartheid? Follow the Yanks? Again I ponder, if Russia’s President says Ukraine is part of Russia’s ‘‘spiritual space’’ (read justification?) and the West strenuously opposes, why do we allow the same feelings for  Israel? A weird situation. We have Marise Payne urging Moscow to step back, Joe Biden looking more like an escapee from an aged care home and Scott Morrison (narcissism before altruism) doing his deliberate best interpretation of Donald Trump. Illegal and morally reprehensible, like Iraq? 


Penny Wong for Assistant Prime Minister?...This current idea of the ABC being hijacked by the left is plainly a case of bias gone haywire. True, a few goody two shoes, mainly females, but a cursory look will suffice to see a conservative approach a mile away from a leftist point of view. Do not be sucked in by the odd complaint, particularly from others who watch 7,9,10 and Sky without a worry. A slow funding burn by Scotty's mob, despite the promise of millions if re-elected..."I will  win" said Albo.  A shade early China; China in this situation meaning mate..."I know how to stand up to thugs and bullies" said our PM in his comforting diplomatic way. Takes one to know one on the bully front. Manufacturing a provocation for a justification? Where have I heard this before?...Practical tips to make the dollar go further from Nine News, so sweet...Darcy Moore as a Collingwood vice-captain. Hopefully this will allow him to keep an eye on his opponents in addition to his usual half dozen flashy clearances every match...President Joe Biden - if Russia launches a military attack on Ukraine (40 million) America will not defend it. Hey, we only have 26 million?...I last watched Neighbours way back in 2003, for the one episode, the night before the day I was to work on the show...Political donations laws; always a whitewash...Another AFL season looms and if you believe the newspapers there's some 18 teams in the mix. Hope springs eternal..."Ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wing which with we fly to heaven." [Shakespeare]...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’”

Sunday 20th, February, 2022. Deflections, deflections and climate change (climate what?), COVID, aged care to the backline. A rare piece of honesty from Barnaby Joyce on our Prime Minister: “How he earnestly rearranges the truth to a lie”. Not long now, the May federal election and a line-up of politicians adept at the non sequitur. Scotty, Pete and Josh sticking it up Albo, clearly a left wing Labor man (despite the glasses, and other physical adjustments) but going full steam at Albanese as a China sympathiser, buggering up our reputation internationally and clearly showing just what this evil trio really think of the Australian voter, cattle for the culling, bipartisanship to the doghouse. An election on national security, not forgetting the law and order nonsense, is a barefaced con. Our ASIO chief on TV; two appearances in swisho outfits to curb the waters, apolitical (not interested or involved in politics?) so he says, a curly one for mine? What's more important (to name only three) the aged-care crisis, the Religious Discrimination Bill, climate change -  or to wedge Albo? I get this image of a young smart-arse bully shooting his mouth off at others because he knows the big bully will protect him. Problem is the smart-arse can drag us all into dangerous waters. Early days yet for Albanese, but repeating Morrison's dumb Manchurian Candidate claim (sucked in?) was not a good sign, no doubt noticed by the bully boys trio, likely to produce more temptations. Clearly politics of deflection, and a long list of said deflections, hopefully part panic, presently the three (plus the Murdoch clan) against one and still searching for a newborn star to support Albo; Kristina Keneally?    


It can take almost a lifetime to find the real cause of one's handicaps. I did not realise it at the time, spending those last four years of World War 2 as a schoolboy, under I now understand to be considerable stress, insomnia and developmental delays. No National taskforce, no paediatricians that I can recall, not to mention ageing teachers brought out of retirement and classes of some 40 boys and girls. An epiphany? [Or perhaps my extra dry satire?]


Letters, Susan Constable, The Age:  "Authentic leaders have no need for miracles; they have a vision, purpose and a plan. Authentic leaders confront and approach crises; they do not avoid them and blame others. Authentic leaders do not pull political stunts like washing a young woman’s hair in a salon, being a passenger in a Bathurst supercar or playing the ukulele around the kitchen table for a curated TV interview. Authentic leaders have no need for empathy consultants and to curry favour with anti-vaxxers. Authentic leaders truly believe and show that they “carry the hose” for all." [I like the 'blame others'. No shame, even his  wife? Clear enough?]


A weird mob? Australian captain Tim Paine and alleged complaints of sexual harassment and a photograph of a penis in 2017. I've been on Facebook since it began, (very) occasionally female private parts sent, deleted/blocked, the assumption of the need (hope?) for money as motivation, but a male to send a penis, certainly not for money, as a pathetic attempt to excite, one assumes, but surely not motivation, an incomprehensible mystery. No criticism intended. It takes all types. One can find love in Glory, but for mine, Harry's owner has a problem?


I listen to 3AW mornings, Ross Stevenson and Russell Howcroft. No fan of Howcroft A- Z opinions unlimited, but I like Ross and cannot stand the ABC's Sammy J. Sort of lose interest after 8am but leave it as background while reading The Age online. My ears prick up when Neil Mitchell comes on after 8.30. Sure enough as openers he's criticising either federal Labor or Danny Andrews, so a prompt to turn his nonsense off, back to the ABC, Virginia. Is Mitchell related to Chris Uhlmann? If nothing else, both are consistent.


My warning last week to watch Nine's 60 minutes. As expected, the good bonser bloke et al, but there's more? Wow, out of the blue, so to speak: Confessing he had worn out the carpet on his side of the bed at the Lodge from kneeling to pray for Australians. Give me a break. Watching Bill Shorten dancing was embarrassing enough, likewise Scotty's guitar work. Overflowing surfeit of bull dust?  


1994/1995...PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE by Steve Martin, directed by Neil Armfield, with Shane Bourne, Deborah Kennedy, Jeremy Sims (and David Field and Jacek koman), Nicholas Bufalo, Tyler Coppin, Jane Borghesi, Richard Piper (and Warren Coleman and Paul Blackwell) and Alex Menglet (and John Gaden). Designed by Stephen Curtis, lighting by Rory Dempster. Playbox @ the Malthouse. Picasso was a tour de force, to put it mildly. 200 performances, mainly full houses and consistent great reviews. Great cast. The Melbourne International Festival, to the Adelaide festival, to 16 weeks in Sydney (often 7 shows a week, an 8pm and 10.30pm Fridays) overall 4 productions ending in a NSW country tour, the final performance in Lismore, NSW. The Melbourne cast members generally stayed in Kings Cross accomodation, closer to Belvoir Street theatre. The beauty of almost every day at Manly beach until 6pm, a preferred freedom despite the increased cost and longer travel time. I came out of it all about even financially but for me, the importance of lifestyle as always ever present. A beautiful relationship with almost all of the cast, particularly Tyler Coppin and Jane Borghesi. Lots off stories, lots of discussions, lots of pizzas, a few beers. I could write 10,000 words, but no need. Better to leave it as a beautiful memory. Lucky me. 


The Duke of York escapes in a private settlement via the royal millions, an expensive single 'naughty'? Said one seemingly important lady "The public have a right to know." Why? I'm not a royalist and no time for Prince Charles, a died in the wool borne to rule man, but a feeling of sorrow for the Duke, hypocrisy gone haywire. What did he do wrong to have to pay twice, and cop the royal watcher's wrath?...Could politicians please stop calling us 'ordinary' Australians...Clive Palmer's United Australia Party, United Rich Kids. Who votes for them? One assumes the copy Trump protesters?...4 Corners on our ABC featuring undecided voters, at best a cheap copy of A Current Affair. Not good enough... Scotty suggests the aboriginal people should say "I forgive you" to the English invaders way back in the 1788's. Cheeky bugger?... Kaushaliya Vaghela, dumped as a Labor candidate for the November election. A woman scorned?...Another of my loves bites the dust. Sarah Hanson-Young engaged. Sadly, forgive, forget?...Let's hear it for those responsible Yanks, (consultation, discussion, negotiation, compromise?) keeping a close eye on Russia, similar to Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan?...Missed the half time entertainment at Super Bowl LV1, lucky me?...Albo tells the anti-vaccine protesters to go home while Scotty tells them to blame the state premiers?...It's the Mum's you have to watch out for, particularly after 3pm if you're thinking of a quick visit to Woolworths. Big cars, quick decisions, zoom...No Russian attack to date. Yanks, Scotty, Pete, Josh, disappointed? But wait, the laser beam yesterday, a ray of hope beam?..."Time, with its mighty strides, will soon reach a future generation, and leave the present in death and in forgetfulness behind it." [Chalmers]...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Sunday 13th, February, 2022. Triptych, from the Greek, three-fold. In 2020 I listed Kathy Jackson, Crown Casino Sydney and Josh Frydenburg, later Morrison, Frydenburg and Gregory Hunt, today, locked in, it's Morrison, Dutton and the ambitious Frydenburg. Has the power gone to their heads? Let the games begin? A parliament apology to victims of harassment and bullying, words my friends, just words. Brittany's case still to be proved? Can someone kindly explain the vaccine mandates to the 10,000 dickheads outside parliament house in Canberra? But who, certainly not Scotty, conveniently (again) shifting the blame to the states, again political? Where the Yanks go we, the sheep, follow, our very own Trump supporters? Nine News, and all about the re-election of Scotty and the evils of Albo, including Scotty commercials on why he's such a bonser bloke. Watch 60 Minutes to confirm? It has almost become fashionable to lie, to the point it's expected, even if it's the truth. What does this say about our present government, inarticulate, some of our federal ministers, and apart from Peter Dutton's army, a public service cut to the bone in favour of consultants, a gold mine for the favoured few. A long-promised federal integrity commission being established by May will not happen, if indeed it happens (with  teeth) by 2025 and a Bill of Rights never. Senator Cash indicated with only three sitting days for the Senate before the expected May election, the government was unlikely to waste effort on legislating the body or class actions reforms. The government’s more pressing priorities, supposedly, being religious freedom laws and changing privacy laws to help combat online abuse. I'm surprised the lady mouthpiece (a puppet on a string) clearly in need of voice production lessons, says anything, in hiding surely? As for Morrison's savage treatment? He trampled colleagues Julia Banks and Bridget Arthur and had no compunction in humiliating Christine Holgate in a parliamentary tirade when she was CEO at Australia Post. I wouldn't go so far as saying he doesn't warm to females, but it's fairly clear his level of control varies when opposed or even questioned by a female. He has three particular looks when questioned in public, the (badly hidden) pain in the bum look, the half smile to replace his superior look, and of course his warmth when listening to a question from a supporter. As for world famous promoter of fear tactics, Peter Dutton and his national security attack, it's all about politics, also ambitious, you better believe it. Maybe they can smell the carcass?


ASIO boss Mike Burgess revealed the plot in his annual threat assessment on Wednesday night, but he declined to name the country behind the operation and whether it was a federal, state or local election. Conclusion? Australia’s national security agencies fear a Chinese businessman who set up a sophisticated spy ring to get Labor candidates elected in the coming federal election still feels emboldened to interfere??? Why now Mike Burgess? You're the expert, the advantage of a Labor victory...or the opposite?


The Age: Hogwash? "Kissing evolved out of literal hunger and, today, a kiss provides the chance to satiate a hunger for something else: intimacy, information about someone we like and an expression of fuzzy feelings. It’s one of the first explorations of a potential partner, a moment that can transport us to a state of wondrous oblivion. Or expel us into aversion. It also lowers cortisol, relieving stress, a form of exercise, boosting our feel-good chemicals whenever we do it, and lowering our stress levels. The more we do it, the better it is for us – and for our relationships." Depends where you kiss?


The Age: Anson Cameron: "In a tree-lined amphitheatre such as Lorne almost everyone is annoyed by a bluegum blocking his or her otherwise perfect ocean view. ‘‘If that gum in Brendan’s garden suddenly took ill and keeled over we’d be able to see Aireys and our place would be worth $200,000 more than it is now. Bloody Brendan.’’ It’s a common enough thought. To the type of person bent on control, a tree blocking their view becomes an insult, an outrage, an incursion, an enemy. For some, ownership isn’t constrained by fences and titles." It happens everywhere, as I discovered years ago in Rye, and similarly perplexed. Years of looking and  empty balconies? 


Last we forget, from Craig Horne, edited: "The last time the jobless rate had a 3 in front of it was in the mid-70s. But it should not be taken at face value. In 1974-75 a job meant tenured employment, holiday pay, sick pay and in most cases superannuation. In 1974 more than 50 per cent of the workforce belonged to a union and received regular wage increases arbitrated at the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and most workers could afford to buy a home in one of the growing suburbs of our capital cities. Today to be employed is to work more than one hour every week and a vast number of new jobs are contracted or casual and are without the benefit of holiday or sick pay. Less than 17 per cent of workers belong to a union and so we now have a sector of the workforce referred to as the ‘‘working poor’’ who struggle to find money for rent and for whom home ownership remains an impossible dream." Lest we forget.


May we travel back to 1977, when Prime Minister John Howard gave providers self-regulation in nursing homes, and stuffed the whole system up in favour of buddies profits?.....The Russians say they wont invade Ukraine, the newspapers the past 10 days - "within days" the Yanks are at the ready, just in case. And if the Russians go home, credit to the Yanks, etc etc...The National Press Club; Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins on display. Brrr...Nice to see Michaelia (who probably should consider a career move as one of those females in the Jason Bourne movies) bob her head up from her hiding place. Attorney-General Michaelia Cash says, ‘‘striking the balance between any individual’s right to want to change their sexual identity and other parents’ and children’s wishes to go to a single sex school must be sensitively managed’’. See? Sensitivity, the darling lady.... Religious discrimination bill, the problem of some schools maintaining their 'religious values' beliefs, never a chance with these hypocrites, bigotry in action?...Re-arranging? When you walk into the ballot box and you vote for Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party, that’s what you get. And then you’ve got to live with it......Promises promises. $3.3 billion to our ABC, when?...It has a ring to it, the Defence Force to clean up our aged care problems, signifying nothing...The Duchess of Cornwall will be crowned Queen Camilla when Prince Charles ascends to the throne, how utterly sweet, kind of like the skeleton of Lady Diana?...What comes first, a Collingwood premiership, or a Bill of Rights? Easy peasy, the mighty magpies ...Needs must? "The most manifest sign of wisdom is continued cheerfulness." [Montaigne]...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ€”

Sunday 6th, February, 2022. It's all about integrity, specifically the lack thereof. Albo to win, unless the Libs awake and  replace him with Josh? Surely not. I see our Prime Minister as a loser come the federal election, but whatever the result he wins anyway. Honest, competent, compassionate, not at home your worship. From the moment he became the Minister for Social Services way way back he's been conning us, a lump of coal in parliament notwithstanding. And so we pay him for the rest of his natural life. Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the National Press Club on Tuesday, theoretically the beginning of the campaign for re-election, avoiding responsibility for various failures and declaring yet again that he had a plan, including an insulting $800 handout to aged care workers, not for all aged workers, only for some? A master of re-arranging the truth to service his preferences? Caught red handed with a twitter post, no big deal, more a case of Scotty keeping his cool. Nobody, surely, believes he tells the truth? On the other hand who does, tell the truth? One can see most of Morrison's reactions (particularly when receiving a question from a female, haha Laura Tingle, good stuff), clearly our PM would never have made it as a stage actor, murder mysteries in particular. Undeclared donations in the millions, shonky religious discrimination. Not forgetting we (I?) thought Billy Shorten was a shoe in last time, so cautious, hopeful. One very short posting this week, until we receive more information on who loves who among the right wing politicians, other than the obvious truth of trusting almost nobody. Fun and (bloody) games. Still another three months of this nonsense to suffer, the main interest being how Albo Albanese shapes up when the pendulum swings to "Get albo"! Bring on AFL football, men.   


Ross Gittins: “Neoliberalism has weakened our public, health, education, aged care, transport and housing sectors by allowing private companies to control the market in a distorted manner for their own benefit’’. Spot on  as always. From Letters: "Despite the malignant tenures of Howard, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison, most of us want action on climate change, political integrity, gender equality and Indigenous rights. We want more spent on education, health and unemployment support, and we don’t want tax cuts. Now Morrison is trying to remake Australia in his image: vacuous condescension, cringeworthy appeal to dinkum males, and toe-curling incuriosity. In the next election let’s vote according to the better angels of our nature."


1988: I record this, from amongst my files - for posterity. 1988. Automatic Totalisators Limited:Retirement of the over 65’s. A farewell night at Moonee Valley racecourse - 31/3/88. Namely Les Biro, Mavis Cree, Win Foley, John French, Ralph Gauci, Nan Hayle, Reg Howe, Betty Linklater, Mena Morris, Bonnie Perrett, Kevin Sharkey, John Tell, Jim Wilson, Stan Wynack, Marge Wynack, Vonnie Lorbach and Dan McCabe - totalling some 400 years service. Tony Manion attended, and Jennifer Ellen and Ella Bambery performed a sketch written by Cliff Ellen. The TAB takeover was on December 1st. 57 years of ATL. Managers Arnold Raymond, Tony Manion, Bruce Rutter, Peter Kenyon, Frank Dowdle, Harry Lane - and at the provincial and country tracks George King and Robin Bone. In the ATL Office - Ron Prior, Bill Campbell, Maureen, Noelene, and Kevin Moulds. And the workers - Ailsa Tandy, Jim & Kevin Whelan, Rossy Baker, Mitch & Nan Hale, Tom Burgess, Molly Seeney, Joyce & Lorraine, Cora Hunter, Betty Bennetts, Val Farrell, lovely Lil Whiteman, Jackie Elliot, Rose McCalman, Norm Chamberlain, Alan Greening, Margaret James, Betty Mitchel, Pat Welsh, Ashley. Government inspectors Doc Mannix and Malcolm.


Posterity 2: I say again? Looking back: I wrote to the great Gough Whitlam in the 70‘s asking why he supported Indonesia's takeover of East Timor. Days later Gough telephoned, carefully explaining his reasoning. True. He caught me off guard, unprepared, my letter on file. Short term, and in that moment, I agreed to disagree, overcome (for once?) in Gough being on the other end of my telephone line. We who lived through those years were so very lucky. Gough stood head and shoulders (literally and spiritually) above everyone. He was our star, our inspiration, our hope, by a mile. “Optimism, enthusiasm and confidence against fear, prejudice and conformity”. At Gough’s memorial service Graham Freudenberg said “never more than now”. Eventually another arrived, in the form of Bob Hawke. I say again! 


The honourable Richard Colbeck is our Minister for the Arts. Surely an insult to all artists, not to mention his aged care responsibilities; ditto Michaelia  Cash as our Attorney-General, merely a plant?...News flash - Barnaby Joyce gets it right, truth, a first: ‘‘I have never trusted him and I dislike how he earnestly rearranges the truth to a lie.’’...Justin Langer departs as coach of our  national cricket team, and apart from continued use of the word 'micromanagement' we know nothing as to why?...Decluttering according to an ABC (never-ending?) expert is very good for your mental health and your moods?...I'll go with the philosophical; forgive and forget or learn from the past?...Seriously, Medvedev, two sets up and up 40/love in a third set break, and complains about losing? Crying in his $1.57 million runner up prize?... And the Ash Barty final; should have (sadly) been best of 5 sets.....Rabble: "They condemn what they do not understand" Cicero. "A hundred mouths a hundred tongues, And throats of brass inspired with iron lungs" Virgil...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.





A Grain of Salt. 2022.😎😘

Sunday 30th January, 2022. Dylan Alcott is the 2022 Australian of the year. Good luck to the man, clearly a safe choice in this federal election year after the challenging Grace Tame, always a problem, Grace being a female who dares to question our Scotty? There was no Australia Day in my first 50 years, maybe an Empire Day snuck in there at times, but even back when, always political. Of course it's a load of nonsense, particularly the union jack in our flag in this day and age. Young and free perhaps, or spied on via Peter Dutton's mob? Remember when we frowned on the Chinese gestapos for spying on their own people? Power and politics, hand in glove. Can the pandemic curb these mongrels, nah, can global warming? Eventually, the last gasp? They all drown with their pockets full of moola? Maybe I can whip up to Mount Kosciuszko and watch them? Sorry, there I go dreaming again. Back to the business, Albanese. OK, governments usually lose elections and oppositions don’t win them, but Albo? There's a long list of wrongs against our Scotty but trust Murdoch and his social media clout, never forgetting Costello, as they splatter goodwill laced with half truths and various cash promises IF re-elected. And whose to notice this less than subtle brainwashing with the third jab, possibly a fourth on our minds, and 5000 sincere epidemiologists to gum up the works? A couple of pots of Carlton Draught a day, wash my hands, skip the news bulletins, apart from SBS World News, and with it the possibility of staying sane, assuming I ever was. The big cash grants announcements yet again, recalling the bushfires monies and the great barrier reef previous announcement, almost all still in federal coffers, NOT spent. Scotty Morrison: Not only cunning but having his mates at The Age to repeat it in its editorial -  “We’re now in a stage of the pandemic where you can’t just make everything free because, when someone tells you they want to make something free, someone’s always going to pay for it, and it’s going to be you”. Two or three announcements along this "going to be you" line and enter the now brainwashed undecided along with the usual 10%, now approaching 20% dickheads and Houston - Albo in trouble. We give him credit for his promise of a National Integrity Commission, indeed, on that alone Albo has my vote, albeit I'm residing in what's been Greg Hunt Land forever. In view of the past 2 draining years I have a personal preference as in hoping for big improvements on our public health system. And now the stealth variant? We wait patiently for the May election, again wondering if this mob will pull off a swifty to postpone the so-called inevitable election deadline. Perhaps a shade far fetched, and yet, I wouldn't trust him or his mates as far as I could pee. Mind you, his other buddies, Dutton and Frydenberg, are almost equally loose with the truth. Add in the $50 million to save our koala bears (but nothing to stop cutting their homes from under them?) - and so it goes...


At my age something 'to keep me busy' becomes a necessity. Gardening? Sadly no. I can get down (slowly) but a big problem getting up, physically and mentally? Television free to air and the continued repeats on foxtel is mainly rubbish, apart from AFL football which costs more, thus eating in to my smoko allowance. Friends have mostly left the building. Politics currently the worst set of greenies/greedies since William McMahon. Another dreaded year for Collingwood supporters? Problems, no more than most, other than nonplussed how someone like Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer and other weirdo types have so many followers, even allowing for those contributors to the Herald Sun 'Your Say' pages. I was offered a chap's Herald Sun only yesterday, after he had read it; accepted in good grace, chucked it later, washed my hands thoroughly on arrival at my hacienda. It's the weather, the humidity. Press on McDuff? 


What's the worst thing about our democracy? Elected self interested neanderthals obviously, but thankfully, in keeping with our everyday lifestyle we 'get on with our life' as the majority of like minded people do the world over; we being those 90% or higher, despite those in power wanting more power and more land and more gold, as they've done since Adam popped out from a mystery tummy. We note our bleeding, cigarette prices in the guise of goodness, an alcohol tax, a gambling tax. We get on. After World War 2 we had Korea, then Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, Iraq, Afghanistan, now Syria Yemen and seemingly the forever ongoing struggles between the Israelis and Palestinians. There never is a war to end all wars, so best we put our two bob's worth in at the ballot box and make the best of what's in our sights. Here on the Mornington Peninsula there's a concern for three story buildings popping up, not to mention dog poo and a Council into politics. All relative. The government ‘respects’ the decision of the Fair Work Commission, when it suits them. Add underemployment, stagnating wages and the polls results, seen in their true light. No wonder we like our sport, Ash Barty. 


Sydney journalist Peter FitzSimons spruiking his realities on what not to eat and others consistently singing the same song, explaining their former wayward years heavily into superfluous indulgences in eating choices and on the scales at 100+ kilos, to their now sensible weight due to their current types of food not to eat. Skiting no less, achievements? Give me a break. Their choices of foods or greedy guts? Frozen meals, fish and chips, soft drinks, beer. I eat what suits, sugar, salt, beer whatever, as do the many, following extensive RSL research. 'Elegant sufficiency' as my old man used to suggest when I pleaded for a second helping after a humungous first helping of steamed pudding with hot mira plum jam. 'Less activity with the tongue and more activity with the knife and fork' Dad would advise. Give your opinions, but please, do not hold it up as the only way to a healthy life. "Gluttony is the source of all our infirmities, and the fountain of all our diseases. As a lamp is choked by a superabundance of oil, a fire extinguished by excess of fuel, so is the natural heat of the body destroyed by intemperate diet" [Burton]. Eat, drink and gamble responsibly. And lots of fish oil pills? 


1977 gave me the opportunity to have my first play produced at La Mama. No Worries, which was part of a double bill with the most excellent two-hander Norm and Ahmed, by Alex Buzo, directed by Mark Callan. Two plays, two parts, one following the other, vastly different roles. We performed Norm and Ahmed in the carpark adjoining the theatre in Faraday Street after an inside performance of No Worries. There was a pub across the road, and every performance around 10.15 out poured the drunks, headlights shinning on the carpark, horns blasting, and some drunk gatecrashers. One such drunk journeyed onto the stage during one performance after I had hit Ahmed and he lay on the ground. The drunk then offered me a swig of his whisky, assuming I was one of ‘his mob’, and started a conversation rubbishing dark skinned foreigners, which he took Ahmed (Bruce Kerr) to be. I managed to talk him away after around 5 minutes, the real difficulty being to remember which part of the play we were at when the yobbo intervened. Mark was one tough director, insisting I play the part “his way”. We had one or two screaming matches but Mark won out in the end. I disagreed with his interpretation in spite of good reviews. One of the toughest jobs in acting is coming to terms with the director’s point of view if you see the role differently. A minefield balancing act. No Worries went well, though obviously not in the same class as Norm and Ahmed. Directed by Bruce Kerr the cast included Jack Mobbs, Sue Jones, Liddy Clark, Richard Dawson and (daughter) Jennifer Ellen. Jack and Richard were a joy to work with, if a trifle inexperienced.  


On armament sales via Biden, and/or Putin? In the words of Comanche Ten Bears to Josey Wales "Our government has double tongue" As someone else said "A fog of information."...My favourite is when someone opens up with "Let's face it", meaning he/she has decided whatever is to follow is the reality, often including meaningful words like absolutely, exactly right, and inevitably, awesome?...Comedy, Liberal supporters unhappy with Grace Tame; brainwashed?...Tennis, the good, the bad, and the ugly, the latter referring to the 'toffee-nosed'.....Finally, this mob can punish foreign individuals without going near a court, adding to our treatment of the refugees under Scott Morrison...Boris Pasternak: 'Like a beast on the pen I'm cut off From my friends, freedom, the sun. But the hunters are gaining ground. I've nowhere else to run.'... I bid a loving farewell to a lifelong best friend in Graham Campbell, former Fitzroy champion rover in the VFL. A decade, beginning as 8 year olds, 24 hours a day, every day; well done mate...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2022. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’”

Sunday 23rd January, 2022. Australia Day looms, followed very probably by the conclusion of an anxious and miserable Summer of denial, add in Autumn, flat wages and cost of living increases? Scott Morrison, the master of Patriotism, (recognition to the First Australians? not bloody likely), the last refuge and so on. Am I warped, getting there? Still managing to keep away from the masses on vitamin pills and now, again, fish oil pills? Can you believe it? On the other hand the strong likelihood of coming to terms with myself, as in dried up, written and verbal. I listen, little choice, the passing parade in the restricted area of the smoking section, Rye RSL, daily, my two pots of Carlton Draught. Alone, in the corner, almost my table/spot. A point? Yes. So one lady (a lady or a man no difference) is talking COVID, taxes, her daughter's plight, omicron, politics, a large glass half full, facts and   gossip, and the listener (either sex) is half agreeing, also half full. Neither is listening to the other, both intent on letting it all out. No, it's not a one off. There's confusion in the air. Leaving aside for now the issues of mental health and violence against women, most people are scared about their future, seemingly. How to stop it. Will it stop? I'm a firm believer in worrying when it's time to worry, which doesn't prove I'm sensible, so from an audience point of view I remain half fascinated in people I thought I knew quite well, and half leave me out of it. My restricted current lifestyle may well not allow me to take in the true picture, and yet, as I switch between 3AW and the (call us, tell why you prefer Ultimate kitchens and bathrooms that make you the envy of everyone you know?) ABC Melbourne, morning radio, if anything, the bulk of the callers add weight to my sadness. I use sadness because there's little if any, comedy. True, the tennis fans have Nick Kyrgios, or had, but what can we say of his fans? No booing? I like Nick's attitude, seemingly we have the one life, enjoy while ye may, but a need to be noticed, loved, more than the average, and if he's really funny, why don't I see this in his eyes? Funny is in the eyes for mine. As for those toffs and the booing lot who attend our Australian Open event, the less said the better. 


Before anyone can be punished for a serious crime under Australian law, proof of guilt usually has to be established in a court. That changed last year. On December 2, 2021, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne announced that parliament had expanded her powers to make rulings against foreign individuals and entities believed to be complicit in malicious cyber activity, serious human rights abuses and serious corruption. Passed by both sides.


Alan Kohler, edited: "It’s a month since the Australian Financial Review ran the memorable headline: “Morrison stares down Omicron: ‘It’s manageable’”. It was a reasonable spin to put on the Prime Minister’s announcement that opening the borders to skilled migrants and foreign students would go ahead, followed up by his “victory lap” speech to the Sydney Institute that night. “In a truly global pandemic, Australia’s response has been a positive standout,” declared Scott Morrison, listing the ways in which the pandemic was now in the rear-view mirror while his government’s sights “are firmly through that windscreen on the road ahead”. But oh boy, that speech and the AFR’s headline have not aged well. In the days following, the Morrison government and most of the states removed most pandemic restrictions for Christmas, to everyone’s relief but against the advice of epidemiologists. The result has been a shambles: Tests unavailable, businesses closing, supermarket shelves empty, hospitals and emergency services overwhelmed, the economy taking another swan dive, and the unvaccinated Novak Djokovic getting a visa, later withdrawn. against the advice of their chief medical officers, as well, although only the inevitable royal commission will tell us that, when they’re questioned under oath, one by one.  There seems to have been no planning of any sort for the increase in COVID-19 cases that was always going to result from Omicron. In fact, the exact future of Omicron was being modelled by epidemiologists so there was no need to guess. And why would they not realise that applying the same isolation policies for close contacts when there are a lot more cases would result in a collapse in the availability of staff? Why has there been no national public space ventilation policy, as all infectious disease experts have been calling for? Instead, they rolled the dice, while failing to put in place any contingencies for staff shortages or making sure there would be enough tests. And what risk management planning is being done for the next variant? Omicron is definitely not the last. Much the same dice-rolling has been going on with climate change. In 2007, Kevin Rudd famously called it the great moral challenge of our time, which it was, and is, but global warming is primarily a risk management challenge and successive conservative governments have conspicuously failed in that. The risk of catastrophe from global warming is not zero so why would anyone in a position of responsibility assume that it was? What is it with conservatives that they don’t bother with risk management?"


I did a play, as in performed (?) in one written by young Ray Mooney, The Sinbin, 2001, directed by former VCA big name Peter Oyston with tough man John Brumpton, Syd Brisbane, Verity McIntyre, John Flaus, Katie Reilly, Wilde Mooney, Andrew Spyros, Neil Pigot, Stephen Yates and Jason Buckley, for the Melbourne Writers Theatre. From memory I came in at the last minute to replace a well known name actor, whose name now escapes me. I read the script and immediately said yes, a part where I was onstage start to finish and no dialogue! How good is that Scotty? Unlike most actors it was gold to my way of thinking. Peter was a problem, initially, very serious, and got quite abusive spraying all those rude words at my face when yet again the need to laugh during the stabbing scene at rehearsals. One also needs an angle, particularly when one finds it oh so difficult to restrain from laughter no matter the dramatic situation. Peter was a good painter, an artist, his work looking very much in the Monet mould. I commented on his work reminding me of the great artist; from then on close friends? A strange mix of performers, particularly the very serious and talented Neil Pigot, who had enough dialogue to sink a ship. Good houses good fun, particularly my good reviews and Neil's love of my good reviews? Sometimes you get lucky. Loved this play. Barman, no dialogue. Perfect. 


Lifelong Labor voters adrift, said the headline, unable to vote for a party no longer interested in fairness, social justice, progressive reform? Aspirational? A vote for Albo is primarily a vote against a  leader pumped up with hot air. True, Albo is far short of someone to write home to mum about, but who else?...Comedy, on Novak - "The law has spoken. We need to respect the law."...It's comical surely? The tennis crowds tut tutted for noise, the request for quiet while the probable millionaire player is serving? Give me a break?...on Johnny Boy Hewson: "The failings of governments of both persuasions, beyond the creeping inhumanity of offshore and onshore detention, has been to fail to develop an effective refugee resettlement policy, to offer these otherwise desperate people some hope of a path forward."...On Pauly Bongiorno: "One Labor strategist says there is a firm view in the electorate the prime minister is “an incompetent bullshitter”. This perception hinders Morrison’s ability not only to promote his cause but to effectively attack Anthony Albanese."....From another Bongiorno, Frank: "No one now imagines that the pandemic is going away any time soon. Professor Peter Collignon, the infectious diseases expert at the Australian National University – speaking on an ABC panel recently – thought we had a five-to-10-year journey ahead of us, although one made easier by increasingly effective vaccines and treatments. His fellow-experts agreed that we are in for a long haul."...We welcome back young whippersnapper Jordan De Goey, boys will be boys, all is forgiven..."In all science error precedes the truth, and it is better it should go first than last." [Walpole]...Finally, a touch of reality. It is better I don't live in Yemen...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.




 A Grain of Salt. 2022.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Sunday 16th January, 2022. 15th year of writing Salt. The way I see it if you can't be cynical after reaching 80 what's the point?  Moving on, our Prime Minister noted, Omicron changes everything. So long as he doesn't try a Donald Trump and change/postpone the last day of the election. No chance you say? I wouldn't put anything past this artful dodger, indeed, artful is a misnomer. A sledgehammer PM, and his tweet "Rules are rules" (Minister Alex Hawke has cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa.) straight out of Donald (trousers) Trump, and who falls for it? Thanks to the Murdoch News clan, millions. Dickeads from both sides, the anti-vaxxers and the vaxxed thus resulting in the woes of Djokovic and ignoring the mistakes of Scotty's mob. It's a set up. Hawke was considering his options my arse, delivering what we already knew with Peter Dutton's friendly nod at Scotty's favourite announcing time, 6pm on a Friday. As for his mistakes, i.e. Scotty et al, read on...


The Saturday Paper, edited: The past decade will be remembered as one of lost opportunities. It is with embarrassment that we will look back at the wilful ignorance of that position, of how much was overlooked to pretend we would all be okay. The pandemic is not the beginning of this – it is the aftertaste of incompetence. The gross mishandling of every aspect of this catastrophe has a perfect mirror in decisions already made on climate change. First experts were ignored. Then there was the appeal to exceptionalism. Then to the impossibility of doing anything ourselves. Opportunities were missed, especially on technology. Finally, the government decided to pretend it wasn’t happening at all. When this became unsustainable, they hoped the market would fix the problem. We are at the market end of coronavirus. Personal responsibility is the government’s answer to its own staggering failure to take charge when it should have, when capacity could have been built in the public health system, when vaccines could have been acquired, when testing infrastructure could have been established. Transport workers had been warning the prime minister’s office of supply chain breakdowns since October. The issue was noted for mention in national cabinet documents leaked to this newspaper. Nothing was done. There were early warnings on testing, too, just as there had been early offers on vaccine supply. All were ignored. The faith in the myth was too great: Morrison truly believed the country would continue to govern itself, as it always had done. He has a nostalgia for indifference. Australia will for years pay the price for this certainty, especially on climate change. The next election will be a test of whether we have outgrown the myth of our own comfort, of whether we can finally accept that the country needs a person who can lead it, who tells a story that doesn’t rhyme, one that is more complicated and aware than “How good is Australia?” [Good stuff, and for  good measurer add in widened inequality, normalised corruption, favouritism and extreme libertarian ideology, not to mention our country's diminished reputation?]


Worth a reprint? Many articles in The Saturday Paper criticise Prime Minister Morrison (August 25, 2018–present). I think this is totally unfounded. History will put him up there with great leaders of the past. Internationally, Neville Chamberlain and Richard Nixon and, locally, William McMahon and Billy Snedden. – Peter Pike, St Georges Basin, NSW.


Free RAT's? $3.5 billion for tanks, equipment to prop up the US arms industry and reassure the Americans of our ongoing subservience?...Peter (Heinrick's twin brother?) Dutton accusing Australian celebrities of not publicly supporting tennis player Peng Shuai?...Peter Dutton's Fortress Australia? Stopping the boats is long gone, ugly history. Let them all out now, and the bloke in England and that family in Western Australia...And our Opposition leader Albo? He's out there somewhere, skinnier, new suit, glasses..."Whatever makes the past or the future predominate over the present, exalts us in the scale of thinking beings." [Johnson]...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹πŸ˜₯

Friday January 7th. Bloody Summer, hot and humid. Happy new year? Living with the Omicron variant? The variations country to country, self interest at large, fear, the rich taking out insurance, political parties putting their politics first and bugger the rest. Head down, bum up. Take the needles, wash your hands, wear a mask and be careful if possible. Yes, a shade late; took a week off. Lost track of the days. Positivity dispenses, not completely of course, but almost, with self pity and jealousy, two of the big ones in our human nature life cycle. If you're lucky. I'd add in the experience of love, but unless you've been there you would never understand. On the other hand if you've been there you would know the possibility of being a fool. And so ends a hectic two years, the possibility of a Collingwood premiership in tatters, of a change of our federal government a current hope, despite the Opposition efforts to date. Our  government it seems has changed tactics, from saving lives and COVID control to neoliberal ideology, specifically business interests, profits. The big con. Even our Dan? Patience required, various opinions. And yet again our PM disappeared over Christmas (a beach, a pub?) and chipped back in for this national cabinet stuff, in line with it's not his fault (the states?) for failure? Full credit if successful? Give me a break. The various opinion pieces give us the old human nature never ending problem of prejudice, 'jumping to conclusions' in overdrive, lynch mobs on call, favourite "I've never met anyone with COVID" now squashed by Omicron. If my computer didn't tell me I wouldn't know what day it was, normal this time of year, about the only thing that is. And the other constant, new year resolutions? Nonsense, a newspapers and radio thing, aka waffle. Tried 3AW Breakfast for an hour. Commercial after commercial between urging listeners to phone in 'the most annoying things while driving, or ditto at airports'. Sure enough in like flies to honey, dingbats, ditto the hosts. Painful. Finally, franking credits. Remember them, the greed factor cost of giving us this current government, self interest, the emergence of charlatan Scotty? If nothing else it's now crystal clear, no matter the talent or otherwise of Albanese, voting this Prime Minister out of office is a must. Just saying?


Ross Gittins: "When you’re as big and as rich as America, you’re the best in the world at most things – but also the worst in the world. These guys win the Nobel Prize in economics almost every year but, no doubt, have the biggest and best Flat Earth Society. They have loads of the super-smart, but even more of the really dumb. It’s not nearly that bad in Australia, but there are some on the ‘Right’ trying to learn from the Republicans’ authoritarian populism playbook. When your Prime Minister starts wearing a baseball cap it’s not hard to guess where the idea came from. Or when the government wants to require people to show ID before they can vote, or starts stacking the Fair Work Commission with people from the employers’ side only. Enough."


The Chaser, edited: "Overall we are pleased to report we have reached every KPI set for the company this year. Our "pranking News Corp into thinking Fairy Bread was cancelled" quota increased by 100%. Likewise, the "having every other media company kicked off Facebook" metric was easily reached within the first quarter. Our brief foray into serious journalism during that period also broke new records with over a million reads to date, and as such we will be avoiding this in the future, as it seems like a lot of work. Entering the second quarter, our attempt to break into the lucrative arms dealing sector hit a literal roadblock when we were kicked out by police, but any losses on that front were offset by a wildly successful involuntary takeover of Harvey Norman's marketing department. Heading into the new financial year, the new risk and forecast analysis department proved extremely successful, accurately predicting natural disasters not once but twice by simply tracking the Prime Minister's holidays. We are also proud to announce that our long term project to help NAB bank promote their coal investments has been so successful it will be continued indefinitely, whether they like it or not. A related marketing project expanded our coal marketing to Times Square, which also helped spurn a second run of the famous "Where the bloody hell are you?" slogan when Morrison fucked off to an English pub during the climate conference." [And so it goes...]


Do I remember? Of course I remember, that I do not remember, near enough to a total memory block including almost all of the sixties into the early seventies. My mid twenties to mid thirties. Why did I waste a decade? Why is the moon blue? Did I enjoy myself? The Beatles, Elvis, Stones, the fabulous Mama Cass, Dylan, Creedence, even Nancy bloody Sinatra? I remember seeing Johnny Ray singing "Cry" and Little Richard, at Festival Hall, a young Frank Sinatra, patted him on his back as he departed the back exit from the venue. Snippets, vague. Maybe not wanting to remember? Ignore, accept, move on... 


The choices of foods or greedy guts? Frozen meals, fish and chips, soft drinks, beer. I eat what suits, sugar, salt, beer whatever, as do the many, following extensive RSL research. 'Elegant sufficiency' as my old man used to suggest when I pleaded for a second helping after a humungous first helping of steamed pudding with hot plum jam. 'Less activity with the tongue and more activity with the knife and fork' Dad replied. Give your opinions, but please, do not hold it up as the only way to a healthy life. "Gluttony is the source of all our infirmities, and the fountain of all our diseases. As a lamp is choked by a superabundance of oil, a fire extinguished by excess of fuel, so is the natural heat of the body destroyed by intemperate diet" [Burton]. Eat, drink and gamble responsibly, or like hoarding money "the more they get the more they want"? Suggestion: Improving the quality of your life. My life? Not quite, I've passed the point of no return so this is for "other" people, including females, politicians, psychologists as always and AFL football commentators. Fun is the keyword. What is fun? No definition, but you will know it when it's happening. I'm told its important to move your body in a joyful way, joyful being another word for fun. Maybe a partner would assist? Dancing around the house is recommended, as is whatever you can think of which can form part of increasing your likelihood of getting fit and strong. Push ups, running, walking? Stretching, particularly when watching television? Already you're on the path to something called 'feeling stoked'. Self compassion obviously. I'm overloaded with self compassion, so much so there's no need to put those shoes on and get out the door; morning coffee at my cafe and afternoon's at the RSL. The way I see it if I'm willing to criticise all those do-gooders on dieting the least I can do is come up with a sensible alternative. No dieting, no gym fees? Smokos. Voilà! 


And so it goes, Paul Sakkal, state political reporter..."The debate over rapid-test procurement will continue for weeks until retailers are awash with supply and the state government delivers free tests to those who need them. Until then, we are left in a diabolical situation where at-home tests are recommended in most scenarios, but as difficult to find as Novak Djokovic’s vaccination status." [I'm ok you're ok?]


"Rules are rules" said out Prime Minister commenting on that tennis player. Nonsense, Peter Dutton's men and politics. Didn't he ASK for exemption, and given it?...You can back it in, a certainty. The consistency of Nine News and The Age (with a share of real estate, com) telling us of the various dangers in the property market, self interest...Hard to believe. So sweet Virginia (?) travelled the world with Jeffrey E,  had a session with the Prince at age 17, copped a cool $695,000 and now she's doing an Oliver Twist? Greed is good?...Federal cabinet papers 2001. Followed by Nine News trotting out old former PM John Howard (Colonel Mannering, Dad's Army?) to tell us how every decision he made was spot on, again? ad infinitum? No mention of Princess Pauline, the GST, Iraq, refugees? ...Resolve political monitor, The Age: What! Josh Frydenberg our most popular politician according to the latest survey announced on 3AW. 1600, all from South Caulfield?...The Year in Review? -"A lie has no legs, and cannot stand; but it has wings, and can fly far and wide." [Warburton]...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. 2021. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹πŸ€”

Sunday, 26th December, 2021. Boxing Day, strange name, also my late wife's birthday, is she watching? A visit to the cemetery, a few loving words as insurance. Winding up 2021, much the same as 2020, a day at a time, COVID and politicians, not to mention my once mighty magpies. Worse even - Melbourne as premiers. Shrug it off, move on, hoping as always, for better things. A shortened Salt. A frightening thought? Those refusing double vaccination, the reason being there is no reason. Not the thought, so much as it all highlights the reality of so many seemingly innocent dickheads willing to put our health at risk as some form of self right beyond my comprehension. Melbourne supporters? One wonders if it ever crosses their tiny minds that their pathetic stand risks the health of millions of fellow Australians? Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled his mid-year budget update. If you missed it you missed hot air, again the  myth of superior economic managers, believed with nary a second thought from the vast majority of small business owners? And still the talk of tax cuts for the not needy. Michaelia Cash and her approach to trolling, social media. Beware, of Michaelia? Our Prime Minister waffles on about our personal responsibility, yet again resulting in his lack of responsibility? Come May 13 PM Morrison reaches 54 years of age so why bother? Come what may he's a former PM for life, never ever a money problem, an entitled forever. As a father of love, for his wife, children and his God, should not they come before the nitty gritty of politics? Apparently not. Why? Could be my age at 85, yet to be honest (beware when someone says 'to be honest'?) I felt much the same way - as in What for? when I asked myself this question in my early thirties after summing up my career in the commonwealth public service? Twenty years in a suit, collar and tie and almost thirty before retirement? I resigned a year later. Ever onwards? Hopefully...


Seize the day! That’s what he said. A departing inspirational comment? How about “Have a nice day” or “cheerio”? He bullocked off to seize his frivolous day. I was at the cafe, coffee, reading, MMOB. I drifted back; the late 50’s. The open fields of green surrounded by friends, acquaintances, sunflowers, daffodils and old people. Swings, slides, running and tennis balls, the Merri Creek, tadpoles, the tip. Mucking around. No fields now, big trees, apartments, surrounding me. Walking is difficult. Hard to seize the coffee cup let alone the bloody day. Maybe go backwards; is there an App to go backwards? The brain’s still working, just. See a doctor, antibiotics for the back; miracle drug guaranteed to bring on diarrhea. Bloody forest. Snakes everywhere; huntsman, politicians, crooks. Mates, Gary and Jack, Lawrie, Nancy, lovely Dianna, all to lah lah land. A day at a time, an hour, a bloody minute. Seizing be damned. Back to my newspaper. 


Dave Sands, Lionel Rose or Hopeless?: When I was 15 I discovered ice skating at the Glaciarium, just over Princes Bridge, back of where the Arts Centre now stands. By now I was a fully fledged “bodgie.” Swish haircut, and my new navy sweater with white hoops across the chest and sleeves. Cool. Walking along minding my own business, passing a dodgy looking group, eyes front, and one of them says - “Have I got something of yours on?” Bang! And into me, resulting in a minor on the spot hiding. Into the Glaciiarium rink and they followed. The bastard and his mates stalked me? Threats, what for, my cool sweater (?). Alas, this time in front of a few choice females. Embarrassing. And so to ice skating, confided in my mates, some dozen of them. Not to worry. We had our session, Mugs Alley mainly, where the ordinary skaters have a rail to cling to and spent half the time deliberately running into the back of sexy females. Time to leave, with my mates for protection in case of further trouble. Him and his three mangy mates, all about 4 years older, low life, the one after me in particular. Out the door and at the bottom of the stairs, and here they were, waiting for me. He fronted me on the footpath, prepared for further battle (annihilation?) and my mates, who promised faithfully to protect me, disintegrated. Where did they go? No choice, way out of my depth, my particular skill (my voice) being of no use. Another minor hiding, but this time I went to ground fast, withstood the expected verbal abuse, always the actor. Lost face of course, in my mind at least, with the ladies, but after 3 or 4 weeks it was forgotten. Ever the talker. They never again returned. Quite sore the following couple of days, but nothing serious. One wonders in these times. They kick you now, head, everywhere. 


Letters: The Age. 26 /12. "The call for the release of documents related to the disgraceful robo-debt debacle has been met with the usual disingenuous response that releasing such documents ‘‘would threaten the ability for public servants to give frank and comprehensive advice’’ (‘‘Fight for secret documents behind ‘robo-debt’ decision’’, online, The Age, 23/12). The current highly politicised and fearful public service environment is more likely to be the biggest threat to them giving ‘‘frank and comprehensive advice’’ than fear of disclosure. Politicians have and will continue to misuse privacy and freedom of information laws to deny taxpayers any opportunity to see their political motivated machinations at work in the public service. Public servants, on the other hand, would probably love to expose their political overlords through the release of such documents. So much for ‘‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’’.


Jon Faine: I will not just whinge but also despair about the inanity and nastiness of social media trolls and ‘‘influencers’’...Please return for a full refund. Says the supermarket, so generous?... Costello's comedy? Nine News new commercial telling us to "Trust the News"...The reality is??? the reality, why?...Expecting my glossy, taxpayer-funded brochures any day now...I began the journey as a 5 year old, loving actresses. At 14 switched to real females. Time, at 85, to return to loving actresses? ..."Humility is the first lesson we learn from reflection, and self-distrust, the first proof we give of having obtained a knowledge of ourselves," [Zimmerman]...Merry, for yesterday...Cliff Ellen.





A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜€πŸ’‹

Sunday, 19th December, 2021.  Not a lot to talk about, other than "What are you doing on Christmas Day?" Test cricket? Yawn. Lady on the wireless, on her way to Lord Howe Island, the pleasure of sitting under a tree, reading a book, do whatever you want to do. I can do that now? On the other hand the many trillions of factors coming together to create my one chance, waste not want not? From molten magma to bacteria to some 117 billion births. Hominids to homogenous to sapiens (Africa) to COVID to Cliff Ellen. Missed the banking crash of the late 1800's and the first world war. Read about how the poor thousands (millions?) almost starved before the magic creation of an event, like that war, and the creation of money, followed by a return to poverty 1930's when I logged in, and again, the magic of money from seemingly nowhere, or as some may assume, God, and the second world war. One cannot be blamed in thinking the money is there, in the hands of a few, willing to splash it around to a significant few, business, in times of stress, Covid, but equally willing to grab it back from those who  can least afford it, the cycle of profit ever-after. God will find a way? I remain a member, still the apparent need of the rich to get richer, why (?), thankful, meantime, to ponder, listen to the experts, even so... 


Political science, from Bill Kelty, former ACTU secretary, edited: "The ALP is still the party of the great Whitlam reforms, and together with the trade unions, the party of Medicare, national superannuation and pensions, investment in educational opportunities, the highest minimum wages in the world, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.". Unnamed and invisible persons sat down and divided the winnings. In doing so, they did not give members the opportunity to ask a single question of any candidates. They tramped upon innocents and guilty alike. They can rectify their mistake by asking the members in each electorate to vote upon their choice. They can be accessible to the party and its membership. If they do not, it is a matter of time for the community to understand that the pendulum has swung too far towards control by the cabal. The ALP may well win the next federal election, but if it does not, it will rue the day that it allowed the ALP to be the most undemocratic party in the state of Victoria, where even the Greens and the Liberal/National Parties have not abandoned membership involvement."


From Niki Savva, The Age, edited: "It is a tricky exercise for Morrison in the middle of a pandemic to boast about his measures (interventions) minimising deaths and business failures, to carry around a trillion dollar debt, then to cast himself as a champion of small government. Morrison, with his own research showing he has to increase his primary vote, has been doing his best to frame Albanese as weak, inexperienced and risky, pointing out he has never delivered a budget, never sat on cabinet’s national security committee, that even after all these years few people know who he is or what he stands for and if he won he would be held hostage by the Greens. That’s a work in progress." [Add in the Murdoch media as Scotty's direct line and it's a tall order for Albo. Best to imagine the sweet beauty of it all if he pulls it off?]


Labor MP Andrew Leigh, The Saturday Paper, edited: Four big threats: pandemic disease, climate change, nuclear warfare and runaway artificial intelligence. It collates the best available evidence, scientific data and expert assessments and considers the chances that one or other – or a combination of some of them – will destroy human civilisation. There’s a one-in-six chance that we will not survive another 100 years, he writes. “We are playing a game of Russian roulette with humanity’s future. Six chambers. One bullet.” a fifth risk, which cuts across and exacerbates the others – the global success of a brand of politics that advances short-term, simplistic solutions for complex problems; that is anti-intellectual, anti-institutional, anti-international and thrives on conflict. It goes by a rather benign descriptor: populism. [We’ve seen populists elected everywhere from the Philippines to Hungary to Turkey to Poland. In 2019 and 2020, the world’s four largest democracies, with a combined population of over two billion, were run by populists: Trump in the United States, Modi in India, Widodo in Indonesia, and Bolsonaro in Brazil. And we’ve seen a decline in the share of countries that are rated as strongly democratic. Populists regard politics as being a contest between a pure mass of people and a vile elite. For the left-wing populist, your classic Latin American 1970s populist, the vile elite is the super-rich. For right-wing populists, the enemy tends to be the intelligentsia – people with university degrees, urbanites, experts and immigrants. But it’s the demonisation that really matters. On both sides, populism is all about dividing rather than uniting. It is not actually climate change or rogue artificial intelligence. Nor is it pandemic or nuclear war, per se. It is the proliferation of political leaders who would rather pursue the politics of ignorance, fear and division for short-term advantage, rather than address the big, existential issues. That’s when it gets really bad. That, possibly, is how humanity ends.]



Instagram in words: Kids stuff, before orgasm, 1940's: Mum took sister Valerie to the Caulfield races on Guineas Day accompanied by Big Auntie Else and Edna Banks. Early afternoon in the Guineas section (the cheapest) the tea rooms, serving tea & coffee, kept coming with sandwiches, scones, jam & cream. Big round tables. 2/6 per person or thereabouts, people treating it as a short supper break between races. Not Auntie Else, sat there for an hour devouring all in sight, thanking the serving ladies as they brought more sandwiches and scones. Auntie buried some money in a tobacco tin and hid it under the chopping block. Big backyards in Preston. Uncle Tom moved the chopping block! The story goes when approached, as she sat in the yard, she said “Leave me alone in my misery.” Sometimes the carnival would come to Mayor’s Park in Clifton Hill. Mum would take us for the housie housie (bingo) and we rode the bucking horses and the chair-o-plane. At the Zoo occasionally, the odd ride on Queenie, the elephant. Food for Britain collections during the war, over a specific period; house to house asking for food donations then pass them on to an authorised fellow. The bright idea of continuing the collections after the deadline, the luxury of raspberry jelly crystals for the next few days, suspect we “chucked” the rest. The Facoory’s lived next door to Aunties Doll & Mill, of Lebanese  descent, and cousins of the Beshara clan. Les Facoory was like the prancing young muscled macho Italians one strikes in Lygon Street. I went to town with Les. Coming home waiting for the train at Princes Bridge, he cheeked a couple of dangerous looking characters in a mob of around a dozen. We got off the train at Merri, and so did the mob. Half way between the walkway between Merri Station and Union Street they surrounded us. One of them said to me  “Not your argument pal, stay out of  it” I obliged. Les took a hiding. Didn’t change him. Collingwood was a tough area, reports of a mob rolling people [mugged] in the Treasury gardens, hoods over their faces, Ku Klux Clan. I went to school with Jack Clues, brother of Ivan who played a few games for Collingwood. They lived in the heart of Magpie land, so when it came to walking those shady streets, Jack and one or two others were my passport to safety. I camped at Tootgarook with Jack one Christmas - a small tent back of a friend’s property. We had tinned baked beans for Christmas Dinner discussed “The Mummy” pictures lying in our tent at night, my first, and definitely last experience of camping. Another time we went to Murtoa to visit one of his rallies - ended up getting drunk on Ballarat beer at the Murtoa Pub. I loved Jack. Scared of no man. August 14, 1945-Hirohito, Japanese Emperor, surrenders. Grade 4 at Alfred Crescent, and we all got a holiday. The Australians were the best soldiers. I believed what they wanted me to believe. A dominant factor was when we were picking sides, be it footy or cricket, nearly always picked last, and if there was an odd man they’d toss up for me, not really caring who won the toss. Bastards. Unless one has been in this situation on a regular basis, you cannot imagine the effect it has. You laugh, shrug it off, you’re burying it, because if they caught a whiff of how it really affected you they’d hound you. A street full of kids and mob rule, ever dodge the subject of ridicule. Moreso at school, the females more powerful than the males, you lose face you’re really in trouble. The smartest in class, and in reality in the schoolyard. It’s one thing to be in love with a Lorraine or an Avril, but it’s another altogether if they even suspected it and did not approve, or more to the point, as was likely, ridicule you. A punch in the face could not be compared with female ridicule. We were taught to give our seat up to older people on public transport, almost all older people. There were certain rules in fighting - no kicking, no knives, no bottles. Nobody in my memory ever suffered a house burglary (to steal what?), nobody ever swore in public in front of older people, indeed even in private the words were rarely used, and definitely, positively - no dobbing. “Pimps” as they were called, were despised. A minor celeb grade 4 a result of the cherry bobs craze. Bookies lined up against the fence, holes in the ground. "Who'll come in my lucky barney hole, 4 and the old girl back" I would offer one above the other bookies, smaller hole, made a short lived fortune. Paedophile? Never heard of it until well into my 30’s, the odd flasher - sister copped one once, her and her mate a second one another day - regarded (by us at least) as harmless old purves. Dad brought home a live duck, or was it a goose? Tied it up and fattened it up for Christmas dinner (lunch - we always had breakfast, dinner & tea). Delicious, sister grew attached to it and refused to partake? 


The fascination of those all around us ignoring the daily coronavirus numbers, surely to bite us on our bums, or is it just me?...You don't need Einstein's brain to know pork barrelling is the misuse of public moneys. aka corruption...Covid brought Barnaby to his senses, Assange?...Does anyone know the aboriginal name for Rye in Victoria?...Should Independent candidates disclose the source of their funding? Yes, assuming it's across the board, impossible?...An interesting, albeit yet again ugly, finale episode of season 3 Succession, dominated to a certain extent by Sarah Snook's bottom...Apparently many in danger of cracking their teeth because of grinding during the pandemic, stress. Not Cliffie.....I love it. Tax cuts for the rich, funding cuts for the NDIS and aged care. And indirect cost increases for the rest of us across the board...Brody Grundy having a go at Jordan DeGoey, give me a break?...Bitcoin trading, free $50,000 virtual balance. Don't blame me if you go broke...“There seems to be no limit to the savagery of their  Anglosphere - US, UK, Australia - in exacting revenge for the crime of informing the population of what the powerful want to conceal.” [Noam Chomsky]...Keep yourselves nice...Enjoy? Cliff Ellen.




A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Sunday December 12th. 2022 in sight, an ominous sound? Election year, federal (feral?) first, then Dannyland. The federal Liberals seek to scare us that Labor’s climate policy will somehow be made overly ambitious due to pressure from the Greens party. Get used to it. Schomo's policies are zilch, aka a policy to attack Labor policies. Is there a difference between the Greens influence on Labor and the Nationals influence on the Liberals; grow up? The rich are getting richer and the crooks are all around us. Profits and bigger profits. Hanging out for Christmas, season  of love and goodwill? And my third  jab.


Peter Hartcher and Chris Uhlmann blathering on, Russia (Ukraine) and/or China (Taiwan)? PM Scott Morrison's political balderdash, fact twisting, aka opportunistic fear mongering. ‘‘The human rights abuses in Xinjiang and many other issues that Australia has consistently raised, we have been very pleased and very happy to talk to the Chinese government about. But the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues. So it is not surprising that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those Games.’’ Hypocrisy on display. USA, also known for their own human rights issues, boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in protest against China’s human rights record, seconded by Australia. Asylum seekers in Australia: Indefinite detention, temporary visas that prevent a person from getting a job, being treated as criminals. Aboriginal Australians. Medevac asylum seekers in hotel detention. Tharnicaa Murugappan a bridging visa so that her family could return to the Biloela community? Promises made to those who supported Australian troops in Afghanistan.  Bernard Collaery.   Ever the sadness of our gutless government allowing the British and Americans to crucify Julian Assange. Victorian Labor MP Julian Hill: ‘‘The hypocrisy of the United States administration is profound and growing. President Biden announced a new initiative on ‘press freedom’ at his democracy summit, yet his government is hounding Assange for journalistic activities?" Surely as good a time as any for Scotty to show us how close he is as a mate of Biden by bringing Julian home? No excuses for China obviously but the glaring  examples, the pot and the kettle?  


Anthony Albanese and his humble beginnings. Thankfully he's scrapped this line in favour of ‘‘I may not be the smoothest talker – but I promise you, I’ll always tell it straight’’. Complete with the new image, suit, weight loss, intellectual glasses. For the love of Mike get rid of your advisers, cup the crap and get on with it, as yourself. We do not know you mate! Climate, integrity and petrol prices, get stuck into reality, policies, and the real you?


La Mama theatre has re-opened after a three year drought due to the tragic fire. At last, a blessing. From memory I did five plays there in the 1970's, including Mog and Wog, (directed by Martin Freidl) which was quite dreadful, but nevertheless taught me a lesson. The wonderful Betty Burstall telephoned asking if I was interested in the role of Mog. I asked her opinion of the script and Betty said it was good. Accepted, sight unseen. Never again. During one performance David Milne missed a cue to enter by five minutes! Thus, a hard lesson in ad-libbing. David’s entrance was from the dressing room upstairs, down the outside back stairs to the door in the laneway. He explained afterwards there were two shady looking characters in the laneway and he was frightened? David was and is a fine painter. Patrick Alexander, a nice chap but never an actor, was also in the play. La Mama is a “share the gate” community theatre, we barely made expenses, rightly so. I also did an amateur production in 1976 of “Bunch of Ratbags” at the Williamstown Little Theatre, my second and last amateur production in Melbourne. Co-author Don Battye said I was the worst singer he had ever heard?  I had a fine time at Williamstown and they were a great bunch of people. The show played to full houses every night. The very long rehearsal process with amateur theatre, where people regularly “couldn’t make it” for one reason or another, the “fun” attitude of some, the lack of commitment and the obvious presence of some very bad actors, was not for me. Rex Callahan, who was also in the 1973 production for the Toorak Players, (as was I) was a joy to work with, our production number of “A Mason or a Mick” being a feature, thanks mainly to  an under-rated Rex, who is not with us now. Playwright David Williamson said La Mama was one of the most difficult of all performance spaces, which is nonsense, a beautiful space to work in. Betty Burstall, the founder, was a star in her role, charming lady, sexy in a certain way, followed by Liz Jones, also a star. 


John Hewson, The Saturday Paper. Edited. To save face, Morrison and Frydenberg have been out there spinning two recent, less than satisfactory data releases: namely the fall in employment in October and the 1.5 per cent drop in our growth rate in the September quarter. Frydenberg, for example, claimed on Insiders last Sunday that the greatest achievement in their management of the economy through the pandemic was to save some 700,000 jobs and to get the unemployment rate down to 5.2 per cent. He also claimed he would raise the budget growth forecasts in the mid-year economics statement. He cited the recent upgrade in our growth outlook by the OECD, from 3.3 to 4.1 per cent, and said the Reserve Bank had also recently increased its growth forecasts. None of this will be of much comfort to those Australians struggling with the costs of living, restricted by a record level of household debt and wages having been flat since the Coalition came to power. Nor does it address increasing global uncertainty and increasing job insecurity. Not only did full-time employment fall by some 40,000 places and part-time employment by about 5900 over the month of October, but underemployment remains high. Some two million Australians are either unemployed or failing to get as much work as they would like. Unfortunately, it is already being reduced to a scare campaign, with the government accusing the ALP of being likely to sell out to the Greens, ultimately committing to larger cuts in emissions, costing jobs and raising electricity prices, despite Anthony Albanese’s modelling showing evidence to the contrary. More broadly Morrison is running hard on the claim – without evidence – that Labor will put up electricity and petrol prices and raise interest rates. Another weakness is the government’s belief in trickle-down economics. This faith is not supported by the recent evidence from their response to the pandemic, which showed how improvements in systemic welfare spending can better stimulate activity. The most successful spending in response to the pandemic was the so-called coronavirus supplement. Many Australians are grappling with their lived experience, which is increasingly at odds with the yarns being spun by their elected political leaders. Their bullshit antennae are beginning to buzz. [Fortunately, hopefully (?) people are seeing the double standards more clearly, like the nonsense about Gladys standing, bulldust, an excuse to get stuck into ICAC. Again political] 


From the vault/ as KIDS: In the early 50’s Graham Campbell and I haunted the radio shows in the City. Graham lived with his father in North Fitzroy and, like me, had almost total freedom to roam unquestioned. 3AW Mondays to Fridays at 5PM, with Canadian Don (“What am I saying?”) Baker the compere; or Jimmy Woods who later died in a spectacular car crash near Clifton Hill Railway Station, and Arthur Lister who organised the shows and was a famous racing identity. Arthur used to say “When you go to a racecourse, you leave your brains at the front gate.” Correct weight Arthur. The quiz shows, (Graham much better than me) World of Sport when television came in (Bill Collins), and  before that Christies Radio Auditions (1953) as a vocal duo, singing “Sunny Side of the Street” for which we received two gongs. I was in a little play on the same night and got one gong for my performance. Apparently one must not turn one’s back to the audience. If they asked you to read a commercial you got 5 shillings. I must have read the Superman commercial at least half a dozen times. Big money! We joined the Rechabites, for the table tennis mainly. Still recall the pledge. “I promise, by divine assistance, not to touch, strong drink of any kind, and to do my very best, to induce others, to follow my example.” They eventually chucked me out, rightly so, drinking (?) but not before former Collingwood captain and coach Murray Weideman (who swam the first & last legs), Graham and I won the most important event at the Rechabite swimming championships, the relay. Murray swam the last leg against Bruce Seymour, a State champion. Go the Weed! We worked at Kooyong tennis stadium on two nights while the Harlem Globetrotters were there, collecting bottles. Saw the show and made a quid. Another night we witnessed Lew Hoad in his first game as a pro tennis player, playing the master-Pancho Gonzales. Match finished after midnight. Hoad won. Fantastic. Graham was the best at football and cricket - always in the school teams, later to play for Fitzroy Seniors in both, later still to coach Fitzroy in the Victorian Football League, indeed the last person to coach them to a premiership, albeit a night premiership. Graham’s mother lived in St Kilda. We would regularly choof off to see her, beg a few coins and to Luna Park and the big dipper. In 1949, after Auntie Mill had given me two shillings to have a bet on the Melbourne Cup (a shilling each way on Foxami at 16/1) we rode the big dipper 16 times straight, the last 12 in the front seat. Then to The Candy Shop across the road. We would often sit along the Esplanade watching the prostitutes and their minders, who would run up and down The Esplanade for (then) mysterious reasons. I fancied a skinny one, young, attractive, with purple hair, until she told me, again, to - “fuck off you little bugger.” Could never understand why the fat ones got more customers than my skinny one? We knew every inch of Melbourne City and St Kilda. Couldn’t do it these days. 


Editorial. The Saturday Paper, edited. Rupert Murdoch. Whoever wins the next election now has a stark choice. It is between the courage to properly investigate the power of a man and company who have debased the politics of this country for decades, or to pretend once again that they don’t know what is really happening at the organisation that controls the news and every anxiety and forced decision that flows from that enormous power. No one is holding their breath.


The Australian government is coming to the US-trumpeted (virtual) Summit for Democracy. The summit is meant to focus on three key themes: defending against authoritarianism; addressing and fighting corruption; and promoting respect for human rights. Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, said the US had called for leaders to bring specific commitments to fighting corruption, “but the Morrison-Joyce government will be coming to the table empty handed”. “It’s now three long years since Mr Morrison promised Australians a national anti-corruption commission and nothing has happened except an endless series of rorts and scandals.”  [Enough said?].


Brainwashing, lies by omission? The CEO of Cancer council on their good work in reducing the number of smokers, from 20% to nearer 10% - no mention of price increases as a major cause? ...Think about it, Christian Porter and Alan Tudge were responsible for Robo-debt...A federal corruption body? Never by Scotty...I'm away, in a manger - Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.





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Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, please put penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny a ha'penny will do, if you haven't got a ha'penny God bless you.  Summer.  As they say in the classics - It's up to you." Are you richer, poorer, does it matter? The race for a dollar (more is good?) is becoming part of our DNA? At my age I couldn't give a monkey's and I suspect a few friends attesting to this peace and serenity point of view. Crooks we know about, politicians, businesses, ever increasing the profit margin, eskimo pies are not eskimos any more, smaller ice cream, thinner chocolate, and so on, but us, we, the everyday, why? If you've got a beautiful wooden table and your over 60 why not use it? Polish, re-polish, eventually use the bloody thing. It's wood for goodness sake! Nothing matters, or, there's no fool like an old fool, take your pick, both relevant as one moves towards an 86th year. We live with a shifty, a liar, a bully Prime Minister, and a treasurer giddying my brain with numbers for any argument, a dangerous double act running the show. Whatever (Scotty says) he disagrees with, next time, and if cornered he brilliantly shifts the blame onto the accuser, Labor. Sounds like a female in my experience, though now willing to accept these types can be either sex. See, I've become the wood, I've matured. Either that or I'm dreaming. The latest - the moment you start trying to have a baby is when you should stop drinking alcohol? Nonsense, is my instinctive response; women? OK. OK. I'm sorry. Happy now? [Apologies, who believe's them?]


An open discussion, respect for all views, and showing how we bring this together to reach a consensus? Instead a bloody circus, aka schoolies in Canberra, corruption a by-product? "Boofhead Peter Dutton has many boofhead lookalikes? Our PM suggests the Solomon Islands are ‘‘our family’’, no mention of PNG, vaccines support? [Brutal rapes of the refugee girls on Nauru. Australian Federal Police officers stood by doing bugger all.] Yes, I know, we voted these clowns in. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, thinner, new suits, to date irrelevant, policies of fear, soft (a modest policy?) not to be attacked by PM Scotty, whose policies are zilch and attack Albo's, class warfare and so on. Not to mention Dutton's "Ten sitting days till August 2022?" - vaccine mandates, government integrity, climate change action and conflict between religious and sexual freedoms, a federal integrity its commission, an invisible Attorney-General, Michaelia who? And Jacqui Lambie “Being held accountable for your own actions isn’t called discrimination. It’s called being, you wouldn’t believe it, a goddamn bloody adult.” Wow. Something sensible in Clownville? An emoji kiss?


27/11: Senator Wong hit back on Twitter to accuse Mr Dutton of auditioning to replace Scott Morrison as Prime Minister. “With Mr Morrison looking over his shoulder you can expect more desperate political tactics ahead. But while they fight amongst themselves it’s Australians who aren’t getting the leadership they deserve,” she tweeted. A Chinese embassy spokesperson said Mr Dutton continued ‘‘preaching his quixotic misunderstanding of China’s foreign policy, distorting China’s efforts to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity, misguiding the Australian people on regional situations and fanning conflict and division’’. [Fair enough Penny darling, but Heinrich Himmler lookalike Peter Dutton, China, and Taiwan, our next PM? More like Josh Frydenberg, assuming his Kooyong clan vote him back in.]


Prime Minister Scotty announced a crackdown on online trolls just before the 2019 election? A vote winner for the rich and ignorant? A cunning move, again, for the rich and the dickheads? Two thirds of Australians back the idea of holding Facebook and other social media companies responsible for posts made on their platforms, while 70 per cent want anonymous ‘‘trolls’’ to be revealed in tougher rules for millions of users. Voters support the case for greater oversight of the social networks, with 71 per cent favouring better regulation at the same time Prime Minister Scott Morrison promises a draft bill to subject the companies to tougher laws and court orders. Does this include those using parliamentary privilege? Fairy floss for mine. 


Jon Faine, Edited, The Age: Victoria, Melbourne: Outside, a vigil by a few hundred conspiracists, a wizard, unemployed hairdressers offering free trims and a diverse rent-a-crowd seemed united only by a grievance psychology and mistrust of any form of authority. Some sadly had lost their jobs because they refused to get vaccinated. One sign read ‘‘Andrews Tell The Truth About Your Geelong Laboratories Where You Produced COVID 2017”. It is hard to have a conversation with someone who believes such nonsense – I tried. In the national capital, the Morrison government abandoned attempts to pass various laws in the shambolic final parliamentary fortnight, including their outrageous proposal to limit the right to vote to only those who produce photo ID, a ‘‘voter suppression’’ measure straight from the Trump playbook. A landmark report on sexual harassment within the Parliament was greeted by Victorian Liberal senator David Van making growling noises at Senator Jacqui Lambie. Unbelievably stupid. Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe had to apologise for a coarse interjection directed at Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes, thus breaking the Coalition men’s monopoly on inappropriate sexist slurs. Robodebt Minister Alan Tudge has been stood down over allegations from his former press secretary and lover that he was abusive within their consensual affair. He ought to have been twice sacked already – once for Robodebt and the second time for the audacious car park rorts. Former attorney-general Christian Porter is still refusing to reveal the secret donor of a vast sum of money to his personal legal expenses fund. He surprised no one in announcing he would not be contesting the next federal election. The Morrison government’s refusal to make any meaningful progress towards a national integrity commission as well as climate inaction leaves even moderate and progressive Liberals vulnerable. Predicting election outcomes six months out from the likely date is for the brave or the foolish. But I will make one bold forecast: if the Coalition loses this next election, they will implode. [Faine, good value either way.]


From the vault: John Steinbeck on critics: "This morning I looked at the Saturday Review, read a few notices of recent books, not mine, and came up with the usual sense of horror. One should be a reviewer or better a critic, these curious sucker fish who live with joyous vicariousness on other men’s work and discipline with dreary words the tiling which feeds them. I don’t say that writers should not be disciplined, but I could wish that the people who appoint themselves to do it were not quite so much of a pattern both physically and mentally. I’ve always tried out my material on my dogs first. You know, with Angel, he sits there and listens and I get the feeling he understands every tiling. But with Charley, I always felt he was just waiting to get a word in edgewise. Years ago, when my red setter chewed up the manuscript of Of Mice and Men, I said the dog must have been an excellent literary critic. Time is the only critic without ambition. Give a critic an inch, he’ll write a play." 


Anonymous trolling, anonymous political donations, the difference?...Housing prices, tax cuts for high-income earners, low wage growth, huge income and wealth gap, low investments in education and health, our federal government? Not to worry. Josh will turn it all into 'good news'...This misuse of public funds for party political purposes is almost beyond control as shown during the last federal election. Extended to local councils?....Diplomacy, seems to be missing in action. Submarines and Peter Dutton's China and the 1930's. Is her serious?...Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ report called for a new code of conduct for federal MPs and their staff, enforced by an independent parliamentary standards commission with the powers to punish those who breach the code. Sounds good, but frankly, again, fairy floss. Power corrupts, men and women. Religious Discrimination Bill, ditto....Expect the Morrison government to call Labor's climate change proposals a tax. So what's the difference between lies and cutting short the NDIS funding, and a dozen other invisible cuts and last election promises?...Time and again the letter writers use un-Australian as a point of their point of view. Sorry, there is no such animal...Former Education Minister Alan Tudge and Rachelle Miller. A raw prawn, powerful pollie, can attract anything, apparently?...Greg Mirabella, spouse to former federal Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella, and saw first-hand how brutal life in politics could be? From Sophie?... Patricia Karvelas is to take over Radio National’s breakfast show, a star...Housing prices, going somewhere but politically, no matter what, never down...Culture, also known as the rich and the poor? When you read a book you're never alone [Books that made Us. ABC]..."What a pity it is we can die but once to serve our country." [Addison]...Forget Christmas presents, apart from giving to under 15's and over 80 year olds, far better to keep yourselves nice...Merry/happy/good Christmas...Cliff Ellen.




A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜€πŸ’‹

Wednesday 24/11/21. Malcolm Farr on Twitter: Scott Morrison is the shallowest, most demonstrably deceitful, self important and ill-equiped Prime Minister of at least the past 30 years. [Likely Barrie Cassidy, Niki Savva, Katharine Murphy and Laura Tingle would agree?]...Peter Dutton's idea of Australian values is simply his own personal prejudices....The tryptic: Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Barnaby Joyce, representing technology not taxes, can-do capitalism, who do you trust?....Since the Taliban takeover how many Afghans have been successful in lodging a humanitarian visa?...Why are models so skinny?...Hooroo 2021. Keep yourselves nice. Back Thursday January 4th, health permitting....Cliff Ellen.


A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Thursday 18/11. My 2021 Swan Song, returning 2022 God's willing. Good to see PM Scotty at Bert Newton's requiem mass funeral, also Albo. Dare they not? Sound down on Anthony Callea's singing and the liturgicals, to each their own. Having attended three requiem masses in a lifetime I stopped years ago. Good stuff for Bert however, well deserved. Eddie McGuire and Pete Smith spoke well. Bert deserves a memorial, highlighting comedy, hopefully soon. A wet cold week here, another earthquake, in WA. Times are changing as always. Net zero by 2050, a "plan" nonsense. Short term politics a way of life, long term vision, heavily impaired. Peter dutton's call on Myanmar to release prisoners who have been unjustly detained? He should talk? On Facebook “How many friends do you have from 20 years ago?” A tricky one, in need of a memory audit. Obviously yes, but at 85 one tends to let them go, whereas the necessity to service friends, or do we blame COVID (again?). La Mama and Malthouse re-opening a plus. Despite the dreadful weather there’s a buzz in the air, promising, Christmas, spend spend spend? Grist for the mill, restless inhabitants, protesters, every which way, Trump lookalikes. Even so... 


Paul Bongiorno. The Saturday Paper, edited: The PM's successful scare campaign of the last election came back to haunt him. After another of his seemingly interminable word salads, the first question was how he could “honestly spruik electric vehicles” when he campaigned against them in the last election. He denied point blank that he had. He accused the press pack of peddling a “Labor lie” against him and mischaracterised Bill Shorten’s policy as mandating what cars people should drive. It was so blatant it was breathtaking. TV news bulletins that night dug out their vision of Morrison saying how an electric vehicle “was not going to tow your trailer”, “tow your boat” or “get you to your favourite camping spot with your family”. Maybe it would be tolerable if the conversion to electric cars and the target of getting to net zero by 2050 was matched with a suite of real policies and not window-dressing that ignores the imperative of joining the rest of the world in attempting to halve global emissions by 2030 to avoid catastrophic global warming.


Editorial, The Saturday Paper, edited: The attorney-general, Michaelia Cash, wishes to introduce evidence in the prosecution of Bernard Collaery that could not be known to Collaery or his lawyers and would instead be assessed by a special counsel engaged by the Commonwealth. It would form the secret basis for a secret trial, the premise of which has already been rejected by a court. The truth is Collaery should never have been prosecuted and certainly not under these layers of suppression. The idea that his role in exposing Australia’s wrongdoing in Timor-Leste is a threat to national security is ludicrous. He is being tried for heroism by a government too cowardly to do it in public. “This takes the Commonwealth’s hypocritical obsession with secrecy to new heights when one considers recent events,” Collaery said outside the court. “I strongly object to the court being given and relying on evidence we can’t see. It’s a shameful mockery of open justice.” Already the Morrison government has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep this case secret. The fear of course is of a political prosecution, which is what this case is. The government has already succeeded in having a whistleblower sentenced and now it is going after his lawyer. The evidence in the earlier trial was of a process that had dragged on for years, that had terribly affected a man’s mental health, to the point that he pleaded guilty on charges that should never have been laid. Collaery is fighting on.


Some three to four years of a government doing next to nothing, save the pandemic handball to the Premiers. There's much talk about our PM in election mode, true, or as always the media drumming up business, or inspired from yet another Scotty (or staff) leak to the friendly outlets? One assumes he would 'give it a go' if he thought he was a strong chance, but I see him as going to an election (under sufferance) at the last possible time, and longer still if he could change the law via Russia's Putin and China's Xi Jimping. Whatever (or whenever?) we can expect the usual strong economy crap, promises to the business sector, tax cuts for the rich, the odd car park, sporting clubs in doubtful seats. All highlighted with an attack on anything Albanese promises, and underwritten by Scotty's nationalism; C'mon Aussie C'mon. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Energy Minister Angus Taylor insisting Australia’s target of a 26 to 28 per cent reduction is ‘‘fixed’’ despite the COP26 climate conference ending with a pact calling on countries to make a more ambitious 2030 commitment by November next year, a grain of salt from two of Scotty's tin soldiers, meaning likely bugger all during the election. Can do capitalism? Can do comedy. Already Scotty is blathering on about freedom, Australians being over "what to do by governments" - state governments, who he fobbed off to handle the pandemic, criticised Victoria and ready now to take the applause? His big plus is his ability to communicate, despite the mix of truth, half truths and plain lies, unlike Albanese (or Shorten before him), policies notwithstanding. Learning lines is well and good, but without communicating the lines to the audience it risks becoming fairy floss. [Another pre election, kicking the boots in? Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, chair of the Senate standing committee on environment and communications, has accused the government of political interference over a decision to launch a Senate inquiry into the way the ABC and SBS handle complaints?] [Letters, sums up my view, edited: "The ABC’s role is to present the news in as equitable a way as possible. From time to time it has to hold the federal and state governments to account. This is its obligation to the public and whether the governments are Liberal or Labor is irrelevant. The ABC mustn’t and shouldn’t show bias and I think it does a pretty good job most of the time, but it seems Andrew Bragg doesn’t think so and he has the organisation in his sights. Sadly, I think the day will come when a Coalition government in Canberra will sell off the ABC and then we will have another outlet controlled by a powerful newspaper magnate."] No ABC, no 'both sides' opinions. Can we really see The Herald Sun, The Australian, Sky News, Nine News et al presenting both sides of politics? No way, José!


NOTES: 1992. KING OF COUNTRY by Tim Gooding, directed by John Ellis, music by Gerry Hale, Grorge Butrumlis and Paul Gadsby (Blue Dogs Band) with Jo Campbell, Carrie Barr, Wayne Pygram and John Wood. Playbox @ the Malthouse. Bugger me. They wanted me to sing? Held out until the third week of rehearsals, eventually ended up 'selling' the bloody song. My wife liked it anyway? Could have been a much better play but too much interference from John Wood and John Ellis, superior beings, yet to my mind clearly overwritten, plodding, the need to 'flow' more, but, surprise surprise, they refused to listen to Cliffie's suggestions? I could see their attitude (to my attempted input?) in their patient eyes. So be it. [Reviews moderate, apart from this one? "There are moments of great comedy in this play. Cliff Ellen is magnificent as Chook's father; John Wood handles the role of Chook well, and Jo Campbell is a delight as Pearl. John Ellis could have done more to make the production a little less safe."] Beautifully sung by Jo Campbell and great fun with Gerry Hale's band. We didn't get the big crowds but lots of fun. My role was a gift. Magnificent, no, a licence to overact, yes. The Sydney actor, no names, possibly a casting error depending on one's point of view, left the production without paying his bar bill, never to return, unsurprising. Despite the drawbacks, the pleasure of working with Wood, Ellis, Gerry and Jo. The importance, to my mind, of lifestyle.


Reds under the bed?...The more the RBA print money, the likely/certainty the inflation increase, the less value of your savings, if any...What's the story the first 10 minutes of Nine News - get Daniel Andrews?...Diplomacy, the skill of handling international relations. Maybe Scotty should try it big time with Indonesia, global warming? Just a thought...Another thought? Indian Environment and Climate Minister ‘‘The world needs to awaken to this reality. Fossil fuels and their use have enabled parts of the world to attain high levels of wealth and wellbeing.’’, wealth yes, wellbeing?...Amazing, but not surprising, David Davis, protesters and the planned pandemic laws, a weird (rational debate?) mob, and yet, invisible when Dutton's mob brought in the 'contained without charges', secret evidence etc etc, some 40 anti human rights laws, dickheads unlimited?...I'm not the brightest spark on planet Earth, so kindly explain to me how people who criticise China's approach to human rights say nothing as to America's?...."When truth is revealed, let custom give place; let no man prefer custom before reason and truth." [Augustine]...Keep yourselves nice. Happy Christmas, Hooroo...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Thursday 11/11. Lest we forget. The happy highways where I went, and cannot come again. A E Housman. Social justice, education, health, or (for now) climate change and electric cars? Seems obvious to me, but too old to affect the  remainder of my life span. What about my billy lids, grandkids? I told them - vote Labor, half a chance for a positive improvement, half better than false promises. Kids have a right to be angry, they tell me? They (whoever 'they' are) also tell me psychologists are working overtime with school kids problems? What problems, self induced stress? A higher target by 2030? To the election with stronger policies, more promises? Significant industrial changes? When do we get more information, a week before the day? After all, they're all politicians, honest and transparent, not, never?? Maybe more concerned with the latest Apple 12, or 13? Half way through our COVID lockdowns I recalled younger days, public servant, and our 4 days a year sickies without a medical certificate. Never to be wasted on being sick. Kids at kinder or school, mother/wife ("I love you darling. Have a good day.") at work. Home all day alone, in bed, radio on, record player alongside. Luxuriating. It all came back to me during one of my daily naps, and suddenly that same (almost) feeling, thus, a positive attitude. The midday nap became a pleasure. Alas, lockdown over, return of the ratbags? Alongside six 2 bedroom units for holiday bookings, schoolies? Not forgetting our entitled, the 4 day Melbourne Cup carnival. Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, and the fellow who wanted to see his own funeral, the nice things we say, before his departure? Stupid, but interesting. Not into funerals, a mix of gobble gook and Collingwood theme songs, with tears. Working on writing my own stuff, 20 years the public servant, 37 for totalisator companies, 40 as an actor and a decade of midday naps. If interested, they're all coming up, eventually, health permitting. And politics, Collingwood, as always. Even so, just saying. Maybe see a psychologist? Nah. I have a mirror for that.


The Saturday Paper, edited: Pork Barrelling. Terry Moran, head of the prime minister’s department for three-and-a-half years from 2008 to 2011, is troubled by these developments. “The internal checks and balances – which are not well understood – have started to break down. It’s not just that the government is prepared to subvert traditional process by using unprecedented amounts of taxpayer money to party political ends; it’s that it has become dangerous for public servants to insist proper process be observed. What’s happened at the federal level is that if you’re not accommodating of ministers, you’re endangering your job. If you won’t take the nods and nudges to favour one proposal over another, and provide advice accordingly, you’re endangering your relationship with the minister. That used not to be the case.” Moran sees two big dangers in this. “The public service is strong when it’s got people who can get things done, and also people who can think ahead – strategic thinkers. And right at the moment, large parts of the public service in Canberra are short of people who can think ahead or are brave enough to say what they think. The second danger is that the public will lose faith in the political process." Moran sees this manifesting already. The fact that there has not been a “stunned public reaction” to the revelations of massive pork-barrelling reflects “the prevailing view of politicians that the community has – they don’t trust them”. “So,” Moran says, “it’s not just bad practice in running often very expensive programs – although that’s important enough – but it’s ultimately a means of undermining the public’s faith in politicians and how they run the country.” [Poverty is never a choice, it is thrust upon many by circumstances beyond their control. Loss of employment, credit squeezes, absconding husbands and other reasons can cause families to be plunged into poverty. Meanwhile, we have state and federal governments shoring up their electoral prospects with taxpayers’ money in the form of pork barrelling instead of providing much-needed social housing.] 


1989. The Melbourne Theatre Company. The play was Top End, by John Romeril, directed by Paul Hampton with Maggie Millar, Vince Colosimo, Pam Drysdale, Bunney Brooke, Hao Zhau and Peter Cummins. And what a fascination this experience turned out to be. The rehearsal spaces, offices, and cosy canteen are situated in Ferrars Street, South Melbourne. An accumulation of people either exercising power, treading carefully to be accepted to be a part of an invisible clique, or a group of really enthusiastic types there for the good of theatre. Apart from this small latter group one could feel an underbelly of petulance, snobbery, spitefulness, arrogance and autocracy but with a higher degree of sophistication than in other lines of employment. Of course it was all “health and happiness” on the surface. Everybody loves everybody. Loyalty can sometimes mean lying and twisting in the interests of your cronies, while ruthlessly worsting anyone likely to challenge you in the scheme of things. Or was it my imagination after all those years in the Commonwealth public service? John Romeril attended almost every rehearsal, creating a “two directors” situation, constantly muddying the waters for Paul Hampton. Strange indeed, head down bum up, patiently ignoring the interruptions. What notes? Eventually, in fact, receiving some four pages of typed “notes” from John two days before opening night. Apparently I got off lightly? I should have kept them for historical purposes, but sadly, chucked them, unread. Paul was replaced as the director at the same time (two days before) after representations to Roger Hodgman (the Artistic Director) from Peter Cummins and Maggie Millar, who were dissatisfied with his direction. Poor Paul had been suffering from a severe case of the influenza for the final two rehearsal weeks. I couldn’t help pondering as to why two such senior actors had to carry out such a cruel act. To my mind the real problem was Romeril’s intrusions and the bad casting error of Pam Drysdale, a nice young lady who appeared to be out of her depth. In normal circumstances I would have assisted her, but as the situation stood I decided to leave it to the senior members, my mistake. [Pam had come from Albury and accepted the part without living away allowance, a big break for her. Maggie Millar convinced her she was entitled. Pam asked me and I recommended she forget it. Pam chose the Maggie option and (as expected) we never heard from Pam again. Sad. A lovely young lady]. Not to worry, press on was my approach. Why create additional problems? The production had moderate success. Cummins and Millar exercised a superiority clique not commensurate with their ability; Vince was a delight, Bunny was a pain in the arse but the audiences loved her for past achievements; young Hao sang beautifully and Pam did her best, but sadly, not up to the part. A feature of the intervals was my winning money from Vince and Hao at cards, while Cummins made the odd nasty cracks in my direction, which was water off a ducks back. Too long at the MTC I reckoned but who is to know? I had previously been a strong admirer of Cummins work. The MTC was “little hollywood” for mine. Success at the box office and they love you, do badly and you’re in Iceland.  A mix of class, pretenders and wankers, but mainly, thankfully, class. 


Paul Keating: "British Prime Minister Boris Johnson an ‘‘old coconut head. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age journalists ‘‘ning nongs’’ and Australia’s plan to acquire eight nuclear submarines to help contain China was like ‘‘throwing a handful of toothpicks at the mountain’’. Our new submarines will be old tech, like buying an old 747 [plane]. Eight submarines against China in 20 years’ time?’’ [Go Pauly, good value, as always.]


Niki Savva The Age. Morrison is a walking, talking, weaving, wedging, endlessly posing advertisement for Sean Kelly’s excellent and exquisitely timed book The Game, which dissects the PM’s character. His career has been built on self-ghosting. He vanishes an old personality, or an inconvenient event, soon emerging reborn with no regard for, or acknowledgement of, whatever has preceded. A prime example. Campaigning on April 7, 2019, he said then opposition leader Bill Shorten wanted to ‘‘end the weekend’’ by forcing Australians to buy electric vehicles that could not tow their trailers or boats to their favourite holiday spot, unlike their SUVs, which they should kiss goodbye. Then on Tuesday, surrounded by furiously nodding vulnerable Liberal MPs, sounding like he could do with a battery recharge after garbling out ‘‘Anthony Albany’’, Morrison denied he had opposed EVs, said it was a Labor lie, and announced an electric vehicle policy. Yesterday never happened. [At the last election it was Get Bill Shorten; coming soon Get Anthony Albanese. Policies bugger all...And so it goes...]


Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, many thousands killed. The Morrison government commits our nation to AUKUS and the construction of incredibly costly nuclear submarines. Why?....Stephen Charles: "Voters want a national integrity commission with teeth, not an MP protection program." Spot on, zero chance...Branch stacking, Former Victorian minister Adem Somyurek, Nine News, featured as the anti-Andrews disgrace. One wonders what Nine News would do without Andrews to sling shots at. No mention of federal branch stacking, or as our PM would say "Nothing to see here."...Better teachers pay and lighter workloads. What?...MP Kevin Andrews has admitted he helped recruit up to five Liberal Party members a day in an apparent breach of a ban on factional activity being conducted on taxpayer time?....The jetskis are back, the horror. Are we allowed to shoot them?...The nightly painful Nine News and consistent complaints from business owners. Hard times my arse, bloody sooks. Interview those who missed out on Jobkeeper? Try the 1500 houses without electricity for a week or more?...I'd believe Jordan De Goey before I believe Scotty; diplomacy (courtesy and stability/relationships) has reached a new low, ask Scotty...The cultural cringe remains, Pommies. Credit where it's due. Scotty got on well with Donald Trump?...If China  wants to buy our coal is that our fault or theirs?...Tim Smith a head kicker? Nah, more accurately a loud mouth fool, does he barrack for Melbourne?...I'll be 103 in 2039. I could make it if I give away the cigarettes, and the pleasure of seeing those new submarines?...The housing crisis can be solved overnight by way of capital gains, franking credits and negative gearing...I'm with Albo, on the understanding he dries up on his 'humble beginnings' nonsense...After a drought of 65 long years I picked the Melbourne Cup winner, Verry Elleegant. easy. Ellen in her name...The real meaning of Christmas in Rye is to psychologically prepare for the ratbag elements of the Melbourne invaders...Look not mournfully into the past - it comes not back again; wisely improve the present - it is thine; go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear and with heart." [Longfellow[...And while you're about it, be nice to waitresses...Hooroo...Cliff Ellen.





A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Thursday 4/11. November already, the stench of COVID lingering, booster shot due early February, which is about the time the next election is due, hopefully, unlikely, sooner. Scotty lied to get into parliament in the first place, later to Turnbull, and numerous times to the Australian voters, let alone the French. The advantage of a direct line to News Limited and his leaks, if not directly by Scotty, then by Scotty as directed. A Prime Minister dangerously short on principle. As always we all lie, a question of degree. Scott Morrison is not the first politician who tries to sell himself or a dud policy by disingenuously embracing jingoistic patriotism re: recall Samuel Johnson: ‘‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.’’     


Jon Faine, edited: 31/10/21: Regulatory failure is the recurring theme. After years of ‘‘cutting red tape’’ we are coming to understand why red tape is actually needed and how short-sighted it has been to over- enthusiastically slash it. Whether it is cosmetic surgeons, flammable building cladding across the country, apartment towers in Sydney declared uninhabitable, banks and financial advisers ripping off customers – it is an epidemic. The worthy goal of red-tape cutting has too often been turned into a self-interested push by the greediest and most unprincipled in business and some professions to be left free to prey on the weakest in our community. And the richest companies in the world – tech giants and social media titans – are the most unregulated of all. Don’t worry – Barnaby Joyce is now Acting PM and despite the Murdoch media being in ‘‘Gladys spin cycle’’, the ICAC washing machine is trying to clean up that mess.


The Saturday Paper, editorial, edited. 30/10/21: Morrison government’s intention to institute identification checks at polling booths is an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist. There is no evidence of voter fraud affecting elections. It is hard to see it as anything other than voter suppression. It is telling that Scott Morrison is making laws to stop people voting rather than laws to win their votes. This is how he plays politics, in the negative. It’s a game of opportunism, of minute advantage, eked out at the expense of the system that gave him government in the first place.


Niki Savvy, edited: In an extraordinary diplomatic feat, Morrison has somehow managed to have China, France and the United States offside simultaneously. It’s an outstanding trifecta, when the Chinese refuse to talk to you, the American President thinks you are a boofhead and the French President calls you a liar. Morrison, adept at making bad situations even worse, desperate to show it was everyone’s fault but his and that Macron was lying not him, leaked Macron’s text. It showed no such thing. Plumbing the depths for domestic political advantage he also shamelessly fibbed by claiming Macron had sledged Australians when he very clearly and carefully did not. While it is likely none of them is telling the whole truth, back home the usual official and unofficial spokesmen made the usual excuses for Morrison’s behaviour. Still, the one truth in this is that Morrison has suffered grievous harm, not helped by a string of domestic offences, including ‘‘it’s not a race’’, ‘‘we are at the front of the queue’’, ‘‘I don’t hold a hose, mate’’.


Kew MP Tim Smith, Liberal, crashed his car while drunk and vowed to stop drinking alcohol while in public life and said he was not mentally unwell but was ‘‘an idiot’’. Easy to come down hard on Tim in the light of his consistent attacks on our Danny Andrews, but thinking back to the 1970's this would be hypocritical. Deserves a second chance.  


What international reputation?...Comedy: Scott Morrison claim that his government is acting on climate change ‘‘the Australian way’’?...Orchids: Cleo Smith and the WA homicide squad. Good stuff...Stay nice...Cliff Ellen.


CAST: Siobhan Tuke, Sally-Anne Upton, Louis Dingemans, Carole Patulo, Jon Concannon, Roger Selleck, Taya Straton...Directed by Mark Shirrefs. 

10AM...Cliff arrives, on time as always and on the verge of giving up smoking for 6 weeks. Nerves on end & in no mood for bullshit. Mark, our VCA trained [?] director is striding around like he’s just returned from a 2 year health camp muttering something about a solid game of volleyball. [Cliff thinks “Shite, not physical crap please!”]. Siobhan & Carole arrive. Don’t know these two but have seen the little one on telly. Keep an eye on her. They both have permanent smiles/seem friendly enough. Could be a rough chance? Nah. They’re actrines. The little one was good on telly but as I say, comparing TV to theatre is stonewash jeans to designer brands. Louis arrives, dressed in his op-shop best, the same fixed smile as Carole? They must do mirror work? I make a mental note to test them out at a later date, although judging by appearances I doubt Louis has ever heard of Stanislavski. Next Roger - he’d be good in the part of a bulldog complete with psychopathic eyes. Then sexy Taya-madam in disguise? No cheap nights with Taya. John Concannon, another op- shop devotee & chairman of the bored [watch him/shifty/a look of self love], Little Pauly with his trusty pad & pencil in case someone says something funny and the singing detective herself, one Sally-Anne Upton, the world’s biggest volley ball cheat, unless she’s cross-eyed, or I'm equally biassed?  We play a game of volley ball & it’s apparent that everyone cheats. except me. Roger is patronisingly sporting, Louis & Carole [both smiling] are hopeless, Taya is even worse, Mark & John are good [bastards!], Siobhan is learning that being famous accounts for nothing, Little Pauly is playing like he thinks he’s good [god knows why?], and Sally-Anne personally calls every opposition ball out and all her side’s in. Troublemaker? Cunning Jo [stage manager] arrives after the game. I’ll remember that.

Exertions & pleasantries aside, we read the play. Louis trips over every second word like an effing schoolboy [why didn’t he attend VCA & get stuck into the red leather/ yellow leather routine?]. Sally-Anne has trouble sight reading. Siobhan is authoritative. Carole is straight. Roger superior. Jon does his intellectual bit & Taya foxes. [So we thought - it eventuates this is her normal Green Room nominee performance]. Jo sits quietly. We then discuss the play. Now we’ll see where the shite hits the fan. Always exciting stuff this bit. Louis occasionally comes up with an intelligent look, but so far hasn’t a bloody clue. Perhaps he’s on with Mark? Siobhan comes out with highly intelligent stuff - obviously a VCA graduate. Must be, because Mark keeps agreeing. It turns out Sally is a stand-up comic; no wonder she cheats. I’ll have to forgive her though, as she’s being very friendly towards me. I shall continue however, to bait her. Roger talks to Mark like a fellow director [Piss off!]. Taya says something about “finding a character.” I didn’t know we’d lost one. Could be Green Room talk. An empty vessel or a deep thinker? Jon has much to say in a mannered tone, mostly crap; apparently he was a star at the VCA. Pauly puts forward ideas - we listen attentively because he’s so warm & cuddly, then immediately forget. Carole agrees with everything? Jo left early. 

THREE WEEKS LATER...Mark & Siobhan are now running the show with Carole as their first assistant; all members of the VCA old persons clique. Carole & Louis still smile constantly & if they don’t stop soon I’ll personally smash their faces in. Jon & Taya are moody twins - taken their ball home. Certainly not Jon’s - I doubt he has any. They spend most of the rehearsal time in quiet discussion - keep cuddling like lost little teddy bears. Sally struts around in her police uniform like a gestapo, but I forgive her because she’s my mate, although she’s starting to co-direct the play. Carole continually suggests we go to Cafe Maximus for a few drinkies. Paul is still giving notes, but via Mark so we are spared the feigned attentive bit. Roger’s psychological nature is beginning to emerge. Jo says nothing. 

WEEK THREE OF PERFORMANCES...Turns out Louis is good! Who would have guessed. And, when he gets a beer or two into him he comes out with some intelligent stuff. He & Carole keep running off into the night to watch “Let the blood run free”- so they tell us? Sally is good [but eats all my lollies], as is Siobhan and Carole. I discover one does not argue with Siobhan or Sally. Roger would be better if he could forget his “thing” for Carole. Apparently Jon & Taya are in the show, a play within a play “A Midsummer’s Night Wet Dream”. 

CAFE MAXIMUS. 2AM. MOST NIGHTS...Taya drifts off into the night to her mysterious goings on at the Esplanade hotel. Cliff discovers [compliments of Jo] some 90% of the local female prostitutes are in fact men. Bugger. Siobhan is being slurringly serious, waiting in anticipation for boyfriend Little Mark to arrive from taping at Channel 10, no doubt sporting another swisho tie. Jo is smiling. Little Pauly & daughter Tabby are smiling. Mark has gone home dreaming about his Pyramid shares coming good. Sally is on a diet so is restricting her drinks to just 6 of those creamy looking monsters. We all eat lots of chips. One night I even paid for a bowl. Roger still moons over Carole. He thinks no-one knows? Jon has turned nice, starts talking about his wife, assures Cliff he will fix him up for paying for his shout. [When, you tight bastard?]. Louis is joined by his mate Bruce. Carole wakes up, spots Bruce and immediately suggests another round. We talk of touring-”Storming the World by Tram”. Balconies overlooking the oceans. Roger dreams of other things. Louis has collapsed. Carole suggests another round. Jo agrees... 

12 MONTHS LATER...Well, at least Little Pauly, his Susie, Brian Nankervis, Steve Scully, Kay Keighery and Mark Cutler have balconies. Cliff dissipated & disappeared from old age. Jon, Taya & Roger are but memories. Sally choofed off overseas but shall return. Mark, John, Val, Kay, Steve & Susie may be as good as their predecessors but have they the boozing staying power? Can they provide us with new intrigues? Will they cuddle & touch like Taya & Jon? Will the balconies of the Glenelg Holiday Flats prove as enticing as Cafe Maximus & owner/barman Tim? 

Opening nights: Always the general undercurrent of nerves, varied emotions. I preferred the rehearsal process, the bonding (or otherwise?) and yet, with the right length of time to get it all right (not always the case, depending on theatre finances usually) it was time to put it to the audience, the critics. Always sensible to leave the co-actors to their own special way to prepare. "Chookas" was enough, or a cuddle. After a fortnight of studying the script before rehearsals began, followed by some 4 weeks on the floor (rehearsing; moves, blocking, actor's interpretive feeds, emotional differences, including the director) and at least one full dress rehearsal, ideally two, I was ready and willing to get that opening night thing out of the way, in anticipation for a beer or two, also to see if the response was as anticipated, not always confident. Some of course you knew (like 'Away') others doubtful. Personally untroubled, played it safe, as rehearsed, straight. Others went for it, not always successfully. Difficult to explain. Sort of akin to letting your character 'have wings'. I was of the opinion (right or wrong) best to see the shape after audience confrontation, often different to the dress rehearsal effort. Thus, to me, a business decision. Very little in the way of opening night nerves. Simply time to get it done. Time later to fly, perhaps? 




A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Tuesday 26th October, 2021. They tell me not to drop my bundle, these Wellness types, emanating of late from every which-way, but first I must identify what my bundle is? Apparently there's so much pleasure in having squashed avocado on toast sitting down in a restaurant as against the same meal at home alone? So I asked him (or more like her these  days) how come our government, crying poor before COVID, suddenly produces billions out of the air to pay some and not all according to their likes and dislikes? Ditto our state government millions, not billions? Why the sudden surge in generosity out of the previous stinginess? "They print money" was the reply. My mind went back long long ago, 1930's, everyone broke, on their knees, Hitler attacks, and voila, everyone had jobs, in uniforms, money from Allah. Better still, today, no street beggars, why? I let it pass, my mind temporarily in search of my bundle, and a haircut. A strange week indeed, out of Lockdown. Day 1 and after months of nothingness 2 empty beer cans on the nature strip and three females in a state of bliss, walking, across the road, no masks (in their pockets in case of crowds?) summarising the week ahead, and the advantages and disadvantages of Lockdown. Peace no more? On the other hand I'm still here. The real possibility of many, particularly the ratbags,  assuming the danger has passed and with it the relaxation of the rules. Victoria reached 1000 daily cases on September 30 with a first-dose vaccination rate of 80.1 per cent. Using the Doherty modelling as a guide however, it is clear there will be many Covid-19 cases in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people as Australia moves to a delicate balancing act between baseline or low-level public health measures and opening up. While the vaccines limit transmission and infection, they do not entirely prevent it. People who are fully vaccinated can still get the virus. We press on, carefully. It's not easy getting out of the practice of doing nothing (mostly) all day long. I'll do a Scarlet O'Hara and worry about the bundle mirage, tomorrow, or the next day? As for politics a good week for the following two.....


Jacqueline Maley, The Age, edited: Don’t call it a blind trust. Call it a trick, an attempted sleight of hand, a work-around by someone who knows the rules well enough to skirt them adeptly. When former attorney-general Christian Porter accepted more than $1 million to cover the legal bills he racked up suing the ABC, the first trick he played was to call the vehicle by which he took the cash a ‘‘blind trust’’. Porter, it seems, has been studying George Orwell, believing that language shaped our thought, so if you could control language, you could control thought. Call something a blind trust – a term with legal-ish solidity, and with the very word ‘‘trust’’ in it – and it might pass as proper. What Porter has actually set up is a large pot of personal funds gifted from secret donors, which violates the principle that politicians must tell us what their private interests are. When the manager of opposition business, Tony Burke, last week called it a ‘‘brown paper bag stitched up by lawyers’’, he was right. The money may as well have been pushed under Porter’s door in wads of bills, fastened with a rubber band and delivered via a gloved hand.


Jon Faine, The Age, edited: Amid the emergency, a Liberal prime minister preferenced a Liberal state, undermined a Labor one and denied doing so despite clear evidence to the contrary. Quite apart from the petty sniping, prioritising Sydney for Pfizer enabled that city to exit lockdown quicker and overcome vaccine hesitancy earlier. The AZdependant Melbourne had to bunker down and endure the longer wait between AZ doses. Victorian voters will need little reminding when the ballot box beckons. Melbourne’s class divisions proved more subtle, but just as real. Those who could escape fled to their coastal retreats or hobby farms. Toorak and Armadale seemed almost empty while coastal holiday towns like Portsea, Sorrento and Lorne boomed, as did Castlemaine, Daylesford and Kyneton. Some people who refuse a vaccine claim mandatory injections breach their human rights. I hope their newly aroused appreciation of injustice will be equally exercised about the mistreatment of asylum seekers, discrimination against the disabled and persistent gender inequality, but don’t hold your breath waiting. Anti-vaxxers are not victims – they are saboteurs.


AMA Victoria president, Dr Roderick McRae, intensive care physician and an anaesthetist,“We’re all juggling everything the best we can to avoid and prevent deaths. We know as we reopen it’s the unvaccinated who are going to get Covid, and they are going to get great hospital treatment with many new experimental drugs, even though they think the vaccine is ‘experimental’. A whole lot of these people are passionate disbelievers that the virus even exists. And they should notify their nearest and dearest and ensure there’s an advanced care directive that says, ‘If I am diagnosed with this disease caused by a virus that I don’t believe exists, I will not disturb the public hospital system, and I’ll let nature run its course’.” [Rejected obviously, but food for thought.].


Obviously? Leaked messages reveal Nationals MPs were fuming after details of their list of demands for agreeing to a net zero emissions target were canvassed publicly, before they had seen it, with one accusing the Prime Minister’s Office of leaking it. [Scotty, best leaker in the business, never?]


The Saturday Paper, edited. Paul Bongiorno: By any measure, it is the states that have led the response to the pandemic. The Commonwealth was dragged to stump up the $70 billion in employment support through the poorly designed JobKeeper program. It was withdrawn earlier this year before New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT were plunged into protracted, brutal lockdowns, precisely because of the Morrison government’s initial failure to supply and deliver vaccines in a timely manner. There is no doubt the lockdowns became a huge financial incentive for people to get vaccinated. It was the ticket to freedom and a return to fully paid work. Many businesses, particularly smaller ones, will never return. It was a perverse path to success. Labor’s Mark Butler says in the first phase of the pandemic Australia was up with the best in controlling the virus, but “we ended up the worst developed country on vaccination”. The fact is the government was too slow securing vaccines last year – lagging about five months behind comparable countries. And by any measure the way in which the prime minister and his health advisers trashed the reputation of AstraZeneca, the one vaccine we had, worsened the crisis. Far from being measured and patient, Morrison had to scramble and belatedly scour the world for the mRNA vaccines he had failed to order enough of in the first place. In parliament, Morrison sought to deflect attention from the ugly unfinished business of a Coalition climate policy. He ensured that the first question from the government side was about the “national plan to safely reopen” and live with Covid-19. The hope is enough voters will have short memories and agree with Joyce that the runs are on the board now “the states are starting to open up and Christmas is coming”. The COP26 climate summit (Glasgow) with 100 world leaders attending has been on the calendar since the Abbott government signed up to its 2030 emissions reduction target at the Paris summit six years ago. The Australian states and territories – Liberal and Labor – have risen to the challenge. This week the “second party of government”, as the Nationals senate leader Bridget McKenzie refers to her clutch of country politicians, failed to endorse the net-zero target but successfully forced Morrison to abandon any more ambitious targets beyond 26-28 per cent for 2030. They pleaded more time to understand the 900-page proposal Energy Minister Angus Taylor presented them. The Liberal party room, with more regional members than the claimed champions of the bush, supported net zero and Morrison drew praise for reaching a compromise that managed to keep his Coalition government together. But the plaudits may have been premature. In another capitulation, Morrison has abandoned any plan to legislate a road map similar to the British Climate Change Act that Sydney independent Zali Steggall has modelled for her private member’s bill. She cites the British legislation with the stinging rejoinder that any 2050 net zero without a strong interim target is meaningless. The Greens, meanwhile, are fundraising for billboards featuring Joyce holding a lump of coal with the statement, “If you vote Liberal, you get Barnaby. This time vote Greens.” In this zero-sum game of climate politics, being a do-next-to-nothing government riding on the back of the states looks like a losing strategy. [We await the launch of one Anthony Albanese. We can dream?].


From my notes/theatre: In 1980 Malcolm Robertson cast me as the caretaker in Comedians, a comedy/drama, about a school for would-be working class comedians by Trevor Griffiths for Playbox, with Bill Zappa, Stephen Clark, Shane Bourne, Rob Harrison, Ron Challinor, John Wood, Charles (Bud) Tingwell, Sean Myers, Carl Carmichael, John Heywood and Ian Mawson on piano. A wonderful play, one of my favourites, not only for the brilliant text and Malcolm’s excellent production, but also for the opportunity to see at close hand the various talents of actors of the calibre of Bill Zappa, Shane Bourne, Ron Challinor and Bud Tingwell. One of those parts to my liking, as in a few lines only, business here and there, degree of difficulty to a minimum and the fascination alongside these Australian stage acting veterans. "Fun" in other words, and getting paid for it, albeit the usual minimum wage. Shane and Ron in particular, were masters of onstage comedy, delivery and timing, far far better than any text book. Bill was an intense (excellent) performer, on and off stage. I must make mention of Carl Carmichael, the one casting error (as I saw it) by Malcolm. Carl had this strange aura of a sergeant-major about him, a man of substance, authority, detail. Alas, no actor. He carried a tape recorder around backstage, with a record of the other actors lines (in his voice) and pauses for his lines. So here he would be, in my/our dressing room, earplugs in, coming out with his lines. After about three performances I was forced to tell him to piss off, which he did to his credit. The problem was if any actor said or did something slightly different onstage, poor Carl was thrown, requiring the other actors to cover for him. He thought he was very good but sadly, as I saw it, the man was out of his depth. I had a “difference” with Sean Myers during the run. He was supposed to leave a parcel onstage for me to discover and forgot one night. I talked my way out of it. The following night he did it again, so I stormed into his separate dressing room and screamed at him “You ever do that again Sean and I’ll knock your teeth right through your f##king ugly head.” And stormed out. I was bluffing obviously, a paper bag springs to mind, and anyway, he was a handsome bastard, but it did the trick. It was during Comedians Charles “Bud” Tingwell kindly told me the complete history of his years in England as an actor, including all the famous people he worked with and before that his involvement in World War 2. Bud’s a nice fellow, a gentle man, but he did go on at times. The final scene (Act 3) between Bill and Bud was as good as any two-hander I’ve seen for the writing and performances, but also because it allowed me the opportunity to get some dressing room peace. I sneaked upstairs to a hidden area and watched these two do their stuff half a dozen times. [Interestingly I forgot a cue for Tyler Coppin in Picasso at the Lapin Agile at least 4 times (200 performances) thus a similar type of righteous anger from Tyler.] 


There are these small seemingly insignificant changes with ageing. Forgetfulness obviously, accompanied by 'can't be bothered' and physical changes, walking in particular. Reality, rather than whinging. A sudden unexpected burst of energy may lead to me posting on www.ello8.com for no particular reason, but by and large, my body (and mind) tells me to change my ways. Clearly I'm much more comfortable in bed rather than the usual up and at 'em. This is simply to say farewell, look after yourselves. [0412-244-966].


Ban gambling advertisements, Crown the Grand Pricks?...Comedy: Minister for Regionalisation Bridget McKenzie claims her party had stood up for ‘‘the most marginalised people in this country’’ Refugees?...Already at 90,000 words this year. Can't somebody shut me up?...My billy lids suggested I film a video to be shown at my wake? Maybe I will. The one chance to get them to listen?...Them and us? 500 of the general public to attend this year’s Melbourne Cup, with 7000 going to members, corporate sponsors and owners of competing horses, ditto allocations for private and public schools, etc etc... When it happens I'm liking the way the champ went, Marlon, in The Godfather, perfect?...For Collingwood & Scott Morrison: "Patience - Of whose soft grace, I have her sovereign aid, And rest myself content." [Shakespeare]...Cliff Ellen. www.ello8.com






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜€πŸ˜Ž

Friday 22nd October, 2021. Out of Lockdown, number 6, up to a point, TODAY! But wait, go for a drive, anywhere except regional Victoria, meaning all to the Mornington Peninsula. Bugger, bugger. Best bet (highlight, socially, emotionally?) Whitecliffs Cafe 8.30am, smoking table, the calm before the storm, months of peace and quiet a memory? A 7.30am haircut? Hackers, stalkers (?) on my iPhone four times daily, home phone as well; ignore, delete. As good a time as any to pack it in, as in my final Salt after 15 years. "It's time!" I've said this before (a number of times) maybe this time? At 85 years and seven months I need what's left to sift through a mountain of past memories while I still retain (most of) them. I'll write another bad play, no kids, no animals, no spoilt teenagers. If I'm really desperate (nighttimes after the friendly 6pm Nine News) I'll watch repeats, Series 3 of Succession and the super rich, slick, ambitious, jealous, ruthless, ugly one-liners, maybe pause for a dose of Antiques Roadshow half way through as a balance? We miss Eric Pearce and his goodnight message from eons ago. Oh my goodness, will no lockdown make a difference, more importantly do I have any real friends still breathing? There's a feeling of stress, but likely simply old age. Positivity forever, self pity to the backline. Despite the latest rubbishing by Scotty of social media I've found Facebook as a positive help throughout the Lockdown. Sure there’s ratbags, but they’ve always been with us, including Barnaby's Nationals. Nineteen months of Sammy J on radio 774, Painful. I'm being erratic, again. Lockdown stress is real, perhaps. Even so...  


I've been a fan of Miss Marple, the British television series based on the Miss Marple murder mystery novels by Agatha Christie. Nothing fancy, all about style, relaxing. All twelve. I particularly admired the part of the second detective, who basically had no lines of consequence but to my mind the perfect role. We all have (had?) ambitions, that was one of mine. 


ABC Insiders, Sundays: "We're a very broad church" said the Herald-Sun's James Campbell referring to his newspaper. Broad? Sadly Insiders has lost it's punch without Barrie Cassidy. Australia's flagship no more. Katharine Murphy, Niki Savva maybe, but David Speers in the chair, forever 'chipping in' on some, leaving others to sprout, unimpressed? Ditto Virginia Trioli and her facile questions to Danny Andrews -  "What assurances can you give us?"


Personal opinions, saltless: The Liberal Party's continuous demonisation of refugees. At the last election the Libs maintained the Labor climate change ideal was – ‘‘economy wrecking’’. Now a back-flip by News Limited, also known as Scotty's bible, for political reasons, the intention that is, not the actions. Simple reality? Legislate to mandate ‘‘net zero’’ by 2050 and have it passed with the support of the opposition and the cross bench? Promises promises, how about by 2030? The Auditor-General is underfunded. FOI is actively undermined. Likewise our ABC. The ‘‘look over there’’ media diversion technique has been perfected. Pork-barrelling to buy the re-election of the Liberal Party. Josh Frydenberg is Treasurer for the Liberal Party, certainly not for Victoria. Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce claims ‘‘we won’t be held hostage’’. Nonsense, that's exactly what Barnaby is doing, deliberately, in protecting his own interests (mining) at the expense of farmers and the vast majority of Australians. Was Sydney faster (COVID) than Melbourne? Yes, heavily subsidised by the federal liberal party. World's longest lockdown, yes, vaccine distribution problems early on. Conclusion: In the circumstances Victoria/Daniel Andrews, has done well in following the science, including errors along the way, "built-in" as they call it. Lockdown is almost over, replaced by blame game as always. To refer to Dan as 'Dictator Dan' - small minded nonsense, 95% of his decisions based on the advice of health officials, experts, so to speak? And branch stacking? Been a feature of both parties forever and a day, like slush funds, they never go away. Having said this, there's sure to be corruption somewhere within this system. Night follows day, secrecy follows corruption and so on. As for our Labor leader Anthony Albanese, I'm still not sure if his focus is on our Prime Minister or Bill Shorten? Basically they're all crooks, a question of degree, proving my point every time they all sign up for another wages increase, to themselves. Presently there's corruption hearings in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, clouding our minds, politicians, crooks, local councils and suspicions galore, including the motivations of the commissions themselves. No bitterness, in fact looking forward to Scotty and Peter being shown the door at the next election, despite Albanese. Am I tipping a Labor victory come the election? YES! After all, I correctly tipped Evening Peal to win the Melbourne Cup in 1956. Ditto the mighty magpies winning a dozen or more games, season 2022, and, as always, a pot of Carlton draught from the tap, in company, soon. Well, hope anyway. 


I wonder about Peter Dutton, so powerful, and a family man. What's his thinking for those asylum seekers stuck inside the Park Hotel the past two years? Ditto the children in Nauru? Ditto the children and wives (of former Australian ISIS supporters), now in capture living in tents the past three years, and obviously the Biloela family. And Julian Assange? Have you seen how Peter walks? That grey suit, haircut, confidence, power. Strutting?   


Classic stuff: In a promise to voters ahead of the next election, Mr Morrison told Parliament the climate plan being developed would show a great benefit to the country because it had the right balance without putting a price or tax on carbon. ‘‘If you have the right plan it is a positive impact.’’ Challenged by Labor on the modelling for the plan, Mr Morrison said the goal was to put a transition in place to affordable and reliable energy rather than rush the change. ‘‘If you have a credible plan, with the proper transparency Australia is well known for, then it can be a great positive for Australia,’’ he said. The government has not revealed its plan, its modelling, its emission forecasts or its spending measures. ‘‘These are his principles, and if you don’t like them he has others?’’ [Double dutch, a show about nothing.] 


I stand corrected: All these years of assuming the idiots content in the various television dramas were overwritten for dramatic effect now must be re-assessed. True, I'd dodge shows featuring spoilt kids, a reality best left to others. Now, so many refusing vaccination for ridiculous reasons brings home to roost the idiot reality, highlighting this sameness. Older and wiser? 


And our former innocent Attorney-General, the untouchable Christian Porter and his blind trust (slush fund) to pay his legal fees (against the ABC) opposed by Peter Dutton on Scotty's instructions?...Why would anyone wear a grey suit?...Talking grey, I spot two smallish grey birds. I take one step towards and off they fly, exactly, same direction, parallel. Why?...Bought a pack of 4 Peters drumsticks after a decade without. Welcome back. Sweets. So easy now...Got to rush, haircut...Finally - "The Devil hath power to assume a pleasing state"...Keep yourselves nice...Arrivederci...Cliff Ellen.  www.ello8.com 


1986. Living Rooms at Lindon, an old mansion in Acland Street, St Kilda, written by Paul Davies. A lot of fun in cramped circumstances at Lindon, with 58 full house performances. Kevin and Rosie were much in love offstage. I really enjoyed my time with this group, rough as it all was. Caz, Peter and Paul were the heart and soul of Theatreworks, talented to boot, in a raw sort of way. The setting was three rooms, an 1890's mansion, a room rental property and an art gallery, each scene some 30 minutes, all coming together for a finale scene in conclusion. The audience obviously being shuffled room to room. Physically demanding for me as, unlike the other performers, I was in every room requiring quick costume/character changes in that time when the audience made the move. Some may well say all I changed was the costumes? 


CAST: Kevin Cotter, Rosie Tonkin, Paul Davies, Peter Aland, Peter Sommerfeld, Caz Howard, Leonie Hurry. [Directed by Caz, Paul & Peter.] SET: Theatreworks. Gallery, Drawing Room & Flatette taped on floor, a noticeboard full of socialist nonsense, 4 cup coffee percolator, 2 clean coffee cups, 6 dirty broken cups. 

CAZ [TO PAUL] I told you darling it’s not working. Why wont you listen. You’ll have to come up with something funnier or they’ll go to sleep. 

PAUL I can’t find my pad. Are we going to have Mao Tse Tung? 

CAZ We can’t start without a warm-up darling.

PAUL I might think of something funny during the warm-up? 

CAZ The drawing room scene needs work. 

PAUL I can’t work without my pad darling. 

ENTER CLIFF, ROSIE, KEVIN. Kevin & Rosie have been arguing. Lots of kisses, cuddles, as if nobody has seen each other for 25 years. 

CAZ  Cliff, can you and Rosie go for a walk & explore your relationship. Discover how you felt when you first asked Rosie to be your mistress. 

CLIFF Good idea Caz. [She’s got to be kidding?]

ROSIE What a great idea Caz. That’s brilliant. [Sadly, she means it]
CLIFF I’d rather run the play right now. Walk later today. [She might forget?] 


CAZ We will. After Mao Tse Tung. Explore the character Cliff. Get to the base.
CLIFF Bloody Burke & Wills. What base?
CAZ Sorry?
CLIFF Sounds good to me Caz.

CLIFF (THINKING?): I’ll do the first 2 or 3 exercises, fake the old age gag & watch. Give myself time to think of something to say to Rosie. It will need to be believable as Rosie will be sure to report every word to Caz. KEVIN is now fully engrossed in voice warm-ups which were taught to him at the National Drama School. Why? Little Pete has silently entered the giant space, sifting his way through the costumes, saying nothing, missing nothing. Big Pete enters half way through Mao. The old fox pulls the crook back routine. I make a note of that excuse for next time or for the dreaded volleyball. Towards the end of Mao Leonie enters with her customary “Sorry I’m late” piece and her ever present smile. She plunges into the last few exercises in a hopeless albeit enthusiastic fashion. Kevin & Rosie have forgotten their bad mood with one another & are losing themselves in the ecstasy of Mao, or anything else that Caz is likely to suggest. What planet am I on? 

After the torture to the ears & body of Mao, Paul comes up with an interesting directorial point. We listen nicely. We forget...unless Caz agrees, in which case Kevin & Rosie will instantly see the light [Dark?]. Cliff asks a question but only to stave off thoughts of an afternoon walk with Rosie. Cliff may even go so far as to discuss his costume with Little Pete, but that may be stretching credibility. Kevin suddenly discovers a hidden meaning in one of his lines & he becomes wildly excited. Caz agrees with him, but she’s being nice, as in understanding. Cliff tells Kevin he’s talking crap. Try acting! Kevin gets shitty but it's worth it to shut his bullshit up. No chance now as Rosie has also seen the light of Kevin’s amazing insight. Leonie comes up with something from her drama teaching experiences as a parallel. She temporarily stops smiling. Paul & Little are lost but say nothing. Paul again curses his stupidity at forgetting his pad. Pete then speaks in favour of Kevin but it’s clear he’s only practising his intellectuality. Cliff excuses himself for an instant coffee, vaguely wondering what health problems will inflict Rosie today. Cliff greets the bugs at the bottom of his cup. Probably Rosie’s neck today - haven’t had that one for a while. 

AFTERNOON RUN THROUGH. 4PM already. OMG. Another 6pm finish. Rosie’s neck playing up. Caz sympathetic. Probably caused by the emotion of Cliff telling Rosie (on the walk) that he wanted her from the very first moment he laid eyes on her - as the character - at the Gala Ball in East Melbourne. Upmarket acting? She fell for that one. What Gala bloody Ball? Mind you it may well have emanated from the nonsense she was giving me on our “walk”. Tempted to touch her on her bum (in character?) but not worth the risk. Leonie is now worried about her motivation as the Maid. Little Pete has mysteriously disappeared yet again. Must be a sale on at the Op Shop. Big Pete is having trouble with lines, again. Try learning them, or is he timing it all for opening night, the old fox? Kevin is in a lather of sweat because he dropped a glass of water. He’s also worried about his stupid dog. He & Rosie console one another. Paul & Caz are arguing over something. Paul will lose as he has lots to learn about women. We all pause for 10 minutes before running the second half, which gives Caz time to eat her 10th apple. Kevin finds his dog. Paul finds his pad. Leonie is smiling again. Caz thanks me for putting the effort into my walk with Rosie? No worries? 




A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Saturday 16th October, 2021...So much free time in lockdown. Yet, at over 2000 COVID's a day it's head down bum up. Moreso with 'age' handicaps as in walking, exercises generally and particularly gardening. Thinking time on a daily basis. Still some 6 months until the next federal election, or less if Scotty decides "It's Time". Last time he won by promising zilch and getting stuck into Billy Shorten's long list of promises (negative gearing, franking credit refunds from government coffers and tax cuts for the wealthy), God knows how, but it does prove how easily voters are lead by the smell of a quid, a single seat victory. A mix this time on one or two promises, health/child care, appeal to the mommas, and the like. Worry about the cost after the election? More pork barrelling? Obviously security features, submarines forever, coupled with an attack on anything Anthony Albanese has saved up for him, throw in the (his?) outstanding success in beating the COVID monster and the odd Auzzie throwaway line - "She'll be right mate, a hi-viz vest, hard hat, white lab coat, having a beer at a local pub, kick a football." and back they come, easily lead, asking for more. Once upon a time I thought Robert G Menzies was bad enough. Turns out Bob was a saint by comparison. In fact they all were, apart from Tony Abbott. Give this bloke a second gong and we're all in trouble. Maybe after we see what comes of Lady Gladys's appearance before ICAC? A corruption federal commission? Forget it. Scotty and Company invented corruption. And his latest? Softer on climate change? Why not, till after the election? And so it goes...


Would that I could enjoy bowls or woodwork, fishing, gardening, long walks, bird watching, anything to escape those winds and bucketing rain; the inevitability of a power blackout. I have a bad back and I cannot blame Cupid; he deserted me long ago. My body has assumed control. I listen; I have no choice. I’m in constant argument on smoking but losing there too. Beer or coffee without a cigarette is Un-Australian; my necessity for cheerfulness being challenged. Fear of the “grim face” attitude, feeding on misfortune, increased levels of self pity. The ever present fight for the necessary attitude of positivity. ”The value of life lies not in the length of days, but the use we make of them” [Michel Montaigne]. Well said Michel, but you didn’t experience a lockdown, or Scott Morrison’s crusade of fear, or the real mafia (electricity, gas, water retailers and Peter Dutton lookalike heterosexual males) or the oncoming panic attack of a second Melbourne  premiership. 


From The Shot, edited: "Humans have a remarkable ability to acclimatise to almost anything. Consider the fact you’re now somewhat used to spending 22 hours inside, wearing a mask, and treating passing strangers and sales people as free therapy. This adaptability trait is helpful, but it’s also easily weaponised against us. Gradually, the incessantly simmering ideology disguised as news that we absorb leads us to believe nonsensical things we’d know aren’t true if we just thought about them for a few seconds. Clean coal? Phrases are pulled meaninglessly from the void and attached to positive associations and the serious handsome faces of Team Blue, negative connotations and the sweaty mugs of the franking-credit-thieves and grandma-shatterers of Team Red. This effluent is distilled and refined enough for regurgitation throughout the electorate, and these concepts are presented to us as truisms and not just Liberal Party catchphrases that mean sweet f##k all in reality. They are given credence and credibility by a media landscape lacking both. Nothing normalises nonsense, rot and decay like a good persistent narrative. And a sea of talking heads and front pages in the holding-power-to-account industry deciding the whiff of corruption is in fact the smell of dignity and grace and flowers, because it’s wafting from the industry’s favourite politician. Gladys Berejiklian, was one hell of a persistent narrative this week. At a very basic level, journalists are meant to be less chill than this. When a politician resigns following the announcement of a corruption investigation into their conduct – followed closely by two of their senior colleagues – that’s probably not the best moment to blanket the land with hagiography and stoke a narrative that NSW’s ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, is an undemocratic body that has gone too far by taking down a bastion of competence and compassion, a woman unlucky in love, the BEST and most human of us all."  [Enough said?]


Terrorism: Many on social media blame us, ourselves, courtesy of our entry, invasion, to the war in Iraq 2003. Fair enough, and possibly/probably the British and Americans had further involvement with arms dealings, but do they solve anything by harping on the reason? Terrorism is a reality regardless of its handling by our mongrel newspapers and the jittery politicians. It creates fear. It's the NOW. The disasters of innocent killings, coming to us, maybe soon, hopefully never. Coupled with all this, the increased degree of hate/bullying on social media. Nutcase Andrew Bolt copping more than a simple spray. Surely we don't need to take up arms for a different opinion; even so, I'm far from sure. The plus is the certainty of those with all the gold taking action, eventually, to protect their gold, and maybe building a Mexican style Donald Trump wall at the end of Peninsula Link? Busy times for our friends at ASIO. That’s before eight new advanced nuclear subs are built for Australia. In nuclear forces generally and other relevant military capacity, China is of course far behind the U.S. as are all potential U.S. adversaries combined.


From letters, summing up, for mine, the reality: "The epiphany that Morrison and Murdoch must have gone through to be apparently and suddenly embracing net zero by 2050. However, will they be interrogated by the media in general to explain and justify the past decade of wasted time where they held lumps of friendly coal and refused to accept climate change was happening, or will they be allowed to bask in the hypocrisy of their undeserved glory for finally accepting reality and doing something about it." [No chance?]


From the vault: John Steinbeck on critics: "This morning I looked at the Saturday Review, read a few notices of recent books, not mine, and came up with the usual sense of horror. One should be a reviewer or better a critic, these curious sucker fish who live with joyous vicariousness on other men’s work and discipline with dreary words the tiling which feeds them. I don’t say that writers should not be disciplined, but I could wish that the people who appoint themselves to do it were not quite so much of a pattern both physically and mentally. I’ve always tried out my material on my dogs first. You know, with Angel, he sits there and listens and I get the feeling he understands every tiling. But with Charley, I always felt he was just waiting to get a word in edgewise. Years ago, when my red setter chewed up the manuscript of Of Mice and Men, I said the dog must have been an excellent literary critic. Time is the only critic without ambition. Give a critic an inch, he’ll write a play." 


Theatre: We did two seasons of Michael Gow's “Away” late ‘86 and early ‘87 with the same cast. Later in the year we did a Victorian country tour with John Wood and Gillian Jones replacing Alan Cassell and Perth girl Rosemary Barr respectively. There was a third production in 1990. Memories include a weekend at Lake Charm, near Swan Hill where Neil and John began preparing dinner (Greek lamb) at 3pm for an 8pm sit down. I drank two bottles of white while observing their kitchen antics. Two master chefs in a 5 hour marathon. When we finally sat to eat a vote of ‘no smoking’ was passed, much to Annie’s displeasure. An argument followed, allowing me to retire to smoke outside with the  stars for 20 minutes while they sorted it out. Annie (Phelan) lost. A fine cast and many other good memories, other than Paul Goddard’s pettiness at times. I love those country towns, all day to look around, afternoon nap, one show at night, a few beers, bed. They also played table tennis, and after Ross Williams was declared the champion I stepped forward and mercilessly thrashed him. We had a ball. Working under Neil Armfield, first in "Away" (3 productions & touring) and Steve Martin's "Picasso" (4 productions) was something special. I was lucky to get the "Away" part. Ross Williams had recommended me to Neil for the part of Jim. I arrived for the audition at 10am very much the worse for wear after a long night of drinking after a performance of "Living Rooms" for Theatreworks, far from my best, and really did not know much about Neil anyway, a Sydney director? but I had read the Jim scenes once, at home the night before. Why not, a good scene, worth a try? The audition piece was the 'campers scene', where 4 campers spit out a long list of behavioural traits/comments, and (as Ross told me later) Neil wanted to see my reaction to their comments. Alas, I was groggy and lost concentration, so when it came to my line I had forgotten it. Even so, maybe he had an instinct, who knows, but I was not at my best. Maybe because I did not think it any big deal there was no nerves. Whatever, I was lucky. Also lucky in scoring the part of Gaston under Neil in "Picasso". I suggested myself for the part after seeing a workshop of the play at The Malthouse with Bobby Hornery as Gaston. Neil said Barry Otto had it. Apparently Barry then chose a period piece coming to Melbourne at the Comedy Theatre, so I was (perhaps) next cab off the rank. Maybe Bob was MTC busy? Had I not got that first role of Jim in "Away" it's almost certain I would have missed my chance to work with Australia's best theatre director. So much for good luck. As a balance I had my share of bad luck. I missed a few parts, maybe 3 or 4, you move on, no big deal? On the other hand I must have refused around half a dozen. If I didn't like the play, or the part, or the cast (if known) or the director, I wouldn't do it. Stuff it. In the scheme of things best forgotten. Yes, I loved working, but never for the money. I could earn that at racetracks. [I first met Bobby Hornery opening night of The Secret House, starring the lovely Monica Maughan and the talented Ezra Bix. A lovely man. We worked together later on a film (Mick and Richard Molloy's Crackerjack) a week on location, Corowa, pissing ourselves laughing all week.] 


Kurt Vonnegut: "We're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And it's like we're not supposed to dance at all anymore." Let's all get up and move around a bit right now... or at least dance." [The  Bossa Nova?].


COVID, opening up, with caution. Crunch time for the National (divided?) Party, climate change, net zero by 2050? The lump of coal in parliament but a memory. A carbon tax? Why not???...The good times, when the Caulfield Cup was at 3pm, now 5.15pm for what?..."Could, and should, Andrews be called" said The Age, cute as ever, to the Independent Broad-based Anticorruption Commission on branch stacking. This from a newspaper who still hasn't questioned Morrison from his rorting of the grants programs at the last election...Apparently there's been an AFL trade period, nightly news. Is anyone interested?...For peace of mind I find it convenient to ignore anything Chris Ullmann and Shane Jacobson has to say...Peter Dutton’s ban of special morning teas to mark an annual day in support of LGBTQI colleagues; no surprise there...The Greens casino gambling limits. A minuscule target, drop of rain in a storm. The tsunami of gambling commercials every which way. Gambling is gambling. Like the cigarettes, sounds good, means bugger all, and big dollars for the governments....Forever the whinge on pay parity for women's sport. Why?...Are you enjoying your nightly news? Has the branch stacking (which, by the way, is not illegal) comedy got your gander up? How good is Sydney?...To all you letter writers out there, kindly never use “thinking Australians” as a reason for your opinions...We had a laminex kitchen table for 40 years, loved it. All I see now are bloody benches?...Would you be offended over social media ‘‘trolls’’ if you had a direct line to The Australian and the Herald Sun? No? Neither is Scott Morrison..."Ships, wealth, general confidence, all were his; He counted them at the break of day; And when the sun set! where were they? [Byron]...Keep yourselves nice. Cliff Ellen.





A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜₯

Sunday 10th October, 2021. I think of giving this writing caper away, yet the idea of surrender worries me. All over Beethoven. Finito. Rest home and the like, television, shuffling, snookered? Maybe one more federal election, Collingwood 2022? Keep on keeping on, punching. Change is inevitable. What happened to Melbourne, the city? Apps for everything, technology overtaking? Searching for a target, something to aim for. Slim pickings. Political differences we can understand, but so many dills. Anti-vaxxers with tattoos, maybe allergic to condoms? Somehow shake the bars, but how? Move on…   


The old football saying springs to mind - "Have a go ya mug." Specifically, homespun Anthony Albanese. Politics, to put it mildly, is in a state of flux. PM Scott Morrison's slick answers, in feeling invulnerable, in his ability to squash Anthony Albanese and seemingly no evidence to disagree with his opinion. Small yet significant examples, where Scotty brazenly remarks on the French Connection action "It goes much deeper than a contract." Albanese reply along the lines of "a closer examination" rather that attacking Scotty's flip flop reply. Seemingly scared Scotty will turn any reply from Albo into an election action push? Mark Dreyfus and the blonde lady Tanya P may well have good intentions, but even worse, blocked out (of the small light) due to our super bland Albo. True, nothing is certain in life, and at this stage, dare I say it, I can spot light at the end of the Lockdown tunnel. Barring accidents? Another fortnight should clear the air, the thought of a carlton draught from the tap in company, almost, but not quite, as the thought of an early federal election. ‘‘Scott Morrison’s personal ratings have slid over the last three months nationally but are better outside the cities, in Queensland, among older people and males." The obvious difficulty in swallowing the belief against mandating the vaccinations (apart from medical grounds) and so many among us who cannot see our Prime Minister's bullying standards, including News Limited continuous attacks on our state Premier. Yes, the need for a change of government. Sadly many are switching to Independent candidates, more likely former Labor than Liberal. How will this help? The lockdown itself isn't so bad. We each have our little misses, social interaction, filling in time, but we wait, ever patient, hoping for a return to a form of normalcy. The more trying aspect is the stupidity, the constant heightened blame game, finding fault, and highlighted by constant television news, and the obligatory examples of our dickheads heading the crunch, based on uncommon sense. We are told the American submarine deal was better than the French option. Fair enough, but Scotty handled it like the bully on show, again. Have we still got a public service, or has he downgraded them to clerical assistants and taken the outsourcing road, either or both by design? Invulnerable? I'm not into prayer, but it can't hurt to give it a try. Even so...  


Niki Savva, edited: "Morrison desperately needed Berejiklian to succeed to give him his best chance of winning the election. As a loyal Liberal, despite her antipathy, regardless of her complaints to confidantes that she felt patronised, bullied and undermined by him, that he sanctioned briefings by his office against her – or did it himself – she would have nevertheless turned out to campaign for him. Refusal would only have invited retribution. Morrison cashed in on her popularity and traded on her reputation when he could benefit, then he or his surrogates trashed it when it suited. Berejiklian stayed quiet for a long time. Eventually, it got so bad her office rang Morrison’s office demanding they stop."


The blame game, continued. There’s an art form of arrogance in the air. Always has been of course but heightened the longer the lockdown lasts. Everybody knows best. Desperate/dictator Dan, our health system, coulda shoulda. The local council, the Opposition. The financial implications. Everybody’s an expert? Mildura shutdown for a week, blame Dan? The dickheads united? Put up or shut up for mine. Mistakes yes, by all. $15 million Victorian support package for the Arts. I'll stick with Dan. 


Morning glory? The wireless. No Jon Faine, Red Symons? The dreaded winds, whoosh, like intermittent slaps on my backside. Hail bloody stones? The earthquake forgotten. The more they tell us about stress during lockdown the more likely? Daylight saving takes a few days to adjust, particularly mornings. And then the Global outage, horror, no Facebook, Whatsapp or instagram. As Bill Lawry would say "It's all happening". In desperation (up at 6am, really 5am?) listening to Sammy J, misogeny and racism from too much YouTube? Painful as always, corn on demand followed by people dropping rubbish; pick it up, the standard being if you walk past it it's the standard you expect? Worse, Telstra/Foxtel froze on me last night, telephone no joy, office open from 9am-5pm? Go to my APP? Go to hell? Eventually found trouble spots via google and got it working. What of older people without the internet? Still with Sammy J - Altered perceptions - supernatural survivors guide. Give me strength. 


Fame game continued. Samuel Johnson on his car accident June 19, The Project on channel 10: “I woke up and I was really way more famous than I ever remembered being. Photographers were trying to get at me while I was inside and I wasn’t in a hospital – I as either in a mental home or my drink had been spiked. Maybe I was kidnapped, maybe I was clinically insane. So, I thought all kinds of things. I was Russian for a while, I spoke with a heavy Russian accent in three-word sentences for a couple of days, and then I was a Japanese 11-year-old girl, and basically – basically what happens when your brain gets wobbled is you go loopy.” [Did I imagine this? Much more and I'll go loopy?]


Theatre Notes: 1989/90..."See How They Run" by Philip King, directed by Roger Hodgman, with Alan Andrews, Dennis Coard, Sally Cooper, Paul English, Judith McGrath, Richard Piper, Nicki Wendt and Noel Ferrier. I had a small part in this successful old farce as an Army Sergeant, with a cockney accent? Roger, the artistic director at the MTC, was a strange mix. A six week rehearsal period and a six week season and not one note from him. Was I doing the job or was I so bad he had given up on me? When you get too many notes you worry. Well, some do, not necessarily I. If you get none (very rare) you may worry just as much. I didn't worry, more a case of wondering,  going about my business assuming all is well. I had never worked before (or since) with a director who made no communication whatsoever. Richard Piper supposedly taught me the accent, and then proceeded throughout (along with Sally Cooper) to make disparaging remarks as to the quality of said accent - in the nicest of ways, particularly Sally. On one occasion a lady from Manchester came backstage wanting to know which part of Manchester I came from, seriously. [An anti-vaxxer?] Nicki Wendt, the product of a rich family, was one super confident lady, similar to Sally (who I really liked) in that they displayed a super “ring of confidence” and appeared to have a much more friendly attitude to the important people in the Company. Of course I was “one of them”, but there was an instinctive feeling that I was on a lower rung in the friendly stakes. An intruder? None of this bothered me, in fact it provided me with another area of fascination, human nature. I had a great time doing this play. Richard, Dennis, Paul, Alan, and particularly the lovely, talented, Judith McGrath were a joy to work with. Noel Ferrier knew the stage like a real old pro, no doubt from Freddy Parslow's era in that he would defend his space like a tiger, with the odd dirty tricks to see if you would “break”. Making faces at me with his back to the audience? No problem here. Freddy had taught me well. The show played to almost full houses (700 seater at The Playhouse; Vic Arts Centre). Lots of celebrating thereafter. And a rare bonus, being paid a reasonable wage. 


COMEDY: A federal corruption watchdog with Attorney-General Michaelia Cash overseeing it?...The Age, as a common thread for any political p/o/v they want to sprout - ‘‘We were elected to govern, elected to make decisions and that’s what we should be doing,’’ one MP said" [No name?]....More from The age, editorial - "Social media giants must be tamed." Who will tame The Age?...Morrison: ‘‘Social media has become a coward’s palace where people can just go on there, not say who they are, destroy people’s lives and say the most foul and offensive things.’’ Facebook accused of putting ‘‘astronomical profits before people’’ and called for politicians to rein in the power of big tech. He should know...Should Scott Morrison go to Glasgow? Whatever, I couldn't give a monkey's...Gambling advertisements, page after page, The Age, Facebook, Nine News and no doubt everywhere else. Gamble responsibly?...Toby Greene will miss the first five matches of the 2022 season after the league’s appeals board upheld an AFL challenge against the tribunal’s initial three-match suspension for making intentional contact with umpire Matt Stevic. Or under instructions from AFL boss Gill McLachlan?...Paul Fletcher, Alan Tudge, Michaelia Cash, Sussan Ley, Alex Hawke, Bridget McKenzie, Anne Ruston, Stuart Robert, Ken Wyatt, Melissa Price Andrew Gee and Anthony Albanese; hot air expertise?......Dutton: "If you've got nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about." Morrison on Federal ICAC ‘‘certainly not a model we would ever consider at a federal level’’...Ordinary hard working Victorians, says our Danny (Andrews) consistently. Where?...Surely enough evidence to have the vaccine mandate for all workers?..."When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions." [ Shakespeare]...Having said that - Keep yourselves nice. Take a break, a long one, Bali beckons?..Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt.😎

Monday 4th October, 2021.  The lockdown blues, at my age the danger of going crackers in addition to the usual fleeting fear of loneliness. Calling on the familiarity of routines, chopping up a four day supply of vegetables after throwing caution to the winds and sound reasons for doing bugger all. Can I talk to friends? Most have departed leaving one or two who make a practice of reading right-wing press, and unsurprisingly, believe? "Like a beast in a pen I'm cut off; From my friends, freedom, the sun, But the hunters are gaining ground, I've nowhere else to run." [Pasternak]. We yearn for leaders, with human nature as a source, in place of words as a substitute for truth, passion and justice. True democracy does not create resistance. I'm still deciding which is best, imagination or hope, both options when I pay $75 for my 10 week ticket in powerball. Wealth perhaps, I've given up on power. Fruitcake comes to mind. Even so...


It's sickening really. On half a dozen occasions the past few days I've found myself humming along to the Melbourne AFL theme song? A nightmare. I'm waiting for the nightly news to be streamlined, the  future, for example they flash on the next story, click on watch or move to the next. Cuts out the real estate prices, the small business complainers, well, half the news really, mostly nonsense and bias, or more. True, SBS is the best news, the ABC coming from Sydney, but like a masochist I seek the Costello p/o/v (Nine News) under the guise of fairness but in fact a breath away from the Murdoch fear nonsense. 


Yes, Gladys has departed with the ICAC to come, and talk of a Morrison election. Under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, improper conflict of interest or a courageous decision? Suspicions yes, but I'm a wait and see type, guessing is for football commentators and stirrers. A federal anti-corruption watchdog with teeth is a dream beyond my years, even without teeth. Our media? Gladys departs almost with blessings from the Herald-Sun and The Age? Why the farewell fanfare, it’s a corruption commission! And leading dickhead Barnaby rubbishes ICAC, though likely another nail in the idea of a federal counterpart. A Spanish Inquisition? Hey, talk about the good old Melbourne bias. Had it been Danny Andrews they would have crucified him, shoved a million  questions at him, but not Princess Gladys; the Murdoch/News Group influency?  


Years ago I spent 20 years as a public servant. Security cleared to top secret so unable to tell tales, sadly, because I have a headful. Maybe I could tell now being 85 years old, but no. Never trust them, then or now. They may look innocent, probably you don't give them a second thought, but believe me you're way off the reality. A mix of crooks, intelligent people (even some of them are crooks) honest Joe's and many plodders, at various levels of so called competence. Not unusual to discover an intelligent clerical assistant and a plodder senior clerk. A long apprenticeship into human nature and particularly useful when the switch to acting came about. Not so much as a performer, more about reading the various types one encounters through the pyramid of the profession. Kindly do not misinterpret. The beauty of the acting profession, despite like all professions the dickhead content, is the high percentage of truthful types, in your face at times, but always a journey well worth taking/taken? A pyramid in the sense of one dying, move up another notch, or dreaming? And where did I sit in this conglomerate of bullfrog? Perhaps, but uncertain, one rung lower that the intelligentsia but thankfully aware of what was going on around me despite my (seemingly?) friendly nature. Unlike the 1950's ASIO (and Mister Dutton) now streamlined in the security sense, heading (if not already there) towards big brother. They could swat me like a fly if they felt like it. No stories. No courage. Recorded, written, in perpetuity? No, all in memory. Sook? A pity. Do they have emails in heaven?   


Join Faine, edited. "At what point does the COVID cabinet concede the strategies being used to try to influence behaviour are not working? The road map has a fundamental flaw: it is based on science not emotion. Scientists are not very good at emotions. Asking people to be logical and rational is not working. The government needs to try something else. Many of those not getting vaccinated are wary and suspicious of authority – they may have unpaid fines, warrants, tax or social security debts and avoid interaction with government as much as possible. They need reassurance not finger wagging. Speaking of needing to recalibrate, a gold star and elephant stamp to Josh Frydenberg last week for executing not one but two acrobatic marvels. Pragmatically realising that the community demands climate leadership from elected representatives, and as nothing concentrates the mind of a politician more than a looming ballot box, he made the case for net zero emissions by 2050. Then, only a few days later, in a frenzied week, the federal Treasurer also suddenly discovered the housing affordability crisis, the solution to which is apparently to hinder borrowing. Which is a bit like applying Savlon cream to a shark bite. Anything to avoid dealing with the actual problem: first-home buyers being outbid by investors assisted by negative gearing, surely the most absurd and regressive tax subsidy ever invented." [Always a good read.]


At least they (The Age) printed it. Page 7. Well, they had to: Malcolm Turnbull has claimed Prime Minister Scott Morrison put Australia’s national security at risk in the way he has handled the decision to dump a $90 billion submarine contract with France and instead build a nuclear-propelled fleet with the United States and Britain. He also revealed that he has spoken to Emmanuel Macron since the shock announcement two weeks ago despite Mr Morrison being unable to get the French President on the phone. Also accused his successor of ‘‘extraordinary subterfuge and deceit’’ that would have a ‘‘real impact on Australia. One of Australia’s national security assets was ‘‘trustworthiness’’ and Mr Morrison’s ‘‘acolytes and admirers’’ were bragging about his ‘‘clever sneakiness. This is an appalling episode in Australia’s international affairs and the consequences of it will endure to our disadvantage for a very long time.’’ 


BULLSH/THEATRE NOTES: By Bill Reed and Ron Edwards, (1978), directed by Malcolm Robertson, stage managed by Tessie Hill, with Athol Compton, Brian Hannan, Fred Parslow and John Wood, for the Playbox Theatre Company. A comedy, basically a story of three old timers telling yarns outside a pub that was about to be demolished. A challenge, as I was coming out of the suburbs (sometimes referred to as "the sticks") into the big city where the top professionals roamed, as it seemed back then. It went well, though stressful adjusting early on, and a follow up production (More Bullsh) in the same year, re-written with the three characters, Fred, John and myself. Bullsh introduced me to two characters who were to have a strong influence on my work, Malcolm and Fred. I initially refused this play and only accepted after long discussions with Malcolm who convinced me otherwise. Freddy Parslow? Like the footballer, a gentleman off the field, and a man on a rampage when he crossed the white line? Perhaps not quite. But oh, how he tested me. Freddy is loved by audiences, and rightly so because he entertains them. He’s very clever, very quick witted, and obviously talented, but he guards (his) stage like a blue heeler. He’s the king. Step out of line, temporarily capture his audience, however slight, and he bites. Getting a good laugh? Ad libbing? Whatever, Freddy controls, a past master supreme at ad libbing. Indeed it can happen at any time, so if one tends to “go up” at one of his unscheduled comments, he will add more, break you if you’re not strongly into the character. True, once the audience sees you’ve lost control, they will laugh loudly at your discomfort, but it upsets the balance of the performance, and does little justice to the writer’s intentions. During one performance of Bullsh Brian Hannan, also very good at ad libbing, decided to take the King on. There followed five minutes back and forth until Brian was forced to concede. Every comment from Freddy met with audience approval, while John and I looked on in wonder, waiting patiently for the real play to continue. Athol Compton was an aboriginal actor who found it difficult to cope with Fred. Athol only had the one long story to tell, a comic story which he managed to stuff up one way or another every night bar one. And on this one occasion Athol got a deserved laugh from the audience, which made us very happy for him. Freddy quipped, out of earshot from the audience “About bloody time” and Athol, so chuffed at his success, retorted, clear as a bell for all to hear, “Get stuffed Fred”. I was playing a 70 year old with a huge piece of rag as a handkerchief so I able to hide my loss of control. Athol quickly departed the stage, at best confused. Freddy was a joy offstage, a generous gentleman, but his antics onstage required a higher level of concentration. Malcolm’s contribution to my learning process consisted of three things...his niceness, which made us want to please (a trait of most good directors); his trust in you which gave us confidence, and his quick ability to see what was working, and more importantly, what wasn’t. A testing time, the realisation the fourth wall (the audience) must be ever present as a necessary part of the play, without thinking, by instinct. The importance of technique. 


From Kairen in Brunswick: "While John Hewson, Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating turn their considerable intellects to analysing the big strategic choices facing Australia, Scott Morrison stands smirking on the steps of Number 10 waving a packet of Tim Tams and Anthony Albanese asks himself what the bloke at the pub thinks."...Malcolm Turnbull, John Hewson, Paul Keating - championing Australia's international reputation, including treatment of refugees, inaction on climate change...Now our COVID numbers are on the rise the East Brighton Liberal residents (mainly Melbourne supporters) come out of the  woodwork...The COVID death toll in the USA has passed 700,000. Worse still, the situation in Port Moresby, PNG. Think about it?...Magpieland: Copeland Trophy to Crisp from Maynard. Spot on, well done...Ask yourself - why did Morrison travel to the USA?..."The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient." [Augustine]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Thursday 30th September, 2021. You can be double vaccinated and willing to self isolate - yet, you are still not allowed entry into Western Australia and Queensland? Where is the sense, the humanity? To a larger extent the humanity, the treatment by our government, of the the Biloela family, the silent invitation to allow the Yanks and the British to crucify Julian Assange. The law of averages and the so called (News channels 7, 9 and 10) 'mass' demonstrations. Mass? Even in my (formerly beloved) Northcote? Count any group with a membership in excess of 300,000 (building contractors) and you can bet on it - there will be 2000 dickheads, protesters. Melbourne, the lockdown capital of the world! The past, the future and more important, the 'now'. The constant lifestyle of 'looking forward to something/anything is almost a memory? We are all getting to a stage, what is it now, two years? A memory blur? Note: Ignore Nightly News for a week or more, COVID to start, over 800 a day (rising) until the Melbourne football team (players and supporters) mania subsides. Vaccination rates, the woes of business owners, rule the airwaves. Politics will sneak in at times, as it does, but best to forget anything coming from the mouths of Payne, Joyce and our Treasurer, not to mention our Prime Minister's overseas activities about nothing in particular. Well, almost nothing. Building his platform to go to the next election on the strength of the Coalition to secure our borders. I shouldn't laugh. It's serious. And so it goes...


Paul Bongiorno. The Saturday Paper, edited: Submarines: As late as June, Morrison was personally assuring the French president, Emmanuel Macron, that the contract was still on track despite problems. There was much backslapping in the courtyard of the Élysée Palace. In the same month, Le Drian says he called his counterpart, Marise Payne, and specifically put to her the option of converting the contract to the nuclear-powered Barracuda-class submarines that France manufactures. He says he received no reply. Beyond South Australian jobs worries, Morrison could have a greater problem if his nuclear-propelled arrangement is seen not so much as bolstering our security but rather creating a threat to it. Not surprisingly, that’s China’s reaction. Paul Keating accuses Morrison of unnecessarily making an enemy of China. Keating is seen as a China dove and regarded by China hawks in the defence and security establishment as being nostalgic for the China that existed before Xi Jinping’s assertiveness. But he surely has a point that instead of sabre rattling we should be spending a lot more effort in diplomatic rapprochement. After all, China is our major trading partner. Keating says the party under Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese has been complicit with the Liberals in selling out Australia’s strategic autonomy to the US. Keating says Labor has gone along with Morrison as Australia “turns its back on the 21st century” for the “jaded and faded Anglosphere”. Albanese did not have a murmur of dissent when he pushed for backing of the AUKUS pact in shadow cabinet and the party room. One senior Labor figure says all the factions are committed to winning the election. No one wanted Morrison to have the luxury of framing the campaign in terms of Labor being pro-China and anti-America. [Most of this will wash over us, more to the point the words of Sean Kelly...]


Sean Kelly, The Age, edited: Politically, the government has now begun its shift away from the COVID present to a focus on the future. The week before last, the AUKUS agreement was announced. In some ways the agreement is significant, but it is also worth noting that its main effect is to bind us more closely to Britain and the US – nations to which most Australians would have assumed we were already pretty closely bound. It does so on the basis of submarines that should be delivered around 2040. In both cases, this is a particular version of the future we’re being sold. We have our eyes on it, the government says – but don’t worry, we can prepare for the future by continuing to do pretty much what we were already doing. Concrete action can wait a few decades. This is implausible, of course. But like many fictions, it’s quite appealing, isn’t it? The sort of thing that might be reduced to a comforting slogan and then accepted by a remarkable number of people as a substitute for reality itself – just in time for an election. [And more directly Hugh White's warning...]


Hugh White’s words “drags us closer to the front line of a war”. In a pathetic justification, Scott Morrison claims the submarines will “make the region safer”. Instead of visionary, capable leaders, we have failed adman Morrison and hawkish ex cop Peter Dutton further deepening our dependence on the US and moving us closer to war. The only moral war the Morrison government should be fighting is the war against climate change.


Change of pace, the  past? My days are best described as procedural. I move slowly, item to item, carefully, day in day out. I pulled out some of my theatre notes: The "12 Angry Men" cast of English and Irish comedians. 2004, Perth, Wellington and Adelaide festivals. A great group of comedians, lots of fun, to and fro rubbishing of Aussies, always in good spirits but strangely couldn't take to Jeff Green, reserved, above it, whatever. [They did a later tour with an Australian cast which won Awards; Marcus Graham, Shane Bourne, Aaron Blabey, Russell Fletcher, Peter Flett, George Kapiniaris, Rob Meldrum, Alex Menglet, Nicholas Papademetriou, Peter Phelps, Richard Piper and Henri Szeps.] On about the 4th performance as we were about to file onto the stage Jeff whispered in my ear "When are you going to get the accent right?" A smart arse? I let it slide for a couple of nights and replied, via my line (with an estimated 98% accuracy), as we were about to enter, whispered, "At least I can act". Bullseye! As for my accent; what accent? I did OK with one word, 'eyeglasses', southern yankee, try it? The english actors played the characters directly, and in this case it proved superior to the Aussie cast (in my biassed opinion obviously), digging around for meaning/subtleties/shades, presumably to make their characters more interesting. Particularly important is that no character can be real unless it contains a strong element of the performer’s own reality. In theatre for “exciting and significant” it can often mean “pretentious and meaningless”. A comedy is NOT a farce, it's about the reality...of the characters and their situation - nothing to do with “getting laughs”. The actors who compulsively work themselves into a style that cannot ultimately serve either the play or themselves, but which offers the security of known habits, proven effectiveness? For example: playing a character in a comedy who has not got humour about themselves - the humour coming from the character in the particular situation. The moment the character/performer loses truth, or appeals for laughter by stepping out of the character, it may well get laughs, but it ceases to be funny in the way it should be. Some actors (with popular reputations) have too much sense of audience and too little feeling of what is inside the character, and too little feeling for their on stage co-performers. They tend to play "out front" producing an unreal effect. In this industry we have our share of known actors who are bad actors, and good actors who will generally be unknown forever. This is the nature of any job where there are large numbers of people available for few positions. And again - so it goes. [Actors, performers, in this COVID age are doing it tough, with nothing from our federal government. We were lucky, way back when. We impatiently wait, for their rebirth.]


Tax breaks for the rich, so who pays off this national debt, your kids and grandkids, or the sitting shots? - Age pension, family tax benefits, disability support pension, JobSeeker and sole parent payment?...Again with the tennis, golf and what? Boating? and 15 kilometres? Bugger off...News: "A leading epidemiologist says" They grow on trees, like Melbourne supporters?...True, the Western Bulldogs lost the 2021 premiership, but the better news is they finished the season ahead of 16 other teams...Farewell to John Elliott, a one-eyed Carlton man, credit for donating the Malthouse to the  Playbox Theatre, 1986..."Few would begrudge victory for the Dees" said The Age editorial last Saturday. I begrudged. The triptych, Morrison, Lockdown and Melbourne. Imagine if The Age editorial said "Few would begrudge victory for Collingwood."..."You are old; nature in you stands on the very verge, of her confine." [Shakespeare]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’”

Friday, 24th September, 2021. AFL Grand Final 2021. Tomorrow. 7.15pm. Optus stadium, WA. Melbourne to win. To more serious matters, Victorian businesses wanting a roadmap to prosperity. Don't they always, bless them? Meanwhile poorer Australians and the increasing risk of homeliness, while the rich get richer. Along comes the entitled Christian Porter and his blind trust, "No conflict of interest?" And I'm a monkey's uncle? France fuming, submarine contracts cancelled. Prime Minister high tails it to the USA, the Porter case now seemingly closed. Christian "Upholding parliamentary standards?" Corruption wins - again, and a by-election is averted? Summarising, two disastrous errors by Scott Morrison as examples of a leader out of his depth. The sooner we see the backside of this salesman the better. The federal election by next March (democratic election?) and our security (and economic reform?) under Morrison and Dutton; Wot, me worry? More importantly, not being a golfer or tennis player it's November before the pleasure of a pot of beer from the tap? Bloody Andrews? Time to show him the door? Mandatory vaccination for construction workers a wrong move, where was the compromise? The alternative (Matthew Guy) has a dubious record, but so what? The entitled call it communism? If we can stomach Morrison we may as well include Matthew Guy. Sorry Danny, you mean well, but the power has become you. As for me: Memories of the past obviously, when Melbourne was a city with soul, art, adventure, bide away the hours, come to grips with a past long gone, what future? Obviously, one day at a time, the now, no choice? Danny at 64%, give him another chance? Scarlett O’Hara, “I'll think about that, tomorrow”? Even so...  


Professor Margaret Hellard: In addition to differences in the modelling, MPs from both NSW and Victoria told The Age that political motivations also helped shaped pathways out of lockdown, which will result in Victorians waiting up to a month longer for some freedoms granted to NSW residents from early October. Under Victoria’s road map, home visits will be banned and gyms and swimming pools will remain shut until 80 per cent of residents have received two doses of coronavirus vaccine. By contrast, vaccinated residents in NSW will be allowed to travel around the state, have friends and family visit their homes and attend theatres and cinemas when the state hits its 70 per cent double-dose target, which is expected to be on October 9. Bars, restaurants and cafes will be limited to takeaway only until October 26 when Victoria is expected to hit its 70 per cent doubledose target. Only then will venues be allowed to provide an outdoor dining service. For indoor dining, Victorian restaurants and cafes will have to wait until 80 per cent of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated, which isn’t expected to be until early November. A density quotient of one person per four square metres will remain in place. ‘‘In essence they are all pretty much saying the same thing – that you need to get really high levels of vaccination to get control of the pandemic,’’ 


Facebook post: "What is something that should be taught in school but isn't?" I answered - 'Thinking', which transported me back to my school days, particularly grade 5 onwards. Other than arithmetic there was never any discussion. History (Mr Stephens) form 5 consisted of the teacher writing on the blackboard for the full subject which we had to copy to our exercise books, which was in the textbook anyway. Learning by rote. Ditto commercial law (Mr Clancy) and other subjects of information without discussion. True, some students were shy and would keep it shut anyway, but always others wanting to question and told to shut it. I spent some periods outside in the corridor for opening my mouth, teaching? Most of it from my p/o/v was brainwashing, but no chance to test it? And others, now likely long gone, wondering why I hated school? These were not my original thought so much as my father doing most of the questioning for me. I'm told it's all different in today's classes. Good for them. Or is it? Like our Prime Minister I'll transfer said thoughts to the 'too hard' basket. There are certain "feelings" which stay with you forever, a song, the association of a secret love, ditto the last day at school. The joy of freedom. On the other hand, perhaps the beginning of not being able to take instruction?   


Paul Keating, edited: "So poisonous are the Liberals towards China they are prepared for Australia to lose its way in the neighbourhood of Asia, in search of Australia’s security from Asia, by submission to yet another strategic guarantor – 240 years into our history. This strategy amounts to a massive bet on the United States and its staying power in Asia. Rather than Australia finding its own way around the region, including with China, as we have done so well in the past, Morrison and Labor have tied us to the unknown endurance of the United States and the pain it is prepared to wear in defence of what it believes are its core Asian interests. I have said before, but it is worth repeating: the United States is a naval power, whereas China is a continental power. A continental power with the largest land mass in Asia occupied by 20 per cent of humanity. And competently served by a modern military. The United States, by its aircraft carrier fleets, enjoys naval force projection but that projection is fuelled from its bases on the American west coast. Its capacity in a military exchange with China will be limited by the attenuation of its supply lines and the vulnerability of its surface vessels to Chinese submarines and ballistic missiles. I have also said before, but worth repeating, that when it comes to major international conflagration, land beats water every time. Through this submarine purchase, Australia surrenders its naval forces to the command of the United States, while setting itself into a military position incapable of defeating Chinese landbased and sea-denial forces. It takes a monster level of incompetence to forfeit military control of one’s own state, but this is what Scott Morrison and his government have managed to do." [Labor MP Peter Khalil, a former defence intelligence officer, said Mr Keating was a ‘‘living legend’’ but was wrong to ‘‘so casually discount China’s aggressiveness’’ in areas like the South China Sea, Xinjiang and Tibet. ‘‘Keating is wilfully blind to China’s international aggression through cyber attacks, which have caused major disruption to our university and corporate sectors,’’ Mr Khalil wrote in an opinion piece. ‘‘His article colourfully and rightly highlights the narrowness of the Morrison foreign and defence policy, yet Keating’s attacks reveal that like Morrison, he has fallen into the trap of binary thinking – that Australia’s only choice is between a declining US or a rising China.’’] You decide?


Conspiracy theories are a part of life; here, there, everywhere, like Pimpernel and the Baroness. Proving it is another matter. Letting it get the better of you only helps psychologists, like conspiracy itself, an ongoing business, ever growing. Lawyers, police, crooks, protesters, politicians, the ins and outs of a duck's bum. Some thrive on it, poison for mine. A library of books on who killed John Kennedy? The motivations behind anti-vaxxers? I suppose, particularly stuck in lockdown, the fact of no chance of a pot of carlton draught from the tap brings the need to create a form, any form, of daily pleasure. I was sitting here only yesterday, or was it the day before, heavy rain outside, nothing to do, all day to do it in, smoking too much, and then a thought, an epiphany? Stop smoking? I fancied chicken and chips. Why? Bloody rain. Five minutes later it stopped. Got in the car, home with the feast, shower, nap, and woke up, no smokes for 3 hours. Another hour of YouTube amounting to 4 hours of Nosmo King. Time now 4pm, time for my one stubby, and a cigarette. Small mercies? 


Why the sympathy and degree of difficulty for Michael Voss as Carlton coach? At probably $1 million a year for 3 years he's an economic winner for life... Statistics on the decline of revenue streams? Any stats on profit streams?...At least 2 decades before the nuclear powered submarines get here? Interesting to know how farmers are faring in future European trade deals. A bold strategic move or politics?...Construction shutdown, 2 weeks, mandatory vaccinations stupidity. Melbourne, John Setka to separate the sheep from the wolves - right/left wing fascists, extremists, conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers? The question is - are the wolves union members and if not (as Setka implies) where are their sympathies?...Can it get any worse: Morrison, Dutton, Payne, Joyce and Albanese?...Meaningless award: Coach of the year, before the grand final...The various reasons why midfielders get all the Brownlow votes; nonsense. The umpires, never high on the intellectual list, simply look at the statistics after the game and vote accordingly...If she does not want to step aside, ‘‘she can go’’ said Scott Morrison after Christine Colgate handed out a few Cartier watches, Australia Post....Nobody ever says it nowadays - "I'm not made of money" - my mother?...Imagine had the french submarine deal been with the USA and we opted out the night before?....Some things cause laughter. Lewis and his latest girlfriend with exceptionally large breasts, and Marty's question (Curb Your Enthusiasm) "Have you set a date yet for when you're going to look at her face?"  It's all in the delivery...The earthquake, the Chinese?...The beauty of the AFL Grand Final, assuming you don't support either side, is the thought after the final siren - Thank God it's over! 2022; GO Pies...For the protesters: "Fame may be compared to a scold; the best way to silence her is to let her alone, and she will at last be out of breath in blowing her own trumpet" [Fuller]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’”

Sunday, 19th September, 2021. My birthday Wednesday @ 85.5. At my age I celebrate in halves, heavily focusing on the quality of my life, almost a daily basis? A rare message complaint after last week's Salt; answered "Everyone's entitled. Best you consider thinking past your personal brick wall. What colour is it?" No reply. Somebody reads my nonsense? Roadmap out of lockdown, gradual, cautious. A glimmer of hope? Sticking with Desperate Dan. Another Scotty deflection (self creative crisis?), the umpteenth, submarines, Casper, the Attorney-General, our not so friendly ghost, and way down at the rear of the pack, our 'Albo' - calling for funds, more females, and anything unlikely to be heard, including free Julian Assange, the Biloela family? His political clout lately is starting to compare with our Minister for Women, Marise (rubber stamp) Payne. A day at a time but whose counting? The Russians are coming, sorry, the Chinese. Never fear. The stress factor, the empathy factor? Check with your psychologists, on every tree. The Yankee Doodle Dandies have got our backs. And all those small businesses? Still suffering from brainwashing, Scotty's way. We live with fools, ever thus, highlighted in this pandemic, freedom fighters in Melbourne central, suits in Canberra, laid on. The moving forward concept, courtesy of your nearest tree? Even so...


Before Paul Keating's letter to The Age 16/9  - "By and large, anything written or said by Chris Ullmann should be taken as a double grain of salt." Paul's letter: "I know Chris Uhlmann has a sideline writing fiction, but he seems to be getting his two jobs confused (Opinion, 15/9). He accuses me of saying China bears no fault for the trouble in our relationship – this is not what I said, as readers would find if they checked my article in the Australian Financial Review of September 3 for themselves. The main purpose of my article to which Uhlmann takes exception was not to set out areas where I disagree with Beijing but to make clear the dangers to Australia in its current approach. Uhlmann follows Peter Dutton and the Prime Minister in the growing chorus of Australian hawks who hear the drums of war beating and compare the current situation in East Asia to Europe in the 1930s, with China being portrayed as the equivalent of the rampaging Nazis (Uhlmann’s reference: ‘‘The Anschluss of the South China Sea’’). This imagery and the overblown language that goes with it – ‘‘Almost all Beijing’s grievances with Australia are commands that it compromise its security and its democracy’’ – is intended to serve only one objective: to normalise in the minds of Australians the idea that China is an existential threat to our country and our way of life and that military responses will be necessary because, unless China dismantles its entire system, there is no other way to deal with it. There is no room in Uhlmann’s simplistic analysis for shading, debate or discussion – Beijing is a one dimensional villain and that’s it. Australia is the blameless hero. As I said in the Australian Financial Review article, Australia is being led by the government and the likes of Uhlmann into a strategic dead-end. And all in the cause of not having a foreign policy which is capable of dealing with China and the United States simultaneously." [Go Pauly, on the ball as always. We are all in, USA, UK, Australia? Not France and the former $90 billion submarine deal, which was always shonky anyway? A nuclear powered submarine fleet, before 2050; again shonky, tragically funny? What of health, education, aged care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme? Last I heard China has its share in this nuclear power field. I recall similar grumblings way way back, via the USA (backed by military might) and defence spending with the possibility (justification?) of a Soviet strike nightmare, not forgetting Iraq's hidden stash of weapons of mass destruction and again the inference "Time we attacked them before they attack us". The Chinese surely to see us as being used by the yanks, again. The question of why? The Yanks because of the China squeeze, the Poms for trade and Scotty for an election featuring the fantasy of armaments security, quaintly labelled a Defence (khaki?) Policy? One wonders if our Australian Hawks (as our Pauly calls them) have hidden tattoos on their backsides; eagles? Sadly, despite this submarine fantasy, historically, we are easily led, again.] Kevin Rudd, edited: "Over the past eight years, this vital defence replacement project has ground to a halt as the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government flip-flopped between Japanese, French and now unspecified Anglo-American suppliers. The result: not a single keel laid, perhaps $4 billion wasted, and the deep alienation of our Japanese and French strategic partners. It has been an essay in financial waste, national security incompetence and egregious foreign policy mismanagement. Well done, Scott Morrison!" [Finally, our 'Albo' approves, up to a point, wanting to know the full cost???]


The Shovel: "A former Attorney General who remembers the specific type of food that was provided at a debating function 33 years ago, can’t for the life of him think who might have deposited up to $1 million in a trust fund he set up." The PM responded - seeking advice on whether ministerial standards have been met. Do not hold your breath. Our Treasurer pipes in favouring the A-G? Time our AG stopped relying on his office for protection and told the truth, in common parlance, pulled his finger out? Blind trust is not the answer. Kristen Lock,  a public health researcher, once a Liberal who worked briefly for the former NSW senator Bill Heffernan, now says she doesn’t recognise the Liberal party and doesn’t know what it stands for. She describes Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a ‘‘slippery chameleon’’. I'd include our Treasurer and A-G. [Jon Faine: "The arrogance is breathtaking, betraying a smart-aleck lawyer mindset."] [Our PM, as expected, straight to the 'too  hard' basket. Stop press: Resigned, to back bench, remaining in the basket?]


Don't chuck everything out? My late wife put up with almost eight years of the dreaded breast cancer and sometime, during her last year, had the big clean-out including many of her letters to and from me. Sad, but no blame. Years ago a boyhood mate (Graham Campbell, later to become a champion rover for Fitzroy in the VFL) worked as a compositor at the Government Printing Office. He kindly gave me a huge used Jobbing book the size of about 40 exercise books, hard cover, for which I would save the odd printed material, news items, letters, moon landing, and particularly theatre reviews, the better ones obviously, a quick read at the time, then (almost) forgotten. I gave the jobbing book to my daughter a decade ago, she (her?) being into genealogy. Lately daughter has been sending me copies, bringing back near forgotten memories of those times. Fascinating. Recommended for those into their eighties feeling sorry for themselves. Don't chuck, explore, a lockdown plus? "Once upon a time in Australia?" Being "in the moment" sort of thing, which reminds me of something I'm hoping for with those 20 plus Western Bulldogs players when they take the field in the 2021 grand final. Actors, footballers, taxi drivers - "In the moment!"....      


By all means object to your freedom, that's your right, but not by risking my health? Suggest they get a new life, move to Birdsville, population 140?...We thank the gods, Sammy J on holidays...If, as they tell me, the nuclear subs can remain under water indefinitely, what's for dinner every night?...Performance enhancing, where 5 parts per billion can return a positive test?...I'm a big fan of those who give you money (Blind Trusts) with no agreements as to how you spend it..."End pension poverty" headlines an article in September's The Senior and the push for a guaranteed basic income. Couldn't agree more... Plibersek before Keneally?...Why, after a season of umpiring and reasonably logical free kicks, they switch to 'letting the game flow' allowing in the back, dropping the ball, simply pushing players during and before the ball is bounced. For the good of the game? Free kicks at a premium? A coliseum spectacle, a lottery?...I have a successful system in place now, albeit dependant on a strong armed visitor: when buying a replacement jar of jam or the like I leave it on the kitchen bench at the mercy of the next visitor....The days of buying a ticket to watch the grand final at the MCG are long gone anyway, unless you're well heeled. Best wishes to the rich getting richer. Other than the match itself, the  rest of the telecast, including what is known as our national anthem, despite almost all of those zombies not knowing the words, is rubbish....Lockdown advantage living next to a block of five 2 bedroom units, lights on, dead quiet? ...Many have no experience of a Melbourne premiership victory. Let me tell you it's one of life's most painful. Twelve months of strutting to a higher level than ever before. Go the Bulldogs, with, sadly, not a lot of confidence, I say to the red white and blues - "stick it right up 'em"...Common sense is far from common...True, Danny has no right to impinge on our freedom, but surely our state has a right to ensure that they do not harm others?..."For they can conquer who believe they can." [Virgil]..."Vive la France!"...Sports rorts, car park rorts, vaccination debacle, quarantine debacle, the Christian Porter saga, lack of respect for women, refugee policy, national anticorruption commission?...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt.😎πŸ˜₯πŸ’‹

Tuesday 14th September, 2021. Currently Health Minister Greg Hunt is one smelly politician and the democratic vaccine rollout is in fact heavily political in favour of New South Wales, per population, at the same time rubbishing Victoria and other Labor states (cave dwellers?) none of which (from Hunt or Morrison) can be categorised as 'surprising'. Add in being saddled with Albanese as Opposition leader and behold - a Quagmire! Dreams of the past, responsible (though biassed) mature politicians, watching World of Sport Sundays with Ron Casey, Lou Richards, a few glasses of the amber liquid, non biassed football commentators and happy Sunday mornings, until the Sunday roast, beautifully prepared by the little lady, followed by the dishes (supervising?) before the afternoon nap. Of course it will all equal out in the next 3 months and by then we will be so desperate to escape lockdown we will gladly set aside all these selfish crooked dealings; forgotten, sadly. Further, darling Gladys, who may well have started our latest lockdown, has decided not to attend any press briefings. Is this on health advice or survival? Fools rush in where angels fear to tread - and if this mob gets in come the election, we all pay? The Greens? Nah. And so on, and so on, and so it goes...We refer to the experts...


Waleed Aly: "We are in a time of emergency politics, in which governments claim the right to do things that would be intolerable at any other time. Indeed, they are only tolerable now on the understanding that government – and its organs such as the police – will not abuse this power by using it for anything beyond the emergency itself. There is nothing normal about QR check-ins." [The connection with contact tracing and ASIO/police spying cannot be ignored?] 


John Hewson The Saturday Paper, edited: Morrison’s tin-ear response at this week’s women’s safety summit came against the background of his having failed to address accusations of rape, bullying and sexual harassment within the parliament, having closed the Family Court, having in the past been instrumental in cutting emergency financial support to women who suffer domestic violence and, most recently, having failed to fully respond to the Respectβ€Š@β€ŠWork inquiry. In each case he was again seen as lacking genuine concern and empathy. In his keynote to the summit he showed an inadequate grasp of detail and understanding. The lack of recognition for Indigenous Australians and their disadvantage takes a similar form. Instead of acting, the Morrison government has further disadvantaged First Peoples in its response to Covid-19 and by the inequity of the vaccine rollout. Similarly, the government has ignored the major recommendations of the aged-care royal commission – it is unmoved in relation to the wages of nurses and other aged-care workers – and is yet to commit to the recommended 10-year reform agenda. Again, the response is no response. The most difficult policy resistance and intransigence, however, is on climate change. The science is irrefutable. It is widely peer-assessed and agreed by more than 90 per cent of climate scientists. There is very strong and widespread community support for action as revealed in almost every recent poll or survey, by statements made by major industry and civil society groups and many of our key institutions. [Again, read it and weep?]


Peter Hartcher The Age, edited: what’s the reality of Beijing’s plan for Australia? What’s Beijing’s objective? ‘‘China’s objective would clearly be to have us in a subservient position and to sign up to their objectives. They are seeking to disrupt the relationship we have with the five eyes [the intelligence sharing partnership between the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand] and the US in particular.’’ This is consistent with Kevin Rudd’s view that ‘‘China’s policy towards Australia since 2017 has been hostile’’, as he put it to me last year. Dutton says there’s ‘‘a 24/7 effort under way by Beijing to achieve their objectives – in Taiwan, in the South China Sea, and dominance otherwise.’’ If you doubt him, you might have missed President Xi Jinping’s opening remarks on taking leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012. He pledged ‘‘we will win the initiative and have the dominant position’’. Xi is all about dominance, at home and abroad. On his frequent visits to China’s military bases, he typically dresses in military camouflage and rallies the troops: ‘‘Prepare to fight and win wars.’’ [Feeling safe and secure with our 6 Nelson class submarines?]


For a lighter touch, my wedding day: "I can vaguely recall the big day - a Thursday by necessity as in-laws Rose and (mainly Alan) never took a Saturday off from their work at the racetracks. Motels were just beginning to form part of the landscape. I left home in Bonbeach with all my gear and drove my 1959 Morris Major to a flash new motel (now a very ordinary motel) at Fawkner on the Hume Highway. Booked in at 11.30am to what I considered supreme luxury. Prior to that I had only ever stayed at the cheapest pubs (a room with a bed, wardrobe and wash basin) with mates in Sydney. I recall unpacking, putting 2 bottles of beer in my mini fridge, turning the radio on loudish, opening a bottle (might as well, you don’t get married every day) and pouring a glass, sitting back, luxuriating. I always like motels, possibly because of this very first experience. I eventually showered and shaved, finished my 2 bottles, and left in plenty of time to get to St Michael’s Church in High Street, Ashburton. In retrospect was I over .05. Graham Campbell was our best man and Emmy Miller was bridesmaid. Joff Ellen was M.C. and did a wonderful job, a good M.C. being half the battle of a successful reception, none better that Joffa. So it all went a treat, and Mary and I arrived at our motel around midnight. She looked quite stunning, sober, unlike me, as I remember. No air conditioning in those days and a heatwave night at some 35 degrees, and trucks roaring by all night! I’m sure we managed, I think?


Sean Kelly The Age, edited: By October last year, the federal government had been sitting on draft legislation for an anticorruption commission for almost a year. In Parliament, Anthony Albanese asked Scott Morrison why it hadn’t been released. A little snidely, Morrison said that, while Albanese might not have noticed, the government had been dealing with bushfires and a pandemic. When Albanese pressed him, asking how either of those elements had stopped the government releasing legislation it already had, Morrison told Parliament he was ‘‘not going to have one public servant diverted’’ from managing the pandemic. Well, OK. Now here’s an answer Morrison gave three weeks ago. Albanese used his well-worn line about the government failing at its two jobs, vaccines and quarantine. Morrison had his response ready: ‘‘Anyone who thinks a prime minister of this country only has two jobs isn’t up to the job.’’ He went on to say Afghanistan had been the centre of efforts that week. It’s an ingenious tactic, really. Ask Morrison about a subject, he’ll say his focus has been on something more urgent. Ask him about that thing, and he’ll say his focus was on something more urgent still. At some point, trying to discover where Morrison and his government actually spend their time begins to seem like searching for the end of a rainbow. You think you can see it, just, if you look hard enough but by the time you arrive, it always seems to have moved somewhere else. [There's more of course, you decide?]


Despite the lockdown? I'm coming out of South Coast Medical centre, Ozone street, a car across the road exiting from woolworths, to the left another car from Point Nepean Road and to the right another car to enter woolworths, all travelling slowly; behold, a space on the right, one car length, I enter - and he honks, me? Obviously from Melbourne breaking lockdown, he deserved a smack on his nose, and had he been a female I might well have given it. Didn't even stick my finger up. Gutless?


The lady lost her nest egg $220,000 by investing in a managed investment scheme securing long-term leases over rental properties etc. Government decided to cap compensation at $150,000 after, as always, breaking a promise of more than double this amount. "It's just shocking, and the government has done stuff-all to help us. It has destroyed me. I just want the money back and to get on with my life." At 69, now on the age pension. [You decide?]. 


Late News: 400,000 extra jabs for Victoria. OMG...Foreigners at magpie land; McRae, Bolton and Leppitsch. I'll give them 12 months...A four day week is coming? I started this idea in the 1970's...A pension rise of $14.80 every fortnight. All my dreams have come true?.... Paul Fletcher is our Arts Minister. Aside from American films what does he do all day every day?...Kevvy Rudd: Murdoch’s Liberal Protection Racket hard at work today right across the Murdoch Sunday papers. That’s 2.5 million readers. The message: 1) please forget that Berejiklean brought about 30,000 NSW infections by failing to lock down early 2) Saint Gladys will now “give you freedom”...Cliffy's Emporium in Daylesford is now a Tier 1 exposure sight....."It surely is one of the prominent frailties of human nature, that we are incapable of duly appreciating those favours which are offered to us at little cost. The inference is plain: we place fictitious value on what we desire, and on what we possess; and it may be instructive to carry our researches further into the affairs of this present life, and endeavour to ascertain what real importance attaches to any of those objects which we aim to obtain. It may be useful, although disagreeable, to discover that we run after bubbles, which burst in the hand." [Maund]..I'm getting on in years, extending to a weekly, Tuesdays, keep yourselves nice....Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt. πŸ˜ŽπŸ™ƒ

Thursday 9th September, 2021. Wednesdays are often a bit of a quandary on lockdown. True, a shower will make me feel better, but a shave, why? If I have it I'm sure to be needing to repeat the effort by Friday so why not wait until the vague likelihood of the odd visitor? The eyebrows also surely in need of a trim but a DIY would involve the strong possibility of eye loss. Quite warmish outside, no mongrel winds, so a walk is on the cards before tomorrow's predicted strong northerlies. Bugger it. Have the shower, skip the shave, read The Age online, Scotty choofed home for Father's Day, cunning as a taipan, escaping another vulture in our Kooyong's Josh, and then the walk, half a k, no, the Council has taken the seats away, why? Check emails, mostly nonsense, recharge the phone. Then lunch, then a nap and after my nap reconsider my next plan of daytime action. TV, no, doesn't work for me. Read a book? Facebook? It's all happening Bill Lawry. Who doesn't like lockdowns? We watch the cannibals in awe, hoping they get their just deserts, likewise Melbourne losing, if not Friday then Saturday week. Oops, must away, Scotty's making a speech, justifying every action the past 20 months, Even so...


Parents and swimming instructors are worried about the loss of kids’ water safety skills during COVID-19 restrictions, while lifesavers prepare for a surge of beach visitors once lockdowns ease. In my day we were off to the Northcote baths whenever, to get us out of the house, out of the way, tuppence entrance fee, unsupervised, and we, surprisingly (?) survived. A miracle?


Niki Savvy, edited: "Announcing JobKeeper Morrison emphasised its Australianness. ‘‘There is not more support for some than there is for others. That is not the Australian way,’’ he said. ‘‘If one person falls on a hard time, if anyone falls on a hard time, it is the same hard time. We are all in this together. That is what is fair. That is what is Australian.’’ What is inexcusable is the gaping flaw which saw overpayment of a staggering $13 billion to entities with no mechanism to compel repayment. The government succeeded in making some very rich people even richer while still hunting down pensioners for a few lousy dollars in overpayments. Then it used Pauline Hanson to scuttle crossbench Senator Rex Patrick’s bill to force the disclosure of payments to all companies and entities with a turnover of more than $10 million. After he was caught sneaking off to Hawaii during the bushfires, he blamed staff for failing to announce his absence. ‘‘The office won’t do that again,’’ he said. ‘‘You learn from these things.’’ Apparently not. He claimed that same office only told him about the Brittany Higgins rape allegations after they were published. Then at the weekend he snuck off to Sydney, spent the Father’s Day weekend with his family, then returned to Canberra. It may have been within the rules for politicians, but it made a mockery of the ‘‘all in it together’’ homilies. Just for some perspective on how much is involved, it is $1300 for every Australian household, and more than double that proposed by Albanese for everyone who got vaccinated. At least they would have spent it here. Louis Vuitton bagged almost $6 million from JobKeeper then, voila, managed to lift its dividend to its parent company in France by $6.6 million. Recouping that money would go a long way to providing shelter for vulnerable women and children, or the homeless or to ventilate schools or save struggling small businesses. There are literally thousands of ways it could be spent to improve the lives of ordinary people." And... 


Double standards? The Coalition is blocking attempts by Labor, the Greens and Senator Patrick to bring businesses to account and recover millions, if not billions, of taxpayer dollars. On the other hand the government is pursuing 11,000 individuals, many of them welfare recipients, to repay $32 million they accrued by receiving both JobSeeker and JobKeeper during a confusing rollout period last year. When asked about this apparent discrepancy, Mr Frydenberg said this was ‘‘a false analogy because one is in accordance with the law, the other is not’’. This, we think, is the problem. [Not to exclude the many small businesses who exploited the system.]


Comedy of the week? The Liberal party held a strategy day last Friday and one senior member of the team said research presented by the Liberals’ head office showed the party was in a ‘‘solid’’ position to win the next election under Mr Michael O’Brien. ‘‘We have research to back it, advertising to prosecute it,’’ the source said. ‘‘The worst thing we could do is blow ourselves up by putting egos and factions ahead of Victorians when they need us more than ever.’’ [Dreaming?] Almost as funny? "A spokesperson for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner said protecting personal information was central to maintaining public trust and promoting compliance with health orders and contact tracing."


Common sense prevailed? Welcome back to the former zoning king and high rise advocate Matthew Guy, pledging unity, hope and positivity (?) also known (with his mate) Peter Dutton, for firing up the voters on Melbourne's so called African gangs. Some 15 months to turn it around and expunge the spiteful presence of Michael O'Brien, a big ask, made slightly easier with the backing of The Herald-Sun and, to a lesser extent The Melbourne Age and 3AW. From a Liberal Party p/o/v a necessity. 


Some things stay there forever. I've always had a bad memory for names, unlike Shane Bourne and Brian Nankervis who not only remember but can rattle off your billy lids names? Some 5 years ago I adopted 'love' or 'darling' for females and 'mate' for the blokes, thus blocking those past unhappy memories. Some I remember by association, like Chloe, because of my many visits over time to Young & Jackson's hotel. Geoffrey Rush at a Monica Maughan wake and the dirty look he gave me when I answered "Goodaye ahh ahhh". Ditto coming up the stairs from the Studio, Arts Centre and Liz Jones on her way down. The same look, after my "Hi, ahh ahh". Add in Stephen Curry at a play reading, called him by the wrong name, instant dirty look? Result: Incorrect judgements - for life? 


The difference: In central Europe, the arts is suffering far less of the financial shock endured in Australia: in February, the German government doubled its emergency pandemic aid for the arts with an additional 1 billion euros, to help cultural organisations and workers survive the second pandemic lockdown. ‘‘In comparison to Opera Australia, or companies in England and America, where people literally did not work ... we’ve been, I’ve been, in a very privileged position, and also I’ve been creating work over the last 18 months,’’ says Barrie Kosky. [Lucky man.] 


"Are you OK?" An Australian initiative apparently. Best wishes to the Afghanistan womens cricket team...SBS Celebrity Mastermind. I recognised John Wood, but the rest? Deleted...Where is the justice; iron ore, gold mining, our grand final, all in Western Australia?...Better news; Peter Singer – ‘‘Philosopher wins $1 million prize’’...Gladys "We are well ahead of the other states" Vaccinations. A miracle?...‘‘Millions in JobKeeper go to luxury retailers’’ and nothing to the universities; read it and weep... NSW is winning the race to be vaccinated. Commended by our PM. No prize for guessing how they did it...Looking forward to my vaccine passport, entry to my RSL?...Joe Biden : ‘‘We need to find ways to pressure and raise the pressure, frankly, on Beijing to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to challenge its bullying and excessive maritime claims.’’ So much for loyalty. Afghanistan, left in the lurch, has a population roughly the same as Australia. Add in China's territorial acquisition of fishing boundaries in the Philippines and the USA decision to do nothing about it. Can we trust the Yanks to come to our aid?...Three-year-old Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak was found alive after three long days and nights in bushland; beautiful.....Why do they all want Pfyzer and not AstraZeneca?...Free kicks the bulldogs way over Brisbane, 28-19. Game after game. Is it the jumpers?..."Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear" [Job]...Be not the first by whom the New are try'd, Nor yet the last to lay the Old aside. [Pope]...Be nice to waitresses, if you can locate one....Cliff Ellen.






A Grain of Salt.😎πŸ˜₯

Saturday 4th September, 2021. An abnormal situation! It's that famous Tommy Trinder song from the 1930's "All over the place". Frankly, I only gave myself half a chance of seeing out another Winter. Should I feel grateful? And now, vaccination rates will solve all our problems. The 80% double dose vaccination. Really Gladys? Yet another roadblock. Where is that ever elusive sweet spot? So many being totally isolated. We ponder the difference, totally isolated or isolated? Perhaps a call to Lifeline? "All states to open up society" say our business leaders. They  would of course, the more they get the more they want principle. Sticking with the national plan? Essential Poll: Should Schomo be re-elected @ 41 for no, 36 for yes. The last thing to go is - hope? Brisbane former players to run our famous Collingwood Football team, from the team who robbed us (Rocca's goal) in 2002? I wanted Ross Lyon, such is life. And yes, the playgrounds are open, Dictator Dan over bloody flowing with empathy. Far too much of Dan ("my view is") Andrews. Not that I have a choice, with Michael O'Brien? The Age editorial (Thursday) ignores the pathetic Morrison rollout and increases the pressure on our Victorian health system and Dictator Dan, straight out of News Limited propaganda, sad sad sad. They spat on us during those 120 donut days, and lives saved, now they're back, the mongrels, Scotty heavy on the "open up" political line (aided by Paul Guerra, CEO of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and the Premiers for saving lives, take your pic? Me? Simple, blame Sydney? Anything 'blue' in fact, cricketers, politics, Carlton? Another factor are the experts, often solving nothing and often servants of whoever is paying the money. Add in secrecy, always a factor, seemingly for our own good, but all about power. I've always hated waiting rooms. I can take 30 minutes, even an hour if it's important, but that's it. I walk, done it, probably 20 times. And like a nightmare, I'm slap bang in the middle of a daily waiting room, not quite knowing what I'm waiting for, the Godot nightmare? Onwards and upwards my backside. The other problem, secondary perhaps, is who to really blame? I fancy Josh Frydenburg but not quite, though slippery, Dutton still at number 1 after our ragtag PM. Have you noticed they all wear the colour of death - grey suits? Even more concerning is my lack of anger, acceptance so to speak? They tell me "All that makes Melbourne great on hold again." I pondered on this one too, what was it that previously made Melbourne great? Even so...moving on...  


The Saturday Paper: "Data from the Parliamentary Budget Office shows about 20,000 companies claimed JobKeeper while at the same time tripling their turnover. Another 15,000 claimed the payment while their revenues doubled. The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, says businesses can’t be expected to return the money. When it was given to them, he says, the whole country was staring into the abyss. “If they were going to pay back that money, then they wouldn’t have necessarily taken it in the first place,” he says. “If businesses had had to show an actual turnover decline, then we wouldn’t have gotten the money out the door.”The money that was paid didn’t all go to workers. Some of it went to executive bonuses. Some of it was paid out in dividends to shareholders. It could be argued that the two defining policy initiatives of the Morrison government are now tax cuts for the rich and handouts for companies. “The idea that we should be giving taxpayer cash to firms that are doubling or tripling their revenues is reprehensible,” says Andrew Leigh, an economist and Labor MP. “This is the sort of flagrant misspending of money that you’d expect to see in some tinpot dictatorship, not in a well-run economy like Australia’s.” In a speech this week, Leigh complained that welfare recipients were being hounded on overpayment while billionaires were free to keep millions of dollars in excess subsidies. He called it a welfare scheme for lottery winners."


The Chaser, edited: " Unfortunately, it looks like "daily hospitalisations and deaths" is not going to be a very rosy metric in the coming weeks, so we need to shift the goalposts yet again (I know, I know -- we probably should have thought about it a week ago. Thing is, none of us here at PMO can think of a good metric that would reflect well on the Liberal Party. So instead, we're going to have to start blaming the dead for dying. Now I know it seems a bit harsh, but in fairness, they're not exactly in a position to fight back, so it really is a victimless win for everyone. We're not on the hook for the growing deaths, and the dead don't care anyway because they're dead. Point is, from now on, whenever you talk about someone dying, please denote that they weren't vaccinated. DO NOT mention that it's probably because they couldn't get any. Imply that they were one of those anti-vaxxer types. I mean, just mentioning it implies it anyway so it should be pretty easy. Also, Covid deaths should no longer be referred to as "tragic" or "sad". Instead, please blame them for getting sick in the first place, and imply that they broke a health order or two by mentioning that the source of their infection is still "under investigation" (which is highly likely since our contract tracing system has all but collapsed). Also, just a heads up, we will be removing most of the financial support for the vast swathes of people most financially distressed by this pandemic in the coming months. At that point, it's almost certain that people will start having to break the public health orders to pay the rent, feed their family etc etc. If you can really go to town on these people for their individual choices, and ignore the systemic problems that we've created for them, that would be awesome."


John Cleese? Edited: "The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Afghanistan and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada. The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years. The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose." Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels. The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy. Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is cancelled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level."


Clinical epidemiologist: "I have spent 20 years modelling various healthcare issues. The output of healthcare models are not facts. They are educated guesses. The better the information going in, the more accurate the guess that comes out, but they are always guesses. Whenever I hear a politician saying a product of a model is a fact, I know that a political point is being made. Nothing more, nothing less."...Understatement of the year: "Australia’s press watchdog has ruled News Corp’s The Australian newspaper was unfair and caused substantial distress when it published almost 50 articles over a 10-month period about gender affirming healthcare and transgender children and teenagers."...Watched the Geelong GWS match on the fabulous (and other wonderful comments) Optus oval in Perth; no way, the MCG by a mile...What follows booster shots?...The ABC's 7.30. A 4 night special on violence to women or workplace sexual harassment; a 4 night break after the first 4 minutes each night, from watching the remainder of this brainwashing...Perth to host our grand final, a massive culture, economic loss for we Victorians, albeit the rich Victorians. "Back at the MCG bigger and better in 2022" says AFL chief, following up with suggesting Toby Greene (manifestly inadequate, intentional, disrespectful?) should have copped 6 weeks rather than the 3, thus losing me for a lifetime, not that he ever had me anyway. Doesn't Gillon trust the umpire's evidence? Not the point. Gillon, a graduate from the school of political correctness, and who doesn't believe a good looking male on $1.7 million a year?..."He that sips of many arts, drinks of none" [Fuller]...Keep yourselves nice....Cliff Ellen.



A Grain of Salt.😎πŸ˜₯

Monday 30th August, 2021. Spring has sprung, almost, not before time, and Fathers Day come Sunday, good good. Andrews at 50% O'Brien 24%. Yabba-Dabba-Doo. True, not a lot to scream about, but living with hope a necessity, in my cave, with the certainty of uncertainty. What, end of September lockdown? I'm getting desperate. My three billy lids, all grown up now and seemingly respectable, all watch 'Survivor' on (apparently) Channel 10. No? Surely not? Not THAT desperate; not yet anyway. To each his/her own? Again, I leave it to the experts, in line (mostly) with the mysterious epidemiologists and the various chief health officers in each state. The precarious balance of getting back to work, our economy, and saving lives. Some 3,500 deaths a year from prostate cancer, perhaps 2000 a year influenza, and high numbers other causes. The percentages, the balance? Hey, what would I know? One thing I do know is that my marbles are on the down, diminishing by day. Yes, 7 times 8 still arrives at 56 but only just. Fortunately I've kept notes. And please, don't say "It is what it is." There's bugger all news anyway so here are my preferences...


Katharine Murphy, The Guardian, edited: “Safe” is a courageous word for a prime minister to lob in a pandemic, because pandemics aren’t safe events. It’s certainly true that Australia has endured less tragedy than places like the United States. But we aren’t safe from this virus, and most people know that. At the risk of stating the obvious, pandemics bring anxiety, illness and sometimes death. People either get sick, or they worry about getting sick. Australian governments have imposed lockdowns to keep people safe, but that physical safety carries a cost. Mental wellbeing suffers. What Morrison wants to do over the coming weeks is nudge Australians past his previous shibboleth of saving “lives and livelihoods”, the bulletproof political mantra that allowed the prime minister to take actions during the crisis that centre-right governments wouldn’t normally countenance. His new mantra will be “living with Covid”. Morrison shouldn’t compound bad judgments by peddling false comforts, “living with Covid” is a different experience for Australia. Morrison’s “safe plan” involves gradually turning off the commonwealth money machine. As vaccination rates rise, it also involves decoupling from a public health strategy that has been labelled suppression but is more like elimination. Given where we’ve been for the last year and a half, floating, isolated from the world in a bubble of government-built expectations that Australia’s primary objective is saving lives and livelihoods, what’s coming is less “safe plan” than huge (and politically risky) dismount. People are anxious, and angry. They’ve endured the commonwealth’s terrible vaccination bungle....[ I repeat, head down, bum up.]


Niki Savva The Age, edited: "If everything had gone according to Plan A, Scott Morrison would have called an election within days, then sailed through the campaign as the Prime Minister who had led the country through a once-in-a-century pandemic with minimal loss of life and only temporary disruption to the economy. Instead, there is a fractured federation, premiers grown accustomed to wielding immense power even at the expense of the national good, a prime minister powerless to stop them, a devaluing in almost every way of what it means to be an Australian, 15 million people locked down, the prospect of a second recession in two years, enough debt to cripple generations and a vaccination rollout Morrison nominated as his priority in February which could even now qualify as the greatest policy failure since Federation. Given its impact on the health and economic wellbeing of almost every Australian over many months, regardless of race, religion, sex, age or class, the botched vaccination program, mishandled at almost every point, is right up there."


The Saturday Paper, editorial. Edited: Morrison’s response to the fall of Afghanistan exemplifies this smallness. He has no interest in the situation because it is larger than him. There are no votes in it. The television news doesn’t care. Even the readers of this newspaper are less interested than they are in the vaccine rollout. The traffic numbers prove it. Morrison’s lack of imagination has left behind thousands of people. Their fate is reasonably certain. The Taliban is not new and their actions are unlikely to surprise. As one Hazara refugee recounts in the paper this week: “Once the international forces are out of Kabul airport, the dark time will again come to Afghanistan. People know that. The Taliban is not new to Afghan people. We keep forgetting that: they are not a new regime. They were there before. They have already killed thousands of people in front of their families. It is just a matter of time. Straight away they will kill people. They will not ask questions. There is no mercy. The fear people have is that once the international forces leave Kabul airport, the Taliban will start slaughtering. People sense it. They know.” From Letters: The extreme cruelty of the federal Coalition has long been apparent, in its scandalous refugee policies, in robo-debt, in its suppression of wages, its tax cuts for the well-off, its fossil fuels advocacy and climate denial, its funding of privilege, its corrupt allocation of public money, its denigration of women and denial of their rights, and its refusal to adequately address First Nations concerns. Is it too much to hope that its latest egregious act of cruelty – to abandon Afghans, despite impending Hazara genocide and crimes against women, denigrating those in dire peril as al-Qaeda supporters – will finally enlighten those still enamoured of a government bereft of not just policy but any last shred of morality (Karen Middleton, “They took him from his home, and killed him...”, August 21-27)?


Saul Eslake, a former chief economist at ANZ, notes estimates that the shutdown of Sydney is costing about $1 billion a week and the lockdown of Victoria about the same. Add in reductions in economic activity in regional NSW and the other states and territories and the total is probably in the order of $3 billion a week. In normal times, Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is about $40 billion a week. That’s a huge hit.


The Chaser, edited: "As Prime Minister of Sydney, and also, I suppose, the rest of Australia, I'm always keen for my country to thrive. That's why we've got to get away from this prehistoric notion that just because some places in Australia don't have Covid they should try and stay that way. If people in Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland stick to this outdated idea, it will impinge on the freedom of Sydneysiders to go to those states and cough on the people who live there. What sort of a future is that? Instead I call upon all the state Premiers to swing their doors wide open and adopt the lifestyle of a Sydneysider. Sydney is a carefree environment to live in at the moment. Nobody worries about what they're wearing or what their hair looks like. In 17 days, some residents will even be able to go on picnics! Imagine that! What a lifestyle! Are you jealous yet? A lot of people in the other states are resisting going down the path of becoming more Sydney-like. But it's futile to resist. You need to accept the inevitable. The Sydney lifestyle is coming to you sooner or later. Especially with someone like me in charge of the country. I've always said we need to follow the evidence, and to me, the evidence is quite clear. All the data show that throughout the pandemic my government has been terrible at overseeing the quarantine system. Now you might think "Hang on, why don't you just get better at quarantine? Why don't you build quarantine facilities outside crowded cities to reduce the risk of a leak?" Sure, that's what a caveman or cavewoman might say. But if you followed the evidence, you'd see that my ability to learn from my mistakes is almost non-existent."


Toby Greene again, and the dogs (self righteous football so-called experts) are barking, nonsense. Bye bye Toby....Comedies of the week 1/: Fox News accuses the ABC (Four Corners) of bias? 2/ Prime Minister ‘‘We work together as a team of premiers, chief ministers and myself, to make sure we respond to each other’s needs’’....Empathy (or memory loss?) with Afghans stranded in Kabul. And so we say farewell to our helpers trapped in Afghanistan, in line with our fantastic empathetic government, in line with Tampa, Manus, Nauru, dating back to the disaster of the Iraq war and our hero Johnny Howard, and the treatment of Julian Assange...The Bold and the beautiful is a form of mental cruelty, worse than Survivor?...Charlie Watts was good stuff, Gene Krupa even better...If the Chinese were building at Mickleham it would be all finished and a rail line added by now...Taylor Walker said he was sorry; move on please...The ALP needs our help to save the ABC. Better to change the leader? From the day Albanese took over the Labor leadership I wondered, and still wondering, if he did this for himself or for the good of the ALP?... "The wise man expects future things, but does not depend on them, and in the meantime enjoys the present, remembering the past with delight; but the life of the fool is wholly carried on to the future." [Epicurus]...Keep on keeping on?...Cliff Ellen.



THEATRE NOTES: 1989 brought me to the Melbourne Theatre Company, my first (and second last) experience in such exulted (?) company. The play was Top End, by John Romeril, directed by Paul Hampton with Maggie Millar, Vince Colosimo, Pam Drysdale, Bunney Brooke, Hao Zhau and Peter Cummins. And what a fascination this experience turned out to be. The rehearsal spaces, offices, and cosy canteen are situated in Ferrars Street, South Melbourne. An accumulation of people either exercising power, treading carefully to be accepted to be a part of an invisible clique, or a group of really enthusiastic types there for the good of theatre. Apart from this small latter group one could feel an underbelly of petulance, snobbery, spitefulness, arrogance and autocracy but with a higher degree of sophistication than in other lines of employment. Of course it was all “health and happiness” on the surface. Everybody loves everybody. Loyalty can sometimes mean lying and twisting in the interests of your cronies, while ruthlessly worsting anyone likely to challenge you in the scheme of things. John Romeril attended almost every rehearsal, creating a “two directors” situation, strange indeed, constantly muddying the waters for Paul Hampton. I received some four pages of typed “notes” from John two days before opening night. Apparently I got off lightly. Paul was replaced as the director at the same time after representations to Roger Hodgman (the Artistic Director) from Peter Cummins and Maggie Millar, who were dissatisfied with his direction. Poor Paul had been suffering from a severe case of the ‘flu for the final two rehearsal weeks. I couldn’t help pondering as to why two such senior actors had to carry out what I considered such a cruel act. Still, I was new here. To my mind the real problem was Romeril’s intrusions and the bad casting error of Pam Drysdale, a nice young lady who appeared to be out of her depth. [Pam had come from Albury and accepted the part without living away allowance, a big break for her. Maggie Millar convinced her she was entitled. Pam asked me and I recommended she forget it. Pam chose the Maggie option and (as expected) was never heard from again. Sad. A lovely young lady]. Not to worry, press on was my approach. Why create additional problems? The production had moderate success. Cummins and Millar exercised a superiority clique not necessarily commensurate with their ability; Vince was a delight, Bunny was a pain in the arse but the audiences loved her for past achievements; young Hao sang beautifully and Pam did her best, but sadly, not quite up to the part as I saw it. A feature of the intervals was my winning money from Vince and Hao at cards, while Peter Cummins made the odd nasty cracks in my direction, hidden reasons (?) which was water off a ducks back for me. Too long at the MTC I concluded? The MTC was “little hollywood” for mine (success at the box office and they love you, do badly and you’re in Iceland) albeit a bit like comparing the Empire State Building to a one bedroom flatette in Maribyrnong, no offence to Maribyrnong. A mix of class, pretenders and wankers, but thankfully, mainly class. Bottom line: A learning experience.





A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Wednesday. 25th August, 2021. Another day, another lockdown, another Dan Andrews warning, or else! Head down bum up continues. A Hawaiian style luau at Rye back beach apparently, why no invite? Sorrento hot spot, what 5 kilometre rule? A weekend of real sunshine, tempting the protesters for their meaning of freedom, which confuses us, up to a point? I'll settle for a walk to the letterbox and return, 107 steps, phew. I'm buggered now, as in the Australian meaning. Will I live to see a budget surplus? More chance of winning the lottery and/or a Collingwood premiership. Josh Frydenburg has popped up out of the woodwork supporting the "back to a new normal" at 70-80%, a change from attacking his home state. Can't help thinking (with no proof) the NSW's slack performance on lockdowns cost Victoria's latest and Canberra's first lockdown? I'll let the experts take the floor, assuming I agree with them, again, up to a point. We wonder where those thousands of fully armed Afghanistan Taliban soldiers have been hiding the past decade or two? Or is it just me? Ditto, why abandon those who assisted us in our folly? Our PM was on Insiders, the Taliban, the inoculations, including the 80% no lockdowns aim. I'm a left field type of ageing bloke; why didn't David Speers ask him why the entertainment industry was left out to dry in the Jobkeeper episodes? On the other hand a useless question, in the light of a Prime Minister who, in my experience, takes the blame game to heights never before experienced. It began as "I don't hold a hose mate" and continues on ad infinitum, like this lockdown. [PM Scotty's primary vote from 38 to 40 per cent. Labor has fallen from 35 to 32 percent. Not good, not unexpected]. I read where we all lie about twice a day, obviously some psychological study, likely even that's a lie? Mustn't complain. It's not as if I'm Julian Assange.      


The Saturday Paper/editorial, edited. As early as June, if not earlier, Australia was warned that its decision to leave Afghanistan would put at risk thousands of lives. Our government did not entertain special support at this time because that part of its imagination had already been closed down. Scott Morrison wasn’t taken by surprise this week: he was already in the grip of indifference, a kind of indifference necessary to live with the refugee policy he has spent years shaping....Richard Denniss, on Morrison. "How can you start a fight about religious freedom with “the left” when you’re in a fight with your own backbench about lockdown freedoms? How do you start a fight about net zero targets ruining the economy when your own quarantine and vaccine failures have cost far more jobs? And how do you start a scare campaign about Labor’s love of spending when you are rolling out the next phase of stimulus to prop up the economy that your Covid-19 failures caused? While the fight against unions, environmentalists and Labor will continue to unite MPs as diverse as Barnaby Joyce and Josh Frydenberg, it’s not at all clear that raging against those enemies will be enough to conceal Morrison’s failure to do anything other than shovel money on to his friends while carefully avoiding help for his foes. Will that be enough to swing the swinging voters in the key marginals again? Maybe." Paul Bongiorno, again Morrison. "When veterans, their organisations and refugee advocates began demanding Australia do something to get people out of Afghanistan, Albanese joined the chorus. He said, “Scott Morrison is characterised by always responding too little, too late. He waits until there’s an absolute crisis before he acknowledges there’s an issue, and then he blames someone else.” 


Peter Hartcher The Age. "The Morrison government’s approach to climate change is not the exception. It’s the rule. The prime ministerial inertia began with the bushfire emergency. It extended to vaccine rollout, the fixing of hotel quarantine, the demands for justice for women, and most recently the evacuation of Kabul. There is no crisis so big or so urgent that the Morrison government cannot find a rationalisation for avoiding it."


Anson Cameron "You’ve got two decades and money enough, and the family traumas are now shouldered by the generation below. Each day is a blank canvas. Admittedly, not many of them turn into a Picasso, but at dawn each holds that possibility. At last, 10,000 free days. Free days have always been the domain of Dukes and Dionysus. Now they’re yours. If you can get past the guilt that accompanies freedom in a captive world, this could be the happiest time of your life." [Obviously not I, but for 60 year olds, enjoy.]


Following on...way, way back, circa 1970. In reading where the brain doesn't become fully functional until the mid 20's I recall mine some 5 years later, a public servant. Workmate had a casual job Saturdays, as did his wife; both 6 days a week for their 4 bedroom mini mansion in Templestowe, a pool, no garden, the beginning of today's current trend. What was his plan? "To leave it all to his kids" he replied. He, like many others, was running frantically through this forest of life with the aim of stopping to look at the trees in a far off time still to be determined, after reaching 65, if at all. The average age for dying was 67, causing me to marvel, ponder, at the thought of 45 years as a sacrificial lamb in return for maybe just two special twilight years? For the kids? I questioned this fascinating dream, but it was way outside his focus. I discussed with the old man (father) who agreed with the work colleague? This got me thinking, as one does being a public servant surrounded by a few good people, the odd clever boss amidst a majority of dickheads. The thought of another 35 years, one file at a time, layer upon layer, listening to one or two clever dicks and superannuation units, cleverly surrounding themselves with less than clever dickheads, no doubt including yours truly. Wearing a necktie for another 35 years? I left the public service 2 years later; the neckties still in my wardrobe, good as new. I wanted to look at the trees. I concluded money was not the prime objective, the need (or wish) to be a balance between earning enough to pay the bills but equally to find time to work at something I loved and allow myself the extra time to sit on a park bench, view the beautiful legs; the difficulty being to find the work I enjoyed. That thought is still with me today as I ponder in my island of comfortable loneliness...for what? [Herald-Sun 15/4-"After 2 years I decided I didn't want to sit at a desk every day" said apprentice jockey Georgina Cartwright, 22, who gave up a career in accountancy]. "If a labourer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself" [Thoreau]. Who was right, the old man or me? All about choices. 


The Chaser: Edited, "There's a small leak here at the Chaser Springs Nuclear Reactor and Childcare Centre. I know many of you have been begging me to make it compulsory to wear masks in the affected corridors, especially where you can literally see the clouds of gas wafting out from the reactor core. But I didn't want to jump too fast onto that bandwagon. I believe in a little thing called freedom. I know that some of you (especially the shouty ones) think not getting radiation poisoning is a priority, but what about the people who don't care about radiation poisoning? I have to run this facility on behalf of everyone, not just the safety nuts who would have this facility shut down every time people start dropping dead. You've got to balance the pro-living nutters against the pro-freedom people. I've listened to what my safety officer was telling me eight weeks ago, and I am now making masks compulsory in all corridors where you can visibly see wafts of green smoke (unless you are going for a jog through the green smoke, in which case don't worry about it.) Now that face masks are compulsory, the need to fix the leak is basically redundant. Instead, I'm proposing that we learn to live with this deadly radiation leak (or in some cases, die). It'll be much easier than fixing it. Unfortunately, there aren't enough face masks for the children in the Child Care centre part of the building, but I'm sure they'll be fine. As long as 80% of adults wear face masks, then things should be able to get back to pretty much normal."


National Service 1955/4. Senior dickhead? We returned to Melbourne by train the Friday prior to the Melbourne Cup, on leave until the following Wednesday. My kitbag was full to the brim with dirty clothes, as, unlike others, I hadn’t learned to wash clothes. I had my last clean white shirt on, which was dark grey the time we got to Melbourne - the result of soot from the train. We got into the grog every time the train stopped, not so good for the normal passengers. Poor Mum. No washing machine or clothes dryer; all into the copper. Must have taken her 3 days to do it all. There was a number of Army personnel on the same train; tough Army personnel. One of them arranged a carriage to himself with this shapely female, so when they went to their respective toilets I had the bright idea of hiding in the luggage wrack up above. Back they came and were into it straight away. At the appropriate moment, approximately three seconds before (guessing?) orgasm, I screamed, jumped down and scarpered. The Army was on the warpath, and how. They searched every compartment, but they never caught me. Phew. What idiots will do for fame? 


The authoritarian drift (Kerry O'Brien) and soldiers in civilian situations, the Daleks in Doctor Who?...."We are all in this together" says Danny A, almost all?... Scott Pendlebury's offer? No surprise...Who to support in the AFL finals, certainly not Melbourne or Essendon, my hopes with Sydney, GWS, or Port Adelaide; even Brisbane?...One wonders how The Traveller section of Saturday's Age can find anything to print about?...Chris Uhlmann, ambitious right-wing journalist, warns of ‘‘bone-deep damage to the federation’’ because premiers, not the Prime Minister, are running the show on COVID-19 management. Thank goodness for something...Nine News called out the Jewish community at that 'engagement party' not Dan Andrews; true to form, no surprise... Email: "Live or work in St Kilda please get a COVID test" What?...Frogs under threat, Frenchies?..."It's only your friends and your enemies that tell you of your faults" [Haliburton]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.




Rio Would Be Nice. SCENE 3. 

(GLEN ENTERS WITH COFFEE,MAIL) Spare me days. The minute I sat down she started in on me. Accused me of smoking. Said she could smell it on my clothes? Got a shade testy there for a while. I think I might have won a point though. I told her I found half a dozen cigarette butts in the backyard a couple of days ago, and Mrs Next Door doesn’t smoke. Maybe Rex is a secret smoker? Sometimes a little white lie can throw the opposition off the scent.(PLAYS OUT THE SCENE) 

GLEN Maybe the helicopter pilot was smoking treasure?

JANE   “I’ll have Rex telephone the Council Dad. You can’t have helicopters   hovering over your house day and night.”

GLEN No treasure. Then again Rex? 

JANE “Emptying their ash trays” 

GLEN No treasure. 

JANE “You have to stand up for yourself Dad. Rex says if you had a real job you could live in a nice unit in Bentleigh. Mum would love Bentleigh Dad. It’s right next door to the Chadstone. You know how she loves shopping. Gloria could put in a word for you at Myer, working a microphone.” 

A microphone at Myers? I'm an artist. And Bentleigh? Retirement village suburb. Hard to believe she grew up in St.Kilda. 

JANE “St.Kilda is sleaze city dad. Full of creepy weirdos, drug addicts who refuse to shave and accost you for cigarettes, and wear dirty filthy clothes. Rex and I just adore Kew Dad.” 

GLEN Yes treasure. I think I’ll finish my demitasse of coffoire out the back, see if I can spot that helicopter pilot. Leave you to cook up a storm for tea. 

Lentil soup and bean salad? Rex’s favourite. Amazing. Born and bred in St.Kilda, with the sea in her veins, and she moves to Kew. Studley bloody Park. Rex will telephone here tonight. Nothing surer. On his super digital minuscule mobile with pictures, and charge the cost of his call as a business expense. And skite about it. Bloody dickhead. I’m waiting for him to call it a cell phone. The man with the ABN. Oh to have an attitude of divine nonchalance. I mean, life is short right? Be nice. It all evens out. The law of compensation, night and day, black and white, the ying yang and all that... 

I really feel like a beer right now. Can’t though. Gave it away 6 years back. Had a touch of that anxiety state. Sounds better than a nervous breakdown doesn’t it. Anxiety state. Bit like Victoria. If I give away the cigarettes what’s left? A cappuccino without a smoke. A bird without wings. Like doing a show to an empty house. I got the mail. Another daily highlight. Could be a cheque, or anything which verifies my existence. Mail is an event when resting. I might put in a call to Bali tonight. See how the massages are progressing. Half price after midnight. 

It’s good value this marriage business. If you need one another. That’s the key. My wife earns good money, does all the washing, cooks proper meals; chops, sausages. not Jane. Been married 5 years and we’ve been for tea once. Never again. No smoking allowed naturally, and he’s a royalist. Not to mention his famous permaculture vegan garden. And they’re tight. God knows where she got that from. Tiny health food meals. Nouvelle cuisine, which is French for you need a magnifying glass to spot the food. When we arrived home from Kew that night we both had to have a feed. Cheese on toast. Two pieces each.... 

Hah. Just had a thought. About being a star? I got a taste of it two years back on one of those 5 day trips to Surfers Paradise with darling, twin share package deal. White shoes a necessity. They put us up on the 39th floor of the Peninsular Apartments. I adopted this habit of getting into the lift and pressing 45, which was the penthouse apparently. People would look at me and I would maintain that straight ahead look. Staring at the otis sign and the maximum passengers allowable. Nonchalance personified. Like those aeroplane business types with their briefcases and computers, not looking at the air hostess when she starts sprouting those safety precautions. Swuavos. I was a star. Them mostly being holidayites, and so generally talkative, someone would ask “What’s it like up so high?” and I’d say, super cool, “It’s ok I suppose. Great view. The ocean, the mountains, looking down on the world. Trouble is I’m so busy. No time to enjoy it” I’d say, and I would laugh, knowingly. I felt a bit guilty, me and my little games. It's all good practice right? And they listened. A bonus. 

Jane doesn’t listen. She knows better. Well, as I’ve said they all know better. They get on with their lives and hope that I don’t harass them. Me, harass them? I hope darling’s being faithful in Bali. Those little indonesian fellows might make a pass at her during the massage. Hope the weather’s good. She spends all day on the beach if it’s sunny. Get a bad day weatherwise and she spends all day in those shops, buying up on Balinese culture. Fancy going to bloody Bali? I’d rather go to Elwood. Be good to get her home though. Throw out the water bottle. A good roast. Meat. Everybody gets on with their lives and conveniently forgets mine. Over 50 and unemployed. Nobody wants to know...like youth, nothing can be recaptured. Another time, another place...another person. 

Ahh well, say nothing. Remember that little fellow in “Faulty Towers” Manuel? “I know naathing” Yeah, I know. Dreadful imitation. That’s why I’m resting. He knew the score though little Manuel. That’s my aim. Survival. The common thread. Dignity and survival, without self-pity. And when the big one comes along, which it will, I live in a permanent state of hope, all unemployment ceases. I’m back in business. All is forgotten. 

A working ac-tor. I’ll be able to say to some of my former two-faced sycophant actor friends...Are you doing anything at the una mo-ment? Oh chin up. Me? Oh yes, I’m working on the new David Williamson play with Kate Blanchett I just adore David’s writing. And Kate is such a wonderful actrine, always admired her work, really communicates with her ac-tors, one of the true artists of our time. Tres quasi. Tres bullshit. Some of them deserve it though...so the question arises. Why do it? Do I seek fame? Respect? No. That respect business is a bit of a trap, a dog chasing his tail, or Greg Norman...a need to express myself as best I can?...a need to be noticed? (SHRUGS. A LITTLE SMILE) Perhaps... 

(PICKS UP MAIL) Two letters and junk. Two Queensland lottery letters. Addressed to Brett Barlow. That’s my real name, Brett Barlow. Glen Gardiner’s better. Other than bills these are all I get. Apart from the odd brochures from theatre companies telling me what plays are on and what parts I missed out on. It takes up quite a bit of time you know, deciding which prize I’ll take, should I win. Not that I have a lot of use for a mack truck, or a helicopter, or a speedboat. Well you can’t very well take the house can you? Not a lot of opportunities up on the Gold Coast for ageing actors, particularly with lined faces and bald heads. Bit of a haven for mental cripples up there...(COUGHS) Bloody cigarettes. I only smoke when I’m under pressure, which is when I’m resting-or working on a play. I’m definitely giving them away... (MOBILE) Suppose I should recharge the battery. Getting late. (EXERCISES) Bastards! 

Bloody agents. Terry’s probably at lunch by now with a successful client. Never been to lunch with Terry. Still, not a lot to talk about. Actually I wouldn’t mind going to lunch today. Bit of company to yap to. Get out of my rut. Still, not a lot to talk about. God! A man’s repeating himself. Getting rattier by the minute...I could go to Acland Street, have a real cappo, give Gloria a miss. And two last cigarettes before I definitely give them away for life, or at least until I get another play. Could well bump into some of my unemployed mates. I’m dressed appropriately. I should do something. Make the day “work for me”. Then again I might run into some working actors, stalking Acland Street in the hope of a touch of skiting. Duck if I see them coming. If caught I could always use the old standbyes... “Couple of jobs in the pipeline. Waiting on finance. Waiting on a couple of callbacks from auditions, on the shortlist for a big commercial.” or better still, “working on a corporate video.” Nobody ever sees them, and those that do fall asleep. Tell Jane I’m off to see Terry about a play. She gets nervous if I walk Acland Street alone. Looking forward to her lentil soup. I’d better have a feed before tea anyway. Lentil bloody soup! Maybe a pie and sauce, and a hamburger. Leave the mobile at home. A wee bit pretentious? Nah. You never know. Progress or decay they say, right? Progress or decay. 

(STARTS TO EXIT-MOBILE RINGS) Shit! Hello? Glen Gardiner speaking. Hello, Glen Gardiner here. Shit. What do I press? Send? (PRESSES SEND) Hell-ooo. Glen Gardiner speaking...Terry. Hi. Hah, my first call on the mobile. Better be quick Terry, it’s not cheap this time of day. Don’t want to waste your money...No, I’m still at home. Thought I’d head down to Acland Street instead...yeah. Save on petrol. More action down there...yeah...yeah... you’re kidding?...five week rehearsal, and a four week season? You’re kidding?...and a possible country tour? No...no, no, no, no, no. Say yes Terry. Don’t argue about the money. Stuff the money. Just say yes... No, I don’t want to read the bloody script. Stuff the script. Just say yes. Hang on, hang on, do I have to cry? No? Then I don’t want to read the script, just say yes. Wait wait, who’s directing?... oh, she-is-wonderful. I love her work. She’s a genius. Thank-you Tezza-mate. Fan-tastic. You are the best. Have a wonderful lunch Tezza. Bye old mate. (PRESSES END) 

Shit a brick. Good old Terry. Lovely fella. Shit a bloody brick. Must phone Cynthia, and Gloria and Marilyn. Bring some cakes home for Janey, buy a packet of cigarettes. Bugger it I’ll buy a bloody carton. Phone Bali before midnight. Hang the bloody expense. Up the bloody magpies. You bloody ripper!!! 



I'm back! Oh, fuck. Hard to believe. I can’t help myself. Breathe carefully, from the diaphragm. Up the fucking workers. EXITING - BACK TO AUDIENCE. RIGHT HAND RAISED IN VICTORY. 

Blackout / Curtain.[Music up. Running time...one hour] 

Cliff Ellen, 4/6 Nelson Street, Rye. Vic. 3941. Tel: 0412-244-966.

Email: cliffie9@bigpond.com  Directed, including additional ideas, by Nicholas Bufalo.





A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜ŽπŸ’‹

Thursday. 19th August, 2021. The current philosophy "One day at a time" continues, unabated, the heerby jeebies rising with the steady increase of nearby NSW's increasing Covid numbers, the COVID-19 donut day now close to a dream. I suppose the good news is we don't live in Afghanistan? Always a pleasure listening to Foreign Minister Michelle Payne. All questions answered efficiently, intelligently, telling us zilch. COVID-19 and Lockdowns unlimited, conveniently hiding, in particular, corruption, and setting aside the importance of climate change. I could add in racism and reconciliation, but unless you came down in the last shower you would know these are merely words equating to bugger all. Our PM, dear Scotty Morrison’s announcement of a “Secret mission” by ADF in Afghanistan (will we ever know the real truth? not bloody likely), ignoring those who escaped 7 years ago for prison life on Manus and Nauru? A convenient crisis for Scotty, aided and abetted by fear tactics from Murdoch's volunteer slaves? The blame game as usual, the Taliban, the Afghan army deserters, no mention of our not realising the problem 3 months ago. On the bright (brighter?) side it's not Chile, or Kabul, or Sydney. So many mum's worrying about the health and wellbeing of their nippers, unable to go outside and play, an  exaggeration? The real local worry Sydney aside, the dickheads living among us, threatening our lockdown exit. [Languishing is ok, for a day (or so) and the lockdown connection, assuming it doesn’t mask your anxiety. Label my emotions they say, for a sense of control? Libby Gore and her psychologist Jane, ABC radio, Saturdays,  breaking the shackles. the scheme of things to the forefront. OMG, dribble.] 


Peter Hartcher, The Age, edited "At the 2007 election John Howard’s Coalition and Kevin Rudd’s Labor agreed that Australia needed to cut greenhouse emissions urgently. They agreed that an emissions trading scheme was the most efficient way to do it. It was Joyce, a mere Nationals backbencher, who started the populist revolt against this national consensus. His barnstorming style of agitation opened Tony Abbott’s eyes to the possibilities. Remember Abbott openly admiring Joyce as ‘‘the best retail politician in Australia’’? Abbott, another mere backbencher at the time, followed Joyce’s example. He picked up the rhetoric of rejectionism and carried Barnaby’s revolt into the Liberal Party. In 2009 Abbott used climate denialism to destroy Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership. The Coalition’s support for an emissions trading scheme died with it. Abbott continued his campaign and used it to bring down the Rudd and Gillard governments. He used it to smash his way through to the prime ministership. In the interim, Joyce rose and fell. And this year rose again. He returned to be Deputy Prime Minister to Scott Morrison, a politician trying to move the Coalition back towards some sort of climate realism with the delicacy of a bomb disposal expert deactivating a dangerous explosive." [A rare instance of being in agreement with Hartcher.]


National Service 1955/3. AKA my time as a dickhead? Still on HMAS Voyager. Every 4th night you copped a 4 hour spell on night watch, quietly sipping coffee (or the like?) and watching for enemy ships? Chatting to a mate and overheard by a Chief Petty Officer saying - “ I don’t mind night watch” (You then got 4 hours off the following day as compensation) “At least it gets me out of real work” This involved scraping the paint off the ship, though it didn’t seem to need it, so we could paint it again? The CPO got nasty, threatened to “get me” when we got back to Flinders Naval Depot. Result was 4 hours extra, extra duty, a 12 hour day for the following 2 days. Back to Sydney ex Jervis Bay and every second night off (4PM-7AM) to paint the town. Some went sightseeing with their cameras, most went looking for love, or sex, ALL successfully if you were silly enough to believe them, and me, with a couple of mates, to the Metropole Hotel for some serious drinking. We would book in at “Johnnies” the naval establishment in the heart of the city. Off to The Metropole, then  to Kings Cross to eat and observe, then back to Johnnies, more grog. Weekends were noisy affairs at Johnnies. Many a brawl, where the provosts would get you if they felt so inclined. A need to tread very carefully. The provosts were particularly keen to dine on “fucken nashos”. Beddy byes around 2-3AM, woken at 6AM, clean up, breaky, back for full inspection onboard at 8AM. The sea air, the hard work, made me a lot fitter, though heavier than on entry. Indeed, I had a chronic cold for most of my youth (could not, still can’t, breathe through my nose), but did not catch another cold after discharge for three years. [Got back to FND (Flinders) and fronted the CPO, threatened victimisation, he backed off.]


Sami Shah, The Saturday Paper. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, we’ve released almost as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere in 30 years as humans did throughout their entire existence up until 1990...the latest Newspoll, holding on to its 53-47 lead over the Coalition. And Gadfly? A country so great, ruled by politicians so utterly mediocre? For a satirist, that is a siren’s song. The column will continue, both in print and as a podcast, at patreon.com/samishah. 


Nothing changes, barring COVID-19/June 2019: The Liberal party fascination with the so called left wing ideology? The liberals sprout this nonsenses as a reason, paper thin logic hiding their dream of abolishing our ABC, or at the very least transforming it into 'their' ABC. The nightmare of the ABC as a Sky News offset, allowing for the expectation of our Prime Minister's attack on the IR reform (Unions), a further three years of the slow death of our refugees, and our Home Affairs minister's never- ending headbutt with lies presented as truths. Intriguing. I don’t see (hear, this ideology?) on 774, or the ABC’s Q&A, 7.30 or Insiders. I see straight down the line fairness by commentators and a balance of guests between both sides (and sometimes left field others) of the political spectrum. When I read The Australian or the Herald-Sun, or listen to 3AW, or watch Sky News I see and hear a right wing ideology, often far right, often off the planet ratbags rights, so indoctrinated by the constance of their right wing views, anything delivered with a sense of balance is seen, wrongly I respectively submit, as the mirage of this left wing ideology bias. They hear footsteps. Why? God knows, they've got all our money, and more ABC cuts via Morrison, also the dickhead voter content who believe an apple is an orange, unless it's to do with some sort of power play to clear the decks forever, in their favour, albeit against the wishes of we the unwashed? I'm buggered if I know. They rave on about a mandate, knowing almost half of the voting public voted against them, and half of the other half don't have a clue what 'mandate' means, more likely voting against Shorten as a primary reason. I wonder if they read? Kurt Vonnegut? The old philosophy at play; the more you get the more you want? I have never run across them in real life. Well, I have, up to a point, but other than shoving the usual brainwashed points of view (including how cleverly they have risen to a sense of importance in their eyes) they rarely give me a chance to present an alternative. True, I give it a go, but the bottom line seems to rear its ugly head. A brick wall is a brick wall? Such is life? 


From Arnold Zable: "The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban is a tragedy, and a betrayal — for all its citizens, especially for its ethnic minorities,  among them the Hazara. In recent days I have been talking with Hazara friends, who I first came to know as asylum seekers back in 2000 and 2001. I have seen them rebuild their lives with extraordinary energy, hard work, and ingenuity. They are shattered, distraught and afraid for their family members back in Afghanistan. They find it difficult to sleep at night. They also fear for the projects they have been engaged in, helping their country build new schools, universities, improve health care, create businesses, and so much more — brave initiatives that have enabled women to receive a tertiary education  and create a more open, dynamic, technologically savvy society, where minority rights are respected, and the lives of all citizens improved.   These grass roots initiatives have occurred, often despite the corruption of successive governments over the past two decades. There are many unsung heroes in Afghanistan who have fought for a more egalitarian, democratic, multi-ethnic nation. But, while we lament, it is also a time to act. There are things that can be done. There are an estimated 4300 Afghan refugees on temporary protection visas of various kinds in Australia, some of whom languish in detention. There are over 7500 Afghan refugees who remain in agonising limbo in Indonesia. Over the years some have been driven to suicide. Many are in despair, and their despair has intensified in recent days. They are forgotten people. Listen to the pleas of Afghan community leaders here. Now is the time to pressure politicians. Now is the time to end the agony of limbo, and  to allow a greater intake of refugees from Afghanistan, and increase humanitarian visas — to follow the lead we took in resettling Vietnamese refugees back in the 1970s.  And now also is the time to remain alert to events unfolding in Afghanistan. Now is also a time to express a sense of solidarity with Afghan refugees, and citizens who are still struggling for freedom, and to remain acutely alert to the unfolding events."


LETTERS/1: Morrison’s government has other form. In 2019, it raided the ABC and the home of a journalist, prompting The New York Times to run the headline, “Australia May Well Be the World’s Most Secretive Democracy”. More recently, The Australia Institute called the 2020-21 budget the least transparent on record, with 384 secret items. Governing by secrecy is at best a sign of incompetent leadership, and at worst a symptom of corruption. Given robo-debt, the Leppington Triangle, the sports and car park rorts, the treasurer’s $60 billion JobKeeper miscalculation, and the resistance on ICAC, it’s possibly both. 2/ To get into office when faced with the powerful stranglehold of the right-wing media on information and analysis in this country, the party must abandon some fundamental principles of fairness and decency. There are still many areas where the country will benefit from a Labor government: public housing, aged care, Aboriginal issues, environment care and measures to slow global heating. Some sensible measures relating to negative gearing, franking credits and even death duties could be discussed and introduced incrementally over several years once their merits have been fully explained. It’s better to be in government with a moderate agenda rather than remaining a pure and powerless onlooker.


Would you want to be tested if you lived in St Kilda, gossips aren't into truth?...Farewell to a mate, many years past, Ches Baragwanath, a job well done...A message  to my billy lids, from Four Corners ABC. "They're our elders. We should care for them. We should respect them. We should make sure they have a voice, and it just doesn't happen."..."You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting. With most admired disorder." [Shakespeare]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






“RIO WOULD BE NICE” STAGE: Music up..six slides from famous movie posters. Casablanca etc, with Glen substituted for Humphrey Bogart, and five others along the same lines...70 seconds. .....Film -fade to black...to Scene 2. 

============================================================ SCENE 2. 

(GLEN ENTERS) Terry’s secretary, asking if I wanted a new picture in this year’s Showcast. That’s the actor’s directory. $125. Claim it on tax. (REFERS TO HIS 1978 SHOWCAST ENTRY) Why? 

She knew me this time. Called me Glen straight off. I know, I know, it’s not a job. But it IS a phone call. They know I’m here see...I had two phone calls yesterday. One from Jim’s Mowing and the other was from a delightful lady doing a cigarette survey. Telemarketing or something. We got on well. Sexy. Lovely voice... husky... 

I had a part in Evil Angels. One line, but a KEY line. I didn’t tell Harold. I didn’t want to skite. You’ve got to practice being humble, the day may come? I was that bloke in the factory who said... 

“I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her” 

Her being Lindy Chamberlain, poor lady. Remember? I had on a grey dustcoat? In a factory? (WAVES THE AUDIENCE AWAY IN DISGUST) Bloody Fred Schepsi- he patted me on the bum and said “Say it like you mean it boy”. Had to do it again? I got there at 6 in the morning, didn’t say my key line until 5pm. Didn’t know a soul. They thought I was an extra, again. Had to tell them otherwise, again. Embarrassing. I’ll give him pat on the bum. Suspicious? 

(HELICOPTER OVERHEAD) Piss off you bastards. Supposed to be chasing crooks but you spend half your time purving on my backyard. No marijuana here fellas. Go find some terrorists! I haven’t even got a beard. Check Mrs know-it- all next door. Check out the factory roof. Kill Monet! (HELICOPTER GOES) Gestapos! Fancy calling a cat Monet. The lady can’t even paint her house. You know she takes that cat out every week night, around the back streets of St Kilda, collecting bottles. Weird...Harold thought Schepsi was great. Harold seemed to think all famous people were great. I did the right thing by Harold- told him it was nice working with him, in the student film. Couldn’t wait to see the movie I said, which I never did see. The title put me off.  “Is Death The Finish” - a musical. 

Up you for the rent Schepsi. Him and his little blonde chicky assistant and his red mercedes, or was it black? That’s not resentment mind. Definitely not. Very dangerous that resentment business. An actors enemy. Same as self- interest, and probably self-indulgence... 

(SINGS) “It’s only a whimsical notion, to fly down to Rio tonight” Suppose I should do some gardening, tone up the grass. Looks a bit fake. (WHICH IT IS) not in the mood though. Need inspiration. When darling daughter gets home I’ll tell her I’ve done the leaves. Another big tick. I get restless. (TO MOBILE) Ring, ring. (SHAKES HIS FIST) I said ring you bastard. Only joking. Claim it on tax. If I get around to earning. I had a big year three years back. I did two plays and got six days in a movie at $500 a day. Over 17 thousand dollars for the year. My best ever. For a while there I thought I was infallible. I started thinking academy awards. Celebrity status was looming. Move over Geoffrey Rush I said to myself. I almost leased a car in anticipation. Automatic... 

I daydream a bit. Never too old to dream. Remember that young bloke in the movie-”The Commitments.” Young band manager dreaming of success, lying on his bed talking big time to imaginary booking agents on his imaginary telephone. I do that. Sometimes I take a break and dream about buying my own theatre with my lotto winnings. And the television interviewers talking to celebrities about their lives. I often wonder what I’d say. I don’t tell anybody. They’d think I was an idiot. I wonder if anyone else does it? More to the point, who doesn’t dream? That’s life isn’t it? You never quite know what anyone else is thinking. Can’t help it though. Sitting at home day after day, trying to look busy, maintaining your self respect, dignity.  We all worry about what other people think - don't we? They say the more you get the more you want. I’ve yet to be in a position to prove it. When there’s a bit of sun you can potter in the garden, but you need inspiration. Bloody hard. Sometimes I think it’s not fair. Why me? No answer. I was offered a leading guest role once, in Blue Heelers. A leading guest role. Big, bigtime. Meeting John Wood. We all love John. Got that asian flu two days before we started and had to drop out. Could not get out of bed. Knew all the lines. In bed a fortnight. Could have made a big difference. Too young to retire...where was I? 

Oh yes, sometimes, to pass the time, I settle back into a nice, safe, luxurious dream. A daydream. About being a bigtimer. A celebrity. Being interviewed on important matters, like superannuation, privatisation, economic rationalism, the aborigines, the republic. Spending weeks in Hollywood, California, rehearsing and shooting a movie, or in London on stage. Or New York. A successful play on broadway. Big flash condominium overlooking Central Park. Having my darling over for opening night. Standing ovation. A dozen curtain calls. Big party after huge success. Important people, like...Whitney Houston, Kevvy Costner, Paul Newman, Madonna. Flying back to Auzzieland business class. Having the air hostesses actually looking after me, calling me Mr Gardiner. So important I wouldn’t even look up when they give out the safety instructions. Loaded up with script offers. Met at the airport by Margaret Pomerantz. Taken to lunch by Alan Jones. Interviewed by Ray Martin. Searching questions like “Anything funny happen while you were O/S Glen?” Marvellous interviewer Ray. He’s like a brother isn’t he? Bigger than John Wood. It’s possible. Mind you I’d need an overseas agent. A business manager. Have to give Tezza the boot. The bastard. And clothes! Expensive clothes in that factory. But being a celebrity they’d pay me to wear them, right? (AS FACTORY MANAGER) “Hey, saw you on Sixty Minutes. You and Liz Hayes. I think she was keen on you.” It is possible. Me and sexy Liz Hayes? Hah. Where would we be without dreams eh? The foundations of success ...mind you fame isn’t the only thing I dream about. I dream about women. The dreams are always better. 

You know, I think they might have a marijuana roof garden up there. Why else those constant bloody helicopters? It’s possible to win lotto too. If you spend $5 a week, on the law of averages you can win once every 37,000 years, according to my smart-arsed son-in-law Rex. “Is that a fact Rex.” I said. “How interesting. What’s the odds of getting slaughtered on a mountain bike, Rex? Hit by a bull bar.” Silly bastard didn’t dream I was having a shot at him. On a scale of 1 to 10 an actuary’s sense of humour borders around .01. 

Funny really. Actors dream of getting work, while half the workforce dream of winning lotto, leaving work, and buying a new BMW. 20,000 actors looking for 200 jobs, so 19,800 miss out. “What’s my chances Rex?” They say you make your own luck in this business. It’s only the lucky ones who say that. Not the 19,800. They’re too busy waiting in the Centrelink queue to think about it. It’s not really easy, it’s hard! Takes 5, 10, maybe even 20 years, to get to a stage where you feel maybe, you’re good enough, to do some justice to your work. Then pfff. Nobody seems to want you. Not if you don’t know the right people, have you noticed that? You’ve always got to know the right people. In any occupation, not just acting. All of a sudden, out of the blue, for no apparent reason, everything can stop. Grind to a halt. Dead as the proverbial doornail. A conspiracy? Not really. You don’t know the right people you’ve had it. You’re not on the A list, or the B list at worst, forget it. Go home. Watch TV. Dream how you’re going to spend your lotto winnings. And even the right people can change. One minute you know the right people, the next minute the right people aren’t the right people anymore. Some other doozy who has cunningly kept his head down has popped up. An unknown from England with a suspiciously long CV. Bastards. It hurts, the embarrassment, the pain of failure, the constant need to at least get a job to show them, coupled with the doubt you're not good enough anyway. That one decent opportunity. 

So you’re back to square one. “Who’s the bloody right people?” Mind you the ‘right people’ are generally mediocre at best - ambitious, confident, and expert manipulators. Networkers extraordinaire. On the other hand it could be that you’re simply a bad actor, a very bad actor. Worse still a boring actor. Perish the bloody thought! I question myself. Why do it? Why the pain? But I can't stop. Can't give up. I love it. I'm alive when I'm working. On stage that is. Maybe take up networking? Nah. Not my go. Actors disappear though, you know? Just disappear off the face of the earth, although there have been reported sightings at places like Byron Bay, and Katoomba. Manly, St Kilda, even Rosebud. But they were on the D list at best. I wonder what list I’m on?... 

So, how to reverse it when all is so quiet? Living without an audience. No laughter (PAUSE). Like now. Confirming the self doubt. The very fast train to nothingness. You look around and what do you see? Less plays, less Australian telly, hundreds pouring out from colleges. More people less work. Your mathematical chances diminishing. And yet - part of being an actor is that you have to be happy, or “up”, “turned on”, or just plain positive. I used to think that having your own space was bullshit. I was a shade more successful then. But 6 months, nearer 9, with not the smell of a telephone call, makes me see the need for space. I can be normal out here. I can wallow in my loss of confidence, swim in my sense of shame, or I can continue to give myself a series of necessary pep talks. See, some people who live alone, unwanted, would just sit there, watching television probably, poor buggers.
I can’t. Can’t let the ladies think I’m down. People assume that being old and unemployed is not as legitimate as being young and out of work. That’s rubbish! I love feeling good, making the day work for me. Inspiration is energy giving, but it cannot be manufactured right? You cannot fake it. And the more you have done what it is to do, the harder it is to retrieve ...that old feeling. That something will happen. Something good. Living in a state of positive hope. Motivation. We all do. Even people with the dreaded cancer! Being unemployed. The fear of permanency. It creeps up on you. Not easy. Success eh? You know what success is? Being able to cope! That’s success. Just one tiny break. It's not fair. Or is it? Am I playing the blame game? What's the last thing to go? Hope!

I’m not crying! Simply stating the downside. One failure, well, one possible failure, does not make a life. I’m a happily married man with 4 lovely daughters, and granddaughter Skye. What more can a man ask, aside from a slightly more dominant male chromosome - and - I barrack for collingwood. No doubt all pluses so why the frustration? The need. Eating me up, inside. I want to work. I want to be there. I want to perform. Does that make me selfish? Fuck!... Must check that mail. Wont be long now. 

I like working with women. None of this anti-feminist thing for me. Not with a household full of them, I’d get shot at dawn. You know I don’t even get to hold the remote control. Now that is feminism gone rampant. My lot constantly use terms like “politically correct” or as Rex would say “economically viable?” I don’t even know what they mean. Oh and “Good for Victoria” Rex likes that one. They tell me I’m the boss too, but that’s a tactic. They’re very good at tactics. I’m not that silly. Ratty perhaps, but silly never. I have a house in there, and any decision I have ever made has been overruled. True! Where to hang pictures, wall colours, furniture, nick nacks, TV programmes, even flowers in the bloody garden, even the placement of my study. Study? Well, the outside loo is my study. No-one else uses it. Scared of spiders. You name it, I’ve had no say. Very very bossy are women. Same on stage too. No different. Females are bossy. Fact of life. Mind you I don’t get to work with any of those young sirens on Neighbours. Sexy little blondes. Sexy big blondes. If I was offered a part opposite that Sharon Stone I’d have to knock it back. A sex scene with Sharon Stone? It would destroy the family...I get the tough ones. My way of coping is to butter then up. Tell them they’re good, which they generally are, but that’s irrelevant. Insecurity is a permanent fixture in this business, male or female. Talent or not. Anxiety state is forever well and present amongst us. We are all experts in a panic attack situation. Breathe in, hold, count to 10; breathe out, hold, count to 10. Actually, tell them they’re better than good. Stunning in fact. Stunning is a popular word. They love that word. Lots of cuddles and closed mouth kisses, unless you get lucky. You have to, otherwise they’ll have you for breakfast, dinner, and tea. Even when you were a kid. Remember the schoolyard? Who was the toughest? The females! It’s called battle zone survival. Remember old Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard? Standing on those steps looking down... 

“All those wonderful people out there in the dark” she said. 

You are kidding. America maybe, which I very much doubt, but good old Melbourne, even Sydney, tough as nails. Exhibitionism has its price. 

(HELICOPTER OVERHEAD) Have a look on the roof garden, they’ve all got Mercedes. Go hover over Toorak for a couple of years. You work for ASIO? (NOTICES MILK CRATE) Shit! The milk crate. (HIDES IT) It’s probably that Naomi bloody Robson hovering for dole bludgers. She hates Collingwood you know. Never picks them in the tipping, so I watch Channel 9. Little Johnny Howard picks Collingwood. The poor mans friend. God’s gift to the rich, and Telstra shareholders, and people with term deposits. (HELICOPTER GOES) It’s amazing really. I barrack for Collingwood, I’m an actor, and I follow Greg Norman, and Victoria in the cricket. A sure fire recipe for super depression, week after week after week.......Hah. Bloody wrist watch... 

Not to worry. Lovely day, bit of gardening. Trouble is with darling overseas there’s no-one to show it to. There’s no point cleaning up if you can’t bring the lady of the house out and say “What do you think love?” I miss her. I wont tell her though... 

I haven’t mentioned directors! How lax can one get? Well, I did say I loved them, but you took that with a grain of salt. Artistic directors. There’s a contradiction straight off. Stage directors. Lovely people. God’s gift to the power game. All related to Tony Abbott, king of power and unemployment. I mean, really and truly, think about it? Puncing about the floor, trying desperately to look intelligent, always intelligent. Measuring their words after a thoughtful pause...words like, quasi, ethereal, surreal. Doing all the bloody newspaper interviews, very important , while we poor actors patiently wait for them to piss off and leave us to get on with the play. Within their limits that is. Their interpretative limits. They don't even put our names in the newspaper? One day a director will actually sit us all down and get a consensus, go completely mad and ask our opinions. I’ll be dead by then. Plays can live or die you know, and writers too sometimes, on one interpretation. As my old Dad used to say ... “Could not pour piss out of a shoe if the instructions were written on the sole” 

Well, Dad actually said that about anyone who disagreed with him. And female directors? A relatively new phenomenon, but gaining strength by the minute. Exactly the same only bossier. No wonder I don’t know the right people. I’m probably on the Z list. No, I’m only joking. I love directors. Well, I would if they’d hire me. I wonder who Terry is lunching with today? 

JANE: (OFF) I’m home Dad. Are you still out there? 

GLEN: Cleaning up the leaves treasure.
JANE : I’ll make coffoire.
GLEN: Be in shortly. 

What’s this coffoire? It’s coffee! Must have picked that up in Kew. Jane’s my eldest. Married to Rex. Named after Jane Fonda - I fancied her in my youth. Then follows Cynthia, Gloria, and Marilyn. I named Marilyn too, after you know who. No boys, so poor old Marlon missed out. 

“He that hath wife and daughters hath given hostage to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief” BACON. The writer not the food. Not that I necessarily agree mind. 

You will not believe this but Mrs next door, Mrs know-it-all, Mrs working class, has got two ankle biters - Jason and Kylie? Can you believe it? I too grew up working class but we didn’t have any social workers when I was a kid, so I thought I was well off. In America they have a social worker for every living person, or a psychologist, psychiatrist, analyst, anulists? 

You have to hand it to those yanks. I saw Oprah Winfrey on the box. A million bucks a week she gets. I’d buy two faxes with her money. Maybe even think about a pager. Bill Gates gets 350 million. Makes her a piker. I never watch television in daylight mind, just put it on for a bit of noise occasionally, when the house is empty. Anyway she had these 6 female actors on from the soapies. all with beautiful faces, perfect teeth, perfect voices, perfect boobs, dressed for a royal wedding. Legs crossed, luscious legs, and Oprah says, with that funny neck of hers, and those bulging eyes...
“How do you manage to keep the dialogue so fresh, so real, day in day out?” 

Out trots the bullshit, in military fashion. “It’s not so difficult when the dialogue is so real. The writers are wonderful, the actors are wonderful, the directors are wonderful.” Everybody’s wonderful! Beautiful people. Positive people. Talk about the personification of ambition. None of this live for what you’ve got over there. Ahh, the difference between an actor in permanent work and the less fortunate. I suppose it’s the same in all occupations...
I switched to weather watch on SBS. 

JANE: (OFF) Where are you papa?
GLEN: On my way treasure. Put that kettle on. 

Jane talks a lot, particularly at meals. Unending advice on how I should take up bowls, or bike riding, or get a proper job so as not to slowly fade away. You see, that’s another thing about unemployment. You lose your precarious position of power. This is not to say they don’t support me. No. Come opening night they’re all in line for free tickets. But gradually they begin to tell you. They cease to listen. I remember once, about three years back, young Gloria was doing drama classes, and actually asked for my advice. It felt good. A man likes his family at least, to listen. If I had a job they’d listen. If I had money they’d jump to attention, until it was spent. 

(DAUGHTER’S VOICE) “Come on Dad, don’t be a poohbar. You only live once. You’re dead a long time. Bali will be good for Mum Dad.” Daughters can smell a loose quid from a hundred paces. Rembrandt died broke. He must have had daughters. When I get to heaven I’ll receive a special longevity award for loyalty and service to daughters. 

Mustn’t get cynical eh. Hah. Sceptical maybe, but never cynical. Cynicism is corrosive. Cynicism is corrosive. Red letter, yellow letter. Red leather, yellow leather. Pickled peppers!...I’d love some lines to practice. I don’t know who with, they all run a mile when I ask. Except Gloria. She fancies herself as an actress. Ac-tor sorry. Mustn’t say actress. She works a microphone at Myer.....I didn’t mean those nasty things I said about directors. I just get so frustrated wondering why I’m forgotten. Give me a job and they can make all the decisions in the world. The very best feeling is when you’re asked to do something in (say) six months time. Not financially, but psychologically. Luxury and peace of mind... 

“Are you doing anything at the moment?” Oh, I have one or two things in the pipeline, and of course “Earnest” is happening shortly. “No, Earnest? Oscar Wilde. That’s fantastic. Well done.” Yeah well, should be fine, if they manage to get the right cast. Bit of a lark. Time will tell and all that. Beautiful. Working with the same group for 3 or 4 months, one big happy family, bossy women. If it succeeds it’s heaven. If not, back to my office, my space, my ensuite. I used to think I’d be better off as a clerk. No highs. No lows, unless you barrack for Collingwood. Regular pay packet. Nowadays they’re unemployed like us. Replaced by millions of computers, Philippinos, I worked as a clerk for 4 years, after I left school. Before I decided to become famous. Then I spent 5 months in the Navy doing National Service and seeing the world. The intake before us went to Japan and the intake after to New Zealand. We went to Jervis Bay. 600 young boys, 599 of which passed seamanship. Never could tie knots. Must be hard if you’re unemployed as a clerk. No chance of the telephone ringing then. No point having a mobile if you’re a clerk. Can’t even claim it on tax. 

JANE : (OFF) Coffoire’s ready papa. 

GLEN: On my way treasure. 

“For many a flower blooms to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air” 

Got that from the movie - Bull Durham. Good movie. Wouldn’t mind buying one of those computers. Terry could email me the odd script. Save on petrol and claim it on tax. 

(EXITS, CALLING TO JANE) Did you get lotto for me princess? 

6 slides, in the same style as before, with glen substituted for a 

hollywood star...70 seconds....Film- fade to black-to scene 3. 





A Grain of Salt.😎

Friday, 13th August, 2021. The Melbourne add-on lockdown not unexpected week, head down bum up positivity, no choice? Last Tuesday was my one hour fortnightly visit from the beautiful cleaning lady, floors and bathroom, toilet; no appearance due to lockdown. I've had both jabs and darling wears her mask. A minor thing, insignificant but seemingly stupid, of many, in our lockdown maze. We press on, where is my bloody broom? I'll sing to myself, talk to the walls to stay sane? I consider  watching television, no, it's all about COVID-19, statistics and an unlimited supply of Professors in Australia, the USA and the UK, not to mention the ever changing opinions on the rollout by our sincere Prime Minister (with the smiling face, in fact a bully in disguise). A slight change lately in the added danger (more serious?) of climate change, again faint hope with our Morrison government and Barnaby pulling the strings. Interesting to note how Morrison uses his scientists for the COVID excuses but ignores on climate change? We feel for those thousands on the shrinking little islands, not to mention our children's future of heat waves and flooding, never forgetting Julian Assange and the biloela family, the brutality of our Home Affairs gestapos increased powers, the car parks saga, the arrogance of our Prime Minister's response. It's like a broken record. Then the added mystery of John Howard, Peter Costello, Joe Hockey, Scott Morrison and the Pentecostal church, Hillsong? Even a channel on Foxtel, assuming Murdoch's backing? Add in the $500k in jobkeeper given to Margaret Court’s Pentecostal church. A return to monastic reform of the Cistercian Movement back in 1098? I'm assuming money and power obviously, but what else am I missing? Do you ever get the idea someone is spitting in you're face? 


Jon Faine, The Age: Edited: "Scott Morrison and his ministers now argue in favour of lockdowns, but a few weeks back they were vociferously against them. Back then they thought it a useful wedge to try to characterise ALP governments as incompetent and anti-business, to tarnish the Labor brand federally. It turns out playing politics amid a pandemic is not just irresponsible, risky and immature but when exposed it is electorally poison. Combative as ever, Morrison also refuses to clarify his role in the car park rorts of the previous election. The likely reason for this obfuscation is to hide how involved he was in the pork barrelling exposed by the Auditor-General. The refusal to do anything tangible about the trio of JobKeeper rorts, car park pork-barrelling and the appalling way Brittany Higgins has been brushed aside will follow this government to the next election. Throwing JobKeeper at employers initially seemed appropriate because saving jobs was vital. But billions more than was required was paid. Free money proved irresistible to many employers who overnight became extraordinarily pessimistic about their business in order to qualify. An inexplicable failure to provide any legal power to claw back over-payments is the costliest blunder of any Australian government. The failure to re-calibrate the scheme after this excess was identified as negligent. Refusing to publicly provide full information smacks of a cover-up; Treasury has billions of reasons to hide its own failure. Australians only find out because of market scrutineer, Ownership Matters, who have cross-matched public information from the ASX. Only the ATO knows what happened inside private entities. The churches and religious schools who trousered excess millions will presumably be judged in some other forum. The refusal to provide universities with any assistance smacks of cultural cringe. As the Crown casino inquiry heard last week, if there are no consequences for illegal or unethical behaviour, then nothing is likely to change."


A snippet, on theatre directors, in fact film, television, all directors; a strange breed. On theatre, perhaps the correct wording is 'under a few' but this would be a big stretch, considering I rarely took any notice of them. I respected a few, certainly. Mark Callan was an aggressive bugger, intellectual as well, spare me. Ditto Neil Armfield in the intellectual sense, also amazing talent, but softer, more cuddly. I did two half hearted auditions for Greg Carroll and Peter Sommerfeld, both clearly against my casting, but got them anyway, snarly buggers, for reasons best known. I sort of sensed their attitude, which can prompt an 'up you' attitude on call, though not necessarily showing it, who knows? Peter Oyston was fiery early on but matured after I told him I loved his paintings. Malcolm Robertson was a darling, easily brushed aside if he challenged my comedic ability. We were best friends, loved the man. I particularly loved the rehearsal process. A close-up study of human nature. Stress, anxiety, laughter, pressure, creativity, beauty. Almost every day the various fascinations. I would take notes later at home, not of the play, of the clashes as (maybe?) I imagined? Never to be represented here, or when I reach 90, assuming I remember where I hid them? True, occasionally the spotlight was on me, but easily deflected, so one assumes they gave up, a lost cause? Reflecting, perhaps because I began in my thirties, almost 20 years as a public servant, the last 6 years at a senior level, thus unaccustomed to receiving orders, an attitude established beyond repair? Then there were the female directors, Anne Pendlebury, Karen Scott- Watson, Nancy Black, Caz Howard, Margaret Davis, Melanie Beddie, and for  television Jovita O’Shaughnessy. To  write anything about living creatures, particularly females in this day and age, can be fraught with danger, so let's settle on each and every one of them being thought of as darlings, amusing at times but always, darlings. The beautiful story of Karen asking the performers to improvise for 30 minutes before the audience were allowed in, their characters as children, while I remained upstairs for a cigarette. Nancy asking the cast to  write a squiggle on a piece of paper and represent said squiggle lying on the rehearsal floor, Nancy thoughtfully asking me why I was just sitting there watching. I'll leave it there. Maybe write a book one day. Nah, too late. 


The modern Morrison Indigenous Australians portfolio, like the NDIS, don't hold your breath...Final episode of the ABC's Mad as Hell last Wednesday; all class. Come back soon...Negative gearing is unfair, so too the retirement tax-free incomes and tax refunds for tax they haven’t paid, franking credit refunds. Chop them out and use the savings on more money for an anti-corruption commission and the Auditor-General's office? At best a slim chance? I could add the ABC, but no chance....David Speers soft cop approach on Minister Greg Hunt last Sunday Insiders was bland enough, continued on in his laughing attitude (seemingly) to the car parks fiasco. We miss Barrie Cassidy...The armed forces question on the census, including national service, extracting known information?...Jobkeeper compares with pink bats as a mountain to a molehill...Gerard Whateley and Garry Lyon, the Righteous Brothers, on and on with AFL (Taylor Walker) racism, not to mention LGBTQ people; hot air. Interesting to note both came down hard on Toby Greene, surely an 'in the play' accident. Strange how Whateley has a changed attitude to the Geelong captain...Orchids yet again, to Michael Leunig, despite recent criticism...Here is an IMPORTANT message for all callers to radio stations: By all means say hello, but do not include "How are you?"..."They that know no evil will suspect none." [Ben Jonson]...Keep yourselves nice, leave your worries on the bloody doorstep...Cliff Ellen.









JANE (OFF) “ Dad, where are you? Dad.” 

Glen: Allright, allright. In a minute ok? You don’t object to me having a quiet moment on the loo? Nature calls treasure. (TO HIMSELF) Daughters. Bloody sheepdogs. Nip, nip, nip, at your heels. Never stops. (SITS ON TOILET) Why is it that when your kids push into their 30’s they suddenly know everything, whereas we parents - at the exact same time - know nothing? In her genes I expect...on my wife’s side. 


(LOOKS AT THE AUDIENCE) The king in his castle eh? Luxuriating. Ahh. That’s better. Gets the taste out of my mouth. Jane left her E 1 cream right where I keep my toothpaste and I didn’t look. Vitamin enriched teeth. Ooh, the nicotine. She gave me some multi-vitamins to take a month back to make me feel better. Women love vitamins. This is my private lavatory- the outside loo. My study. My space. My castle. I leave the door open because the backyard forms part of my wonderful space. Nobody can see in you see. All that greenery over there almost covers that back fence, although Mrs know-it-all’s next door cat sometimes appears out of nowhere to check me out. (SSS. “Get out of it Monet, there’s no bottles in here”.) That’s a factory behind that fence; just see the brick wall behind that lemon tree and the plum tree, and those giant monsteria’s. See? Totally private. A clothing factory, specialising in swinging gear for swinging puncy guys. I’ve given up smoking so this is a secret smoke, complete with PK (SHOWS THE PK) in case of emergency. Jane thinks I’m wonderful not smoking. I get a big tick for that. Two ticks if I take my vitamins. Very rare to get ticks from women. Good for the self esteem. Actors need self esteem. I’m an actor, ac-tor, out of work-at the moment. Long bloody moment. Nine months with no foreseeable future. Resting but happy. Very relaxed. No depression. No stress. (SSS. “Go away monet. Don’t you spray in my backyard”). If the telephone rings with the big offer from my agent I’m ready. I’d let it ring 3 or 4 times just to show how cool I am. 


(MIMES) “What’s that Terry? Six months on location at Noosa Heads? And only 2 days a week but they’ll pay me a weekly rate? $10,000 a week. And what, I just have to pop in and out occasionally? On the 2 days a week. High rise accommodation with balcony surfside? OK Terry mate, give me a day or so to consider it. As a personal favour to you, I’ll see if I can squeeze it in.” 


Bloody dickheads! Sitting by the phone eh. Some actors actually do that. True. They just sit there, and they wait. Well, not real actors. I wouldn’t bother myself. I mean, what point sitting there, all day long, tied to the bloody telephone? I’ve got my iphone5! (PRODUCES HIS MOBILE TELEPHONE PREVIOUSLY HIDDEN) You never know right? Something urgent might crop up. There’s some good actors out of work you know. “talented people in a land of self-conscious, ironic, laconic, out- going, resentful, sunbronzed, non-rascist, multicultural,“Auzzies”, consumed by doubt, fear, their reputation, searching for self-awareness, truth!” An iphone5 could make the difference......I’m not resentful. No siree, I’m happy jack. I love everybody, even directors! Theatre administrators, sponsors, Eddie McGuire, Pauline Hanson, theatre critics...well, that’s stretching it a bit. Using love and theatre critics in the one breath. In my last play 9 months back, or was it 19 I’ve lost track, they said I wasn’t vulnerable enough. Too wooden they said. Well, one of them said. It only takes one little ferret. They’d know all about wooden, they invented the bloody word, made of it. More vulnerable eh? They love that word. I was playing a bloody serial killer! No. Mustn’t think like that. They’re ok. Where would we be without theatre critics eh? Good question. Broome probably...or Rye. 


Actually you know, it wouldn’t hurt to give Terry a ring. He may well have forgotten my mobile number? Maybe I didn’t give it to him? You can go a bit ratty sometimes sitting around waiting for the phone to ring...I wonder if the mail’s arrived yet?...oh bugger it, why not call him eh? (DIALS) Why not indeed. He gets his 10%. The bastard. Live dangerously! 

(TELEPHONE) good morning it’s Glen Gardiner here, is Terry about? Glen Gardiner. (SPELLS GARDINER) (TO AUDIENCE) she’s new...hello Terry, it’s Glen here, how goes it? Glen Gardiner mate. How’s business? Very slow at the moment. Yeah I know. Got to stay positive mate. Me? Never fitter old son. Fit as a mallee...trout. No, no bull. I’ve been sitting around doing nothing for months, and loving it. What? Maxwell Smart? Oh, right, and loving it, yeah. Good one Terry. No I needed the break really, freshen up the instincts. You get a bit stale when you work for months on end without a break. Well, so I’m told. No I don’t feel guilty, no sir. I’ve got a big sign up in my study. “Don’t feel guilty” Anyway, I just rang to tell you I’m here. Oh I know you know, but I’ll probably feel like working in another month or so and you know the old story - out of sight out of mind - out of mind out of work - out of work out of pocket - out of pocket disaster...Oh I know you’ll keep me in mind, you always have. Hells bells I’m one of the lucky ones having you as an agent. The best agent in the business I might add. No, I’m serious! I do not believe in sucking up, but I firmly believe it doesn’t hurt to tell the truth, and the truth is you are the best, no question. What’s that? A part in a film. Fantastic! ...sorry?... oh, a part in a student film, right. right... how big’s the part?... couple of scenes eh...well, I suppose it keeps me in practice...eh? No dialogue, right... mnn. Any money? No money either...what about expenses? No expenses... and what? A night shoot, and a possible nude scene...ahh, probably not Terry. It’s not as if I need the work. Anyway Tezz, nice talking to you old mate. Just thought I’d check in. I’m still alive as they say. Eh, we must have lunch one day, chew over the fat, my shout...bit busy at the moment, right. Well, when you’re ready just give me a hoy, and I insist on paying, the least I can do....well, back to relaxation plus. I might journey up to Chadstone later this afternoon, see my daughter Gloria, have a hot strong cappuccino. Eh? Half my luck? Haha. You my friend are one very funny man. See you pal. Oh, I nearly forgot. I got myself one of those new mobile phones a week back. iPhone 5. swisho camera, torch, the works. Very good as a security device yes. Also of course if you need to contact me and I happen to be out on the road, or on location, or...what’s that? Haha. Yeah, or at Chaddy having a cappuccino - good one Terry. You are one very farcical fellow. Anyway, I’ll give you the number. What? Oh, you’ve got it, right...couple of days ago...right. I forgot. Not to worry. Okey dokey, Tezza. great talking to you. Hear from you soon, I hope. Hah. Only joking Tezz. Bye. (PRESSES END) 


Lovely fellow, very funny man. Used to be an actor. (HAND GESTURE-VERY AVERAGE) A student film eh. Perhaps I should have said yes. Some of those kids could be famous one day. Still, I’d probably have to audition- for some snotty nosed 20 year old telling me that anyone can act, and how directors make actors. Finish up I’d tell the little snot to shove the film up his shortarse. Maybe I wouldn’t get the part? Shit! Still, one good thing, the next time somebody asks, I can say I was offered a good role in a film, but knocked it back. I mean, I don’t have to say it was a student film, right? 


I remember that last student film I did. A little blonde chicky directing. Earring in her nose. Looked about 18. Middle of winter, freezing cold, and all she had on was a thin black T shirt with the words “up you for the rent” written on it, and scungy jeans with holes everywhere, even near her crutch? Well, you couldn’t help looking. Called everyone “guys”. And everything was “cool”. Very cliquey her and her rabble mates, standing around for hours on end trying to get the lighting right. I think it was the lighting, they never tell you. All smoking drum tobacco and whispering, like they knew what they were doing. One of the crew said to me “how long have you been an extra?” The dickhead. “I’m an actor” I told him. Still, they had free coffee. No toilets, nowhere to rest. Just standing in a hallway, with practised politeness; me and two extras from outer space-extra terrestrials standing there in this dusty hallway for hours on end drinking Pablo instant coffee, and me despairing as to what the hell I was doing there. It’s ironic really. Extras are geniuses at talking, they never shut up, which didn’t particularly suit them in this film because they were both playing dead nude bodies. They were quite excited about it too. One of them was an older lady, apparently a star of amateur theatre in her youth. Geraldine. the Woy Woy amateur dramatic society, or Nar Nar Goon, or something. Anyway, according to geraldine they were- 


(GERALDINE’S VOICE)...”Very very talented and as good as any professional company.” Is that a fact Geraldine? Good for you darling. That’s terrific. No, me either. I can’t have a bar of that so-called method acting. “Is that right?” I said, “You were in Homicide once, good for you. Not another nude b o d y p a r t ? N o ? A prostitute. Wow. How bloody exciting. I agree darling, in real life people do bump into the furniture.” Shit a bloody brick! 


And the other bloke? What was his name? Harold? I think it was Harold. Definitely a nut case. A psychiatrist’s dream. He would have been about 50, with this jet black... toupee, poor bugger. Listed all his credits, from number 96 onwards, even had a part in Evil Angels. Who didn’t? How the highlight of his career was meeting and working with Meryl Streep in Evil Angels. What a lady she was. Offered him a piece of her kit cat apparently. Save my soul. I wonder if he played the dingo? Geraldine asked for a closed set in the nude scene, obviously quite excited. ..still, it’s a job. something to do with honing your skills, if you’ve got any. 


I had an audition a month back, for a commercial They are hell on bloody earth mate. The arse end of reality. Like meeting up for a school reunion where they’re all successful and you’re a clerk from Cranbourne - or an actor. You do a full performance in front of your fellow actors, your peers - before the audition begins! Being calm, happy, friendly... 

“Hello John, how are you? Good to catch up you old bastard” Wanting to look at your lines because it flashes through your mind you can’t remember how the piece of bullshit starts even. But not daring to, chatting away merrily instead. A cool cat. Keeping face. And absolutely dreading the question that you know for certain someone will eventually ask... 

“Are you doing anything at the moment?” 

Get stuffed you bastard! The only ones who ask are the ones in work. So not only do you have to have some bullshit answer ready, but you then have to listen attentively to what they’re doing, which was the purpose of the question in the first place, and then respond, enthusiastically... “That’s wonderful John. Well done old friend. You deserve it. Noosa Heads? Terrific. I see. Only 2 days a week but they’re paying a weekly rate. $15,000. You deserve it mate”. Thinking to yourself-you deserve to catch a 50 foot wave full of white pointers you smug bastard. Shit a bloody brick! And, and, get this, if by some freak of nature, you happen to be working, doing any piddling little thing, they say “And what are you doing after that?’ Get stuffed you bastard. God, please, let me out. By the time you audition, for yet another snot nosed unheard of director, probably from New Zealand, or Sydney, you’re a nervous bloody wreck. Takes all your strength to maintain your dignity. But somehow you do, even in the face of the unheard of snot nosed director asking, as they always do...”What have you been up to lately Glen?” Read the CV you bum! But you say nothing, or you mumble how much you just adore the crappy script, or you mention your part in “Pharlap” and they say “Far who?” Farruchi! Dead in the water. Breathe steadily from the diaphragm, offset the oncoming panic attack... 

I was terrible. It’s really embarrassing when you’re terrible. You can tell half way through. Something’s wrong. You’re off balance. Not centred. You think, maybe I should stop and start again? But you don’t. You finish it. And you feel stupid. It hurts bad, and you try desperately not to show it. Worse still if the director is someone you know...”We’ll give you a call” he says. Or she. Yeah, and I’ll be winning Lotto tomorrow. But you jump every time the phone rings - for the following six weeks. Unfortunately my wife is a social butterfly with eight brothers and sisters, so you become a nervous wreck...I missed out. Again. Well I think I missed out. That was only four weeks ago and they haven’t called yet. They still could be deciding? It was a superannuation commercial, and I haven’t got hair. See? Ever seen a retirement ad with an old bloke without hair? Lovely grey flowing locks the bloody skites. I could wear a hat...or a wig? Well...who cares eh? Who wants a silly commercial anyway? Against my principles. Who wants to play a bloody green frog? 

JANE(OFF) I’m out to do some shopping dad. 

GLEN Don’t forget lotto.

JANE What? 

GLEN Don’t forget lotto. 

JANE What?

GLEN (YELLS) Don’t forget powerball!

JANE I know dad. what are you yelling for? 

GLEN What! 

Ahh, peace at last. I can smoke inside now if I want. No. She’d smell it. She’s OK. I’d be lost without her. My wife, my darling wife, is on a two week holiday in Bali with her mad sister, package deal, twin share. I thought I’d give it a miss. Not into body massages, or aeroplanes really. I met my wife in 1960 at a football match. Collingwood verses Melbourne at the MCG. We were both in the queue to buy a pie and sauce. In those days there was no point going to the footy unless you liked a pie and sauce, or a hot dog, or hot roasted peanuts. No health warnings back then. I remember one day the bloke serving the hot dogs cut his finger on the server and the blood flowed freely into the hot dog juices. Nobody cared. All they were interested in was their hot dogs and the second half of the footy. This is her first overseas holiday, and her first holiday ever without me...we used to go off on holidays every year in the old kingswood. Me, darling, and the four girls. “I spy with my little eye”, something beginning with...R.W. I was good at that. I was the champ really. Only ever beaten once. True. Once...RW...daughter Gloria had me going for 2 hours on a holiday to Coffs Harbour. Nearly to Benalla before I gave in. 

RW....the bastard. Turned out to be wrist watch. 

Mind you it’s just as well I’m keen on women. I’ve got 4 daughters and one granddaughter. You can imagine the verbal chaos when we all sit down for tea together. Hell on earth part two. Six women around the table, not a dribble of a chance of getting a word in, and the world’s most boring son-in- law. Rex! He’s an actuary. Permaculture garden. Doesn’t follow the football, or any other sport, and subscribes to the M.T.C. That’s the Melbourne Theatre Company. Naturally this makes him an expert in judging an actor’s performance. All subscribers to the MTC are world class drama critics, particularly if the Age newspaper gives a good review. He came to see me once, in a delightful little production at La Mama. (PRONOUNCED LAH MAMAAH) Decidedly uncomfortable he was. Wouldn’t even have a free cup of coffee. I think he was suspicious as to where the cups might have been. He thought the theatre was the foyer. He crossed the stage, went out the far door, and finished up in the back lane. He looked a picture though, in his single breasted 3 button brown suit and his white skivvy. Rex thought the play was...interesting. What else. To an actor “interesting” is the dreaded word. 

Rex rides his bike you know, every Sunday morning around Studley park, in kew. Well, actually it’s not just any old bike. Oh no. It’s a mountain bike. And he doesn’t even ride it to Studley Park. He puts it in the back of his 4 wheel drive nissan pathfinder bloody tractor with bull bars, tractors to Studley Park, out with the mighty mountain bike, does his laps, back into the tractor, and pathfinds his way home to his little cottage in lah de bloody dah kew. The kew cottage. Complete with ensuite, spa bath, swimming pool, two car garage, and views. I’ve never been to Studley Park, but I’ll bet there’s no bloody mountains. 

Looking forward to that mail. Waiting on my cheque for the screen test I did for that commercial. Sixty bucks less commission less tax...Sixty? You know I’m over 50. You probably don’t believe it but I am. It gets you thinking. you become aware of the zip, zip, zip process. It can haunt you. Life zips by right? Have you noticed? Even when you’re not working it zips along. One day your 40, the next your nearing 60. How come? When a part does come your way it zips by faster. You can’t wait for it to happen. Must stay fit. Up to the health shop for those multivitamins, apple cider vinegar, Saunders baby malt extract. Can’t afford a cold. Two days before opening night you feel a slight wheeze in your chest, or throat. COUGHS) Shit! Don’t tell me, you think. Not now. Let me stay fit until after the play. You encourage the zipping process. Zippedy doo dah. Bastard! Cease zipping. Life. The big zipper. (TELEPHONE-INSIDE THE HOUSE) Hello hello? Maybe the old leo luck is shining through? Maybe I get to play the green frog? Maybe I pricked Terry’s conscience? Could be a job offer from one of the theatre gurus? Could be a lead role in a movie. Mission Impossible 3 starring Tom Cruise, and introducing Glen Gardiner. Could be Centrelink. You make your own luck in this business, right? So they say. (STARTS TO EXIT-STOPS AT THE THOUGHT) My god, what if they want me to cry? (EXITS) 






A Grain of Salt.😎

Saturday 7th August, 2021. I'm thinking back to those westerns, the wagon trains, women and children to a new life out west, perhaps singing a song, yodelling, suddenly forced into a defensive circle, families crouching down, fathers, cowboys and cowgirls taking guard, rifles and guns at the ready, and the Indians (no offence) are circling, screaming, with bows and arrows, flying though the air. Hemmed in, deep breaths, the question of survival. Living down South here in Rye some of my friends are rusted on Liberal supporters, no problem. My vote wavers regularly, as in never voting for the liberal party, believing in Labor's general philosophies, appreciating the usual content of self-serving pricks, occasionally my vote if a good local nominee, generally elsewhere. Scott (Gold gold gold) Morrison's record, or list of deficiencies, stares us in the face, and yet, the blind observance of refusing to look, albeit some pissy explanation as to the logic of Scotty's blame game nonsense? True, I was for Billy Shorten because I liked his policies, turned out he got done by a point despite the justice of negative gearing and capital gains, and as with a football game the experts in the field came out with seemingly sound reasons for the barest of margins win. Now we have Albo, deciding the power of the rich is too big a hurdle, a different approach, likely sensible, but far from convincing. The bottom line is that Scotty doing a strip on Point Nepean highway would make no difference to my rusted on friends. More likely they would blame Labor for forcing him to show his true size. [Chris Brayne, state Labor for Nepean, would be advised to think of another future, thanks to Danny Boy's lockdown.] [Cassandra Goldie, The Saturday Paper. "It is surreal that in the middle of mass lockdowns, when those affected have to feed and house themselves on little more than unemployment payments of $44 a day, we see the ALP join the federal government to lock in the largest tax cut package the country has seen. It also beggars belief that in a year when home prices are tipped to rise by almost 20 per cent in our capital cities, tax breaks such as negative gearing and the capital gains discounts are now bipartisan policy. The seriousness of these decisions cannot be overstated."]


How things change, from Niki Savva, The Age, on our blame game, sexist, philistine, Sydney-centric PM: "During his tenure, Morrison has fallen short on three critical occasions. The first was during the bushfires when he snuck off to Hawaii. He showed no grace and little remorse after he was forced to return by saying people did not expect him to hold a hose, mate. The second was underestimating the depth of feeling among women demanding change after hearing Grace Tame’s powerful advocacy and Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations. Even after his wife Jenny explained the significance to him, Morrison told the thousands who protested they were lucky not to live in a country where they could be shot for demonstrating. The third is the travesty of the vaccination rollout, a rolling unmitigated disaster plagued by inadequate supplies, poor planning, and contradictory messaging which he sought to mask by telling Australians weeks after he had received his first Pfizer shot, that it was not a race, feeding both complacency and hesitancy." [Do we have a choice? From St Matthew "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other side. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also."] 


Footy Classified on Nine: I didn't think I'd ever say this, but there you go. Always had Craig Hutchison (Mondays) as a ratbag football commentator, a millionaire who gives his opinions to stir the waters, not to be taken seriously, whereas our Eddie McGuire (Wednesdays) was the main man. Like Hawthorn and the coaching debacle one never knows. Caroline Wilson is the star of both shows yet lately Craig has risen from his ashes as being almost respectable, to be listened to? Eddie, sadly, regularly drowns out the opening segment by enjoying the sound of his own voice. Are we really into the ins and outs of a duck's bum on football administration? What is the man trying to prove? Also on football, I'm hoping Geelong does not win this year's AFL premiership. Jeremy Cameron did the dirty on GWS. Loyalty to the backline.


The second last Straw? Federal law enforcement agencies are set to receive sweeping online account takeover powers under new legislation designed to cripple serious criminal activity on the dark web giving the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission the ability to disrupt criminal activity and collect intelligence. Peter Dutton's Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020. It follows $90 million in funding in the government's cyber enhanced situational awareness and response (CESAR) package to strengthen the AFP's cyber crime investigative capabilites. “As technology has changed so too has the tradecraft of criminals,” Dutton said introducing the bill. A third “account takeover power” will allow officers to take control of a person’s online account to gather evidence about serious offences, as well as that of their associates. It is expected to help law enforcement “uncover identities of individuals operating online and identify potential victims.” Any takeover will be “covert” and “forced”, according to the bill's explanatory memorandum, whereas at present agencies can only take over a person's account with their consent. “The account takeover power will enable an officer to obtain exclusive control of an online account and prevent the person's continued access to a forum, and the further dissemination of child abuse material,” Dutton said. “A magistrate will need to be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspicion and account takeover is necessary for the purpose of gathering evidence for a serious offence. [The matter of a friendly magistrate, which, historically, has rarely been a problem for the likes of the Peter Dutton lookalikes.]


Memory flashes: At the RSL, somebody mentioned hangings and my mind zipped back, performing as the Governor in the play Remember Ronald Ryan 1994. John Brumpton and Freddy Whitlock as Walker and Ronald Ryan. Scene first up after interval, interviewing them, both stark naked. The pain of not looking down, of willing myself not to crack up, the suspicion of both, particularly Brumpton, always a gleam in his eyes, of extending those private parts for my benefit. I think I survived, it was a serious scene, hope so. I can still, 27  years ago, almost feel the pain.        


Paul Keating: "Ross Gittins is right in arguing that the bare transfer of public monopolies to private ownership via government privatisation too often permits new private monopolies to raise prices, forgoing the efficiencies which would otherwise flow from competition (‘‘Why government reforms are not always for the best’’, The Age, 2/8). But he is completely wrong in suggesting that ‘‘the Keating government stuffed up the privatisation of capital-city airports, particularly Sydney’s’’. The Keating government did no such thing. Indeed, it did not privatise Sydney Airport or any other airports to private investors. Sydney Airport was privatised and sold by the Howard government to Macquarie Bank on a 99-year lease in 2002." [ Go Pauly, our man. And Kevvy Rudd? Never to be forgotten for robbing cigarette smokers of their daily health food intake - for life.] 


Early glory? Skite skite skite? Two gongs, Christies Radio Auditions, singing "Sunny Side of the Street" in a duo with Graham Campbell, compered by John McMahon with Shirley Radford on the organ, 3UZ, circa 1952. Also received 1 gong for acting. Tick tick? 


Anson Cameron, The Age: "Can you think of another office that has, in a lifetime, descended so far from the gilded peak of respect and admiration to the coaldust valley of contempt and ridicule as that of prime minister? (Obviously excluding: priests, schoolteachers, professional sportsmen, festival directors, crime bosses, mining magnates, local councillors, generals, knights, housewives and anyone on a university faculty.) But how could we not lose all respect for the office, given our prime ministers invariably turn out to be mouthpieces and frontmen for money and self-interest? This current bloke, smiling like a dolphin, fending off reality with sound-bites and covert prayer, is routinely goaded by FM jocks. Which is a type of egalitarianism, I suppose." [Anson, one classy writer.]


National Service 1955/2. We entered Sydney Harbour, at attention, on deck, all the way to Garden Island. Then we had to transfer (walk) to our allotted ships with our hammocks on our shoulders, me to HMAS Voyager, a Destroyer, where we were inspected as we boarded. Alas! My hammock was sagging at both ends, down to my waist. Apparently the hammock should be tied up in such a way that they float for days. Why wasn’t I told? Straight on to extra duties. Only me. Everyone else’s perfect, similar (possibly?) to their penis’s almost every night. We spent the next 4-6 weeks doing naval exercises in and around Jervis Bay. Voyager was much smaller than an aircraft carrier, so we were mixed in with regular sailors. They clearly resented us (smartarse nashos). Most of the intake, unlike the Army, were pretty intelligent; some, like me, cunning, but they put up with us. They had to. I slept in a passageway, just near the gangplank up onto the deck. It was a bastard of a ship, or more accurately run by a tough bastard. Some months after we left the ship, while overseas, they actually mutinied. Hushed up of course. One night (around midnight) they called “action stations”, big hooters sounding off - so here’s me asleep, with all these conscientious buggers bumping my hammock as they charge up on deck. Shit! I just got there on time. Then they shove us into longboats (Jervis Bay? Sharks? 10 foot waves! True, that night) and into the water for 15 minutes. Why, you idiots!!! 


Loved the one on Facebook, about the man in bed excited after buying gold condoms. Said the wife (dreamimg?) “Why don’t you use the silver and come second?”...Wage grants and business cash losses, slush funds for many...ABC "Rosehaven, the final series", the good news is the word - final...To all those budding reporters out there never give up, it's not a difficult curve. You're doubtful? Listen to the constant screwball questions the daily current crop fire at the COVID daily announcements...Eighty five years on and I've never met or known anyone who has won the lottery, or for that matter anyone with COVID. Perspective?...The RSL, two unvaccinated tradies, one with a wife and child, oblivious to the risk factor. I tried, but brick walls don't listen...Albanese's suggestion of $300 to be vaccinated sounds silly, but listening to the wall if ignorance locally, it's a good idea...Skateboarding, BMX, Synchronized Swimming and Surfing; What?...The Centre for Public Integrity, an independent group led by former judges and anti-corruption experts, says 100 per cent of Auditor-General audits of grants programs since 2019 have found flaws ranging from minor problems to serious maladministration; as  we  have come to  expect, sadly...No doubt those warm and fuzzy independent voters carry a feeling of contempt for both leaders but how does this connect with running our country? The impotent are pure?...And still, tragically, Julian Assange rots in Belmarsh prison...Living in the moment - Bacon. "Imagination I  understand to be the representation of an individual thought, of three kinds; joined with the belief of that which is to come, joined with the memory of that which is past, and of things present."...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






CAROLE (ENTERING) Would you like some breakfast before I go?

ROBERT No thanks.

CAROLE Got anything planned for today?

ROBERT Not likely love.

CAROLE You’re not going to Werribee?

ROBERT Staying home.


ROBERT You go off to work. I’ll be fine. Serves me right anyway...probably drown in self pity.

CAROLE What good will that do?

ROBERT Might teach me a bloody lesson. (PAUSE) Ricky go home?

CAROLE I called him a cab. David wanted to stay and talk, but Vonny and I kicked him out.

ROBERT Bloody David.

CAROLE He was only trying to help.

ROBERT He’s a smartarse.

CAROLE He’s a friend.

ROBERT I don’t want to talk to anyone.

CAROLE Turn the answering machine on.

ROBERT Soon as you go to work. 

CAROLE What’s wrong with Rick?

ROBERT I don’t know. I think Sue might have dropped him. He wont say too much. Gets a few into him and turns nasty...takes it out on me .

CAROLE He won though?

ROBERT Makes him even nastier. Sometimes I think he’s jealous of me.


ROBERT He’s always fancied you. Perhaps he thinks I don’t deserve you. Where’s Beck?

CAROLE Gone to school. Where did you go? (PAUSE) Where were you?


CAROLE Out where?

ROBERT God knows... I was in the car.

CAROLE I looked in the car.

ROBERT I was on the floor in the back seat. Didn’t come in till 3. Had a lot of bleeding to do.

CAROLE That’s a good thing.

ROBERT (LAUGHS) Yes. Bloody fool.

CAROLE I’ll get you a fresh coffee.

ROBERT I’ve had two already. A dozen cigarettes. Why am I so stupid?

CAROLE You’re the only one who can answer that.

ROBERT The difference between winning and losing is a nostril. You know? And it’s hell. Champagne to cats piss. All over the fucking country. All those betting pools. A world of excitement my arse-

CAROLE A world of pleasure?

ROBERT Capital required. Shit. It’s a bloody drug love. You’re better off without me?

CAROLE Vonny would agree.

ROBERT She’d be right! Idiotic. That’s the point. I bet because I want to win. I certainly don’t want to lose! A sport? That’s a joke. I mean, if I win I feelimportant. I want to do good things. I’d buy your carpet. Set you up in business. I’d love to buy Becky a car. I’d love to buy you the world.The intangible winning streak. King of the road. That’s it, you see? You never know when it’s ended. All of a sudden you’re down the black hole.

CAROLE So stop.

ROBERT Oh I’ve stopped. That much I’m sure of. It’s knowing when to stop before you lose your marbles. 

CAROLE It’s your own fault you know.

ROBERT Too late, but I know.

CAROLE It’s selfish too.

ROBERT When you win it’s fantastic. But losing is so...gut wrenching. I just can’t bear the pain. And I know I was selfish love. But I’ve stopped.

CAROLE You promise?

ROBERT Hah. Yes love, I absolutely promise. I mean it. It’s like bloody poker isn’t it? Just waiting for that one big hand to get you back in business. Luck. The unknown factor. Bloody Ricky. He’s got it. Why him? Me? I’m a chaser.

CAROLE He’s not so lucky with his women.

ROBERT So it seems. Unlike me eh?

CAROLE I told you.

ROBERT And you were right.  When you walk onto a racetrack you leave your brains at the front entrance.

CAROLE You want me to stay home?

ROBERT No, no. You go. I need to think.

CAROLE You need to go back to work.

ROBERT You know how much I lost?

CAROLE I don’t want to know-

ROBERT All of it......twelve grand...in 10 days. Can you believe it? 

CAROLE That’s disgusting Rob. 

ROBERT I know.

CAROLE Maybe you need counselling.

ROBERT Maybe I do. Shit. I haven’t even got the money for Beck’s excursion.

CAROLE I gave it to her.

ROBERT You’re a bloody marvel love. God, what a mess. I lost over $4000 yesterday.

CAROLE You lied to me yesterday.

ROBERT I panicked. Like a drowning rat. I’d promised all those things. I even backed the favourite in the last at 6 to 4. I never back favourites. Beaten by a nostril by a 20/1 chance. Ricky backed the bloody winner.

CAROLE He told me.

ROBERT He would, the bastard.

CAROLE I’ve got to go to work. We’ll forget the Gift Shop and put the carpets on Visa.

ROBERT What will Vonny say?

CAROLE She’ll understand. 

ROBERT No she wont.

CAROLE You can’t blame her. 

ROBERT No. We should go away on a holiday-Sydney or something.

CAROLE What with?

ROBERT I’m sorry darling.


ROBERT Never again.

CAROLE It’s serious Rob. You have a problem.

ROBERT Shoot me if I lie.


ROBERT I’m not home.

CAROLE (ANSWERS) Hello. Hello David. How are you...No, everything’s fine... Yes, he’s here. (ROBERT INDICATES NO, BUT CAROLE IGNORES)

ROBERT Goodaye Dave... No, of course I’m allright, what did you think? No, just letting off steam... Yeah, bad day. No. Still got some left... Never you mind...enough. (LAUGHS) You’re kidding? Werribee? No. I’m a bit washed out. I’ll give it a miss mate. Yeah. No. Here, talk to Carole.

CAROLE Yes David? He doesn’t want to go. No, definitely not. Look I have to go to work. No. He’s gone to the loo. Bye. (HANGS UP) 

ROBERT The bastard was testing me.

CAROLE He’s your friend.

ROBERT He’s cunning. That’s his nature.

CAROLE I’m going.

ROBERT Tomorrow still on?

CAROLE I’ve already taken the day off.

ROBERT Good. Give me a kiss. (SHE DOES) What would I do without you?

CAROLE Have you got any money?

ROBERT I’m fine darling. Pay day tomorrow.

CAROLE Do you need any?

ROBERT No, no. I must have $50 or $60 in coin.

CAROLE OK. Bye love.

ROBERT You know I love you.

CAROLE I know. 


ROBERT Helloo. Rick? You bastard. How do you feel?... Good. Serves you right you bastard. You crucified me........ Never mind about the sorry bit. You’re a hopeless pisspot. You’re sick, you know that, and don’t blame Sue... Oh I’m loaded aren’t I. Who are you kidding! You know Dave just rang. Wanted me to go to Werribee. Testing me the prick, before he runs to Vonny... No. Told him to piss off... No, she’s fine. I mean she’s not happy, but she’s fine....Yeah. Lucky in love. Hah.... What, you too? What is this? I’ve sworn off them mate. For life...Yeah? Taking a half day off eh... You’re kidding. What credit cards? Shit. She doesn’t know about them yet. She’d shoot me. I’ll have to watch for the mail... Yeah? How much?  I’ve only got about $20.....Tempting. You’d have to get me home before 5.30.....  Make it $200. Pay day tomorrow..You’re a champion. Yeah. Fix you tomorrow-IF I lose ... No, bugger Dave. Vonny’s bloody agent. One last try eh....Yeah. See you in a couple of hours. And suffer you bastard. (HANGS UP. PAUSE. CLENCHES HIS FISTS)

YES! (PICKS UP THE FORM GUIDE) Come to Poppa.   






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜€

Monday 2nd August, 2021. Resourcefulness and innovation has left the building, the question of of adaptation remains, on shaky grounds. The jury is out. It's my time for change. Nothing new, I've experienced so many throughout the years, with (generally) a mix of need and enthusiasm. It's funny, but it's not, when the reality tells me my change options are severely limited, if bloody any? I often ponder when I read of some chap being kept in Remand until his case is heard some 4 or 6 months into the future. In lockdown, heating, meals, television provided and daily bouts of fresh air. No bail money no computer, anxiety, stress, who knows? Stress is invisible. Helen Reddy - Delta Dawn, could it be a faded rose from days gone by? Keep on keeping on, until, if ever, the arrival of ingenuity? Back to basics: Good strong leadership and governments to work together. Piece of cake? Our Sydney-centric Scotty in top form in his National Press Club address last Wednesday. Apparently forgetting his words of many moons past ("We are leading the world") in containing the virus? Counting the days to 70% vaccinations - and then, an election? PM pledges vaccine plan to prevent lockdowns; buying votes, cynical me? Labor has ‘‘abandoned’’ would-be homeowners and low income households wanting to buy homes, negative gearing. Maybe not. Clear the decks, why make themselves a sitting shot? Make it an all out attack on our mate Scotty. Knowing Scotty, well, purporting to know, he will use it anyway, not to mention the inference of Labor leaders into private negative gearing, Labor nest feathering? Alongside this, higher vaccination numbers does not mean the delta star or any possible new strain will depart. It’s nice to be fully vaccinated but it’s likely short of the final solution. Surely more lockdowns are our future? Having said this we are in fact all lucky. Comparisons may be odious but a look at other countries tells me we're doing well. Fresh air? I think yes, we all need fresh air, that and water, magic. Anxiety my foot. Reality. Writing this column requires some research obviously, at 85 the memory well on the decline. I could stop, do nothing, on remand by choice, or I could (would?) go nuts. No, stay calm. It was that bloody month; July. August 1st, 1957 I had my first date with my late wife, the start of something big. I'll listen to Sunday with Macca, ABC radio. A Morrison supporter, but anything to change the present. Who knows, I might even vote as a Green? 


John Hewson. The Saturday Paper. "Overall, recall the drone of words attempting to blame the states, the Europeans, even the vaccine advisory group for the rollout stuff-up. Recall Morrison’s dramatic shift in words from “lockdowns are a last resort” to “vaccines are not a substitute for lockdowns”. What is the public to make of this sudden and extravagant shift in the prime minister’s words? It is almost the opposite of what he said in defence of Gladys Berejiklian in late June, praising her world-class contact-tracing system, which he believed would mean Sydney would not go into lockdown. How can Morrison be trusted? How can he be considered a “leader”? Especially as he goes on pretending nothing has changed?Finally, recall all the words about economic “bounceback or snapback”, about “reset” and “recovery strategies”. Yet our economy has been left exposed to rolling lockdowns that could have been avoided, or at least minimised, by an accelerated vaccine rollout. This bewilderment of words is the outcome of Morrison’s daily political strategy, which focuses on the Stunt or the Big Announcement in an attempt to control the narrative. It is picked up, often without question or scrutiny, by the media – and tomorrow a different issue, often in a different location and probably with different words, will be offered. Morrison’s sole focus is to win the next election." [Obviously nothing new, but from a former Liberal leader.]


As a remembrance, from Mary Ellen, left us 28th July, 2004. "I’m lying on the bed with the balcony doors open & the sun streaming in onto me. We are about to wander off to the beach & lie on sun lounges. I’m getting brown. Mykonos is fantastic, clean, like I expected a Greek Island to be. We’ve been to the Port a couple of times for dinner, also seen where “Shirley Valentine” had dinner (big deal). Back to Ios tomorrow, a 5 hour ferry ride. I know it will be better this time. I’m not so desperately homesick anymore. I’m going back with a different & positive outlook. I’m going to laze in the sun & go to the Clubs at night. After all “if you can’t beat ‘em - join ‘em” I’m now on the beach, had my first swim, on a sun lounge on the waters edge, half under the umbrella. The water is pale aqua. A little colder than all the other places, around 21 degrees. Just a slight gasp as you slide under. Sandra & I are getting on very well, understanding each other better. She’s a bloody scream though,  can’t keep her hands out of her purse. She’s bought 5 times as much as me, plus $3500 worth of jewellery. Her husband will never notice it & when he does she’ll say it’s fake. So it’s our little secret. Sandra says she’ll be cleaning other people’s houses for years to pay for it. Our friends Russ & Lynn left this morning. A Hervey Bay couple, early 70’s. We met them on Kos, then the ferry to Mykonos & we all came here together at The Palace Hotel at 3am. Russ negotiated a cheaper rate for us, so we decided to stay longer. We had a few meals with them and they were great company. Russ is a retired air force pilot. He had many interesting stories about the war & gave us some tips on Italy. Well my treasures, even though I’m not homesick anymore, I am looking forward to coming home as I miss you all & love you all......Arrived back on Ios after 10 excellent days travelling the islands. Since leaving Athens we’ve been on water a total of 57 hours. Loved your letters Cliffie. As for me being “good” I’m always bloody good. I miss you also you dag. I’m having a really excellent time. Costing a fortune everywhere. I get money out thinking “this will last me such & such”. No bloody way. Everything costs. I’m not looking at the Visa slips or I’ll freak. I’ll freak when I get home, or rather we’ll both freak. I’ll be in bondage for years. Anyway, forget that. Had my hair coloured as soon as we got back. Got rid of all the grey strands from an English girl in a salon just near our front door. The last island we visited was Mykonos, from where I rung you. It was fantastic, very clean. Beautiful buildings perched among a pretty village much bigger than Ios - but in the same style. Ios a lot cheaper also. Mykonos geared for the rich & the gays - trendy money. I keep glancing at your letters Cliffie so I can answer you. Off to the beach. Back from the beach. Very hot, about 40 degrees. Jennifer is up, holding her head. No sign of Patch, probably snorkelling. Beni has gone to Santorini to meet her mother who has come from Denmark. Don’t muddle the photos. Love, kisses & my thoughts constantly... M.E. 


National Service, 1955. Most of our youth were called up for 3 months in the Army followed by 5 years of availability. It was almost impossible to get into the Navy or Air Force unless you were a Reserve or had lots of push. Uncle Bill Henderson, Mum’s upmarket brother from Kew, was a Senior Chaplain in the Royal Australian Navy and his influence got me accepted. Those first 6 weeks: It quickly became, by way of networking, the necessity to be a part of the influential group, and protection. They carried themselves with a feeling of superiority, for no good reason I could discern.  I was never one to suck up, but somehow, likely because I had a lot to say, I sorted of drifted into the right people, in these unusual circumstances that is. Probably the only time I ever did. Picking out certain associates who had not been sighted in the communal showers, giving their private parts a boot polish, as in Nugget, and cheering while they took their showers and were rewarded by becoming an “in” person. I felt sorry for them of course and understood their shyness in not wanting to be nude without privacy, coming from all parts of Australia and homesick, but protecting my backside was paramount, ahead of worrying about someone spotting my old fellow. I said nothing, and more importantly I NEVER dropped the soap while showering. Not because someone might date me, so much as I dare not risk being seen as homosexual in any slight way. So stupid in retrospect. I had no real idea of what homosexual meant! It didn’t take much for the “in” crowd to turn. I didn’t take an  active part in the nuggeting, something to be thankful for. Eventually we got to the stage where I was one of only a half dozen who had not been “nuggeted” - the battle of wits to escape. They eventually caught up with me but were unsuccessful in their attempts, only after a very tough wrestle with a few of my so-called mates. I fought like a true Magpie. Week three was my turn on duty (for a week) in the Cookhouse - serving up my mates double and triple ice cream sweets, watching the soup in the huge soup vats get thicker every night; endless cleaning of all the galley utensils. It was a tough week workwise, but worth the effort in making the right friends; common sense. [Not necessarily the 'right' friends but beggars can't be choosers.] 


I quite like watching the Olympic games, particularly the swimming, but I draw the line at breaststroke. Name change?...Four federal Labor MPs have backed a royal commission into Australia’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, arguing the inquiry will provide vital lessons for the future. Good luck with this one...if they got Alistair Clarkson they can get anyone, scotty?...Morning radio, morning TV news, lunchtime news announcements, some packed with over-long, sleep-inducing monologues, evening news – COVID, COVID, COVID. Why watch Q+A? Ditto Insiders...Frydenberg's heavy boots into Melbourne, now into fluffy wooden socks?...Kevvy Rudd: Despite Abbott’s promise in 2013 of “no cuts to the ABC”, its budget has been slashed by about $800 million under the Liberals, who are once again stacking the board with their mates...Straight to the RSL Wednesday after COVID restrictions lifted, a beer from the tap. Wearing my trackies explained to a lady "Couldn't be bothered putting my trousers on." Lady replied "Then we wouldn't have recognised you."... "I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately it's the government." [Woody Allen]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.







 CAROLE We’ll be fine David. Vonny and I have it all under control. Really.

DAVID Merely trying to help Carole. You need to get it all together before day one. That includes proper accounting records, taxation requirements-

CAROLE Rob can take care of all that, surely?

DAVID You two are running the show Carole. 

CAROLE Just give us time David.

VONNY (ENTERING, WITH COFFEE) How’s young Beck doing?

DAVID The working girl.

VONNY You mind your own business. And while you’re at it keep out of ours.

DAVID I was talking about Becky. She’s got a job.

VONNY Who asked you? She should try something useful, like carpentry? David’s useless. Lot of money in carpentry. What do you think Carole?

CAROLE As long as she’s happy.

VONNY Growing fast. Is she studying?

CAROLE She’s fine Vonn.

VONNY What’s the job?

CAROLE It’s only part time. One day a week to start, for the TAB at the city racetracks.

VONNY She’s too young?

CAROLE They take them at 16. I’ll put her age up.

DAVID So you’re off the course, Becky’s at the track, and Rob’s the mug?

CAROLE Rob’s giving the betting up. He nominated the end of this month.


VONNY Mind your business. You see Rob keeps his word Carole.

CAROLE It’s not all gambling Vonn. Rob pays his share.

VONNY So he should girl. 

DAVID You keep out.

VONNY You be quiet!

DAVID I pay all our bills.

VONNY You wouldn’t be much use otherwise.

DAVID No darling.

VONNY Have you seen any of your money yet?

CAROLE He’s got it Vonn.

VONNY Let him show it to you. Why haven’t you got joint accounts?

CAROLE We have. But he has a separate punting account.

DAVID That’s a great idea.

VONNY You’re mad girl. 

CAROLE It’s only an interest Vonn.

VONNY What about your interest?

CAROLE As it happens we’re going to the bank Thursday. He’s promised me the $10,000. Then we’ll look at carpets.

VONNY He’s putting up the $10,000?

CAROLE He’s paying for the carpets and we’re borrowing the business money.

VONNY Hold him to it. Do not budge. I don’t want to interfere love but men are men. If David won all that money I’d be wanting to see the colour of it a lot sooner. 

DAVID Like the minute I open the front door.

VONNY What’s wrong with that?

DAVID Not a thing darling. 

VONNY How much has he got in this secret account?

DAVID Punting account.

CAROLE He hides that.

VONNY Find it. Have a look. It can’t be far.

CAROLE (LAUGHS) It’s fine Vonn. Really. I trust him.

VONNY I’m only thinking of you love. If he tries to put you off on Thursday you call me. You hear? You can’t trust a gambler.

CAROLE And you can’t force him to change either. Gently it goes Vonn.

VONNY It’s not my way love.

DAVID We know that.

CAROLE Drink David?

VONNY You’re changing the subject.

DAVID (EXITING) I’ll get it.

VONNY How much did he win, anyway?


CAROLE Enough for the carpets. 

VONNY You sure?

CAROLE (LAUGHS) Ask him yourself Vonn.

VONNY I might just do that.

DAVID (ENTERING) There’s 9 races at Werribee tomorrow.

VONNY That’s your third. How many are you having? 


RICHARD Hello darlings. Vonny. You look exquisite. And the lovely Carole. Beauty in full bloom. Greetings. And you too, old foxy.


DAVID Home from the battlefield.

VONNY Where have you two been?

RICHARD No worries gorgeous. The old sticky Ricky has been behaving, haven’t we lucky. Eh Rob? And Ricky brought home the bacon. For you darling. (FLOWERS-ROSES.)

CAROLE Thank you Rick. They’re lovely. 

VONNY You’re drunk.

RICHARD Point 049 Herr Vonn. But no panic. Rob was driving. (LAUGHS) Old Chatterbox.

CAROLE Sue didn’t arrive Rick.

RICHARD Typical.

CAROLE Have a good day love?

RICHARD We had an exciting day, didn’t we lucky?

ROBERT No damage.

RICHARD And,  for the lovely Veronica. Da dah. (PULLS OUT A BOTTLE OF MUSSELS.)

DAVID Mussels?

RICHARD The florist was out of snap dragons. 

VONNY You keep them Richard.

RICHARD Good for your figure Vonn. And other things.

ROBERT I’ll put these in the fridge. (BEER. BUT STAYS)

VONNY No wonder Sue wont talk to you.

DAVID Had a big day Rick?

RICHARD Skill Davo. Skill, arse, and a sure fire system. Legitimate non-taxable winnings. And instinct. Knowing when to stop. Hey Rob?

CAROLE You want something to eat?

RICHARD We ate darling. Fish and chips.

VONNY Give him some coffee.

RICHARD Dave’s the coffee man Vonn. He can’t hold his liquor. I brought him home, Carole. I looked after the old bastard.

DAVID How did Nick the Greek go? 

RICHARD I told you I won. (LAUGHS.) The single fronted in Brunswick looms. Or was it Yarraville? Maybe even Hawthorn now. What do you think Robbo?

ROBERT Just shut up Rick, for Chrissake. You’re full.

DAVID I meant Rob.


VONNY Did you win Rob?

RICHARD No telling tales Vonn. Not kosher. 

DAVID How was your day Rob?

ROBERT Pretty good. About even.

RICHARD Like the story of the bloke who went to the races, backed the first 6 winners, come the last he plonked it all, $25,000 big ones, on the favourite at even money. Gets done in a photo by a nostril. When he arrived home his wife asked him how he went. “I broke even” he said. (LAUGHS)

ROBERT Anything to eat?

CAROLE I thought you had fish and chips?

ROBERT Loud mouth had fish and chips.

CAROLE I can heat up some Irish stew if you like?

VONNY Let him get it himself. It’s nearly 10 oclock.

DAVID Twenty past nine actually.

ROBERT I’ll have a sandwich. (ON THE TABLE/SUPPER) Have something later.

CAROLE What about some bacon and eggs?

ROBERT I’m fine love.

CAROLE Sandwich Rick?

RICHARD You know what I want gorgeous.

VONNY He wants the mussels.

DAVID That’s my theory. 

CAROLE That’s about all he deserves.

DAVID What took you so long?

ROBERT Rick wanted to stop off for one and out the door. Bugger wouldn’t leave.

RICHARD Weak bastard. Stale bottle of piss.

ROBERT I didn’t feel like it.

RICHARD Not my fault.

DAVID What are you having Rob?

ROBERT I might try a whisky.

RICHARD And a beer for me Dave. One of your coldies you tight bastard. How many did you bring?

DAVID All talk and no action I’d say.

VONNY Time you caught a taxi home anyway.

RICHARD Piss off Vonny.

CAROLE Eh, eh. Steady Rick. Where do you think you are?

ROBERT Just settle Rick.

RICHARD Dave started it.

DAVID Don’t blame me.

VONNY Ring him a taxi David.

RICHARD Give me a bloody beer!

VONNY Get it yourself.

RICHARD I bloody will. (HE SITS.)

CAROLE You OK love?

ROBERT Long drive.

CAROLE Shall I heat up some stew?


RICHARD You’ll be sweet Rob.

ROBERT I’ll be sweet Rick. 

CAROLE Oh before I forget. Beck needs $150 for her weekend excursion. It has to be paid by tomorrow.


RICHARD Drop in the ocean Rob.

CAROLE I told her you’d give it to her in the morning.


RICHARD Drop in the bloody ocean.

ROBERT I’ll kick you out if you don’t shut up.

RICHARD Us professional punters.

DAVID So you’re pros now are you?

ROBERT Don’t be smart Dave.

RICHARD We don’t hire out lawnmowers Davo, at $27 a day. Six of the bastards and a secret receipt book.

DAVID All accounted for Rick.

RICHARD Arseholes. I’ll dob you in. Get them to do a desk audit.

DAVID Werribee tomorrow Rob?

ROBERT That’s right Dave. Not back till Monday.

VONNY You are going back to work then?


VONNY I see.

DAVID Still got your capital then?

ROBERT You have to ask, don’t you Dave.

RICHARD He’s loaded. 

ROBERT Get stuffed Rick.

RICHARD Same to you sonno. No wucken furries.

CAROLE Richard!


CAROLE That’s enough. 

RICHARD It’s a joke.

CAROLE A joke’s not a joke when it becomes offensive. If you can’t be nice go home.

RICHARD Put some music on. Dance Vonny darling?

VONNY You’ll fall over.

RICHARD Try me darling. 

ROBERT No music Rick. Just bloodywell behave will you or I will call a cab.

RICHARD Keep it up Robbo. Keep it up Popeye and we’ll see who comes out on top. Blow me down. Capital is all, son. Right? 

ROBERT Yeah. Yeah.

VONNY I think it’s time we were going David.

RICHARD Goodnight David. Make sure you take home any undrunk stubbies. Wouldn’t want to waste one.

DAVID We’ll be off then Carole.

RICHARD You are off Dave. 

CAROLE Shut up Richard. I mean it.

RICHARD Sorry gorgeous.

VONNY You’ll be sorry in the morning.

RICHARD Yes dear. (ROB HEADS FOR THE KITCHEN) What’s the matter Robbo? (HE BLOCKS ROB’S EXIT) Pissing off are we? Everyone’s pissing off. What’s wrong? Can’t you take a joke?

ROBERT Get out of the way.

RICHARD Show us your winnings Robbo. We’ll invest in lawnmowers.

ROBERT (PUSHING RICHARD ASIDE) Go jump in the Yarra, silly bastard.

RICHARD Hah. Can’t even get that right. It’s the lake Robbo. The Albert Park bloody Grand Prix lake. King Jeffrey. Remember? You voted for him. Give us a kiss. (RICHARD ATTEMPTS TO EMBRACE ROBERT) Don’t worry old fellow. You’ve still got your health. (LAUGHS LOUDLY.)

ROBERT (BREAKS AWAY) Piss off will you. Go on. Get out. Go home. Drive your fucking car and get booked.

RICHARD (SINGS) “Money, burns a hole in my pocket.” 

ROBERT What’s the strength of you anyway? Smart arsed bastard. And you Davo. You’re supposed to be my friend?

DAVID What did I do?

VONNY Come on David, we’re going home. Sorry Carole.

DAVID I didn’t do anything.

VONNY Leave it David.

CAROLE Take Richard with you Vonn.

VONNY No love. Not tonight. Call him a cab.

RICHARD What’s the hurry. Stay a while Vonn. Drive me home. Get us a beer Rob.

VONNY I’m not driving you home. You don’t deserve it.

RICHARD Rob. Beer!

ROBERT Get your own bloody beer. 

RICHARD I’m celebrating Robbo. Nick the Greek is celebrating. We won didn’t we? Didn’t we? C’mon. Turn the bloody music on.

VONNY We’re going home. (VONNY MOVES TO EXIT) I’ll call you in the morning Carole.

RICHARD I’m not stopping you. Got your stubbies Davo? Show us your winnings Robbo. Here, here’s mine. (PULLS OUT A WAD OF NOTES) Piece of bloody cake. One unit. Hah.

ROBERT I’ll call him a cab.

RICHARD Stay Vonn. C’mon. Rob’s going to be a sport. Robbo baby. Kiss me. 

ROBERT Get out of it. What’s wrong with you. Shit.

RICHARD I love you Popeye!

CAROLE I’m calling a cab Richard.

VONNY Go on love.

RICHARD Just as well it’s not for Rob. He’d be lucky to pay.

ROBERT Shut it Rick.

RICHARD Show us your winnings Popeye.

DAVID Take it easy Rick.


ROBERT Leave me alone will you, mad bastard.

RICHARD What did I do?

ROBERT You know what you bloodywell did. You’re sick you smug bastard.  Why are you glad when I lose? 

RICHARD We all love a winner Robbo. I’m celebrating.

ROBERT Bullshit. You’re stirring. What have I done? Eh? No wonder Sue pisses you off-you’re a bloody moron. Can’t even get it up.

RICHARD Keep it up Robbo.

ROBERT That’s more than you can do.

RICHARD That’s twice Popeye. At least I know how to win.

ROBERT Allright I lost. Are you happy? (TURNS ON DAVID) Are you happy Dave? Are you ecstatic you bastards? I lost. And don’t think you proved anything Dave?

DAVID Take it easy Rob-

ROBERT I bet to win Dave. OK? I bet to bloodywell win.

RICHARD Not today you didn’t.

ROBERT You, you bastard. Why can’t you just keep your motor mouth shut.

RICHARD You started it. I warned you.

ROBERT You’re like a bloody two year old. 

RICHARD It’s just a bit of fun. 

ROBERT At my expense. Great bloody friend you are. Full of fucking arse. Well you know what you can do? The pair of you. You know what you can bloodywell do. All of you. You can get fucked! Fuck off the lot of you. (HE STORMS OUT.)


RICHARD...I think he’s...upset.







A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜₯

Wednesday, 28th July, 2021. Green is good, Coles, Woolworths take your pick, the key word being 'sustainable'. Another nonsense. Reminds me of Ricky Ponting's face in every chemist shop recommending special vitamins, for men? Sadly thousands of men (and women) fell for it, but not so sad for our Rickey, who made a fortune. Ditto health food shops. The fascination of people chasing vitamins, feelgood pills. Our Prime Minister (‘‘I don’t hold a hose’’), bless him, said sorry. If this was a heartfelt sorry I'll go he? Better than nothing you say? No. Merely a response to the  latest voting trends. The sorry you say when you're not sorry. Another fascination; information. David Spears is what most might call handsome, therefore believable, yet Anthony (Albanese) could say much the same and somehow it doesn't quite stick, no disrespect intended re Albo's face, or indeed his unconvincing delivery of words, not to mention his (Labor's) dropping the negative gearing policy, crushing the first homebuyers opportunities. Then we add in our PM's direct line to Murdoch's media (obviously anti-Albo?) and out it comes, seemingly from reporters (prostitutes?) expunging Scotty's Claytons apology. A wicked wicked web. Add this to the sad political nonsense coming out of the NSW's premier while Victoria's long hard lockdown was happening, now NSW turn to get bitten on their sizeable bum, and Andrews calling for a 'ring of steel'. It's all pretty much obvious re NSW’s failings under Gladys Berejiklian, though surprisingly today's poll blames Scotty ahead of Gladys? Again the necessity for a much stated clear path to the vaccination rollout, surely heavily on our minds alongside (ahead?) of climate change? And the protesters for their rights, no masks, crowded together as one, individualism and their idea of freedom; ignore - Dickheads United. Is it worth complaining about these Aussie battlers protesting for freedom after just 4 weeks of lockdown? No! Dickheads. We wait, we hope, meantime, we go green - and gold? C'mon Aussie c'mon?


The Saturday Paper, Gadfly: "Speaking with Adelaide’s FIVEaa radio the prime minister said: “Right now, under no plan was there any plan that said we’d be at 65-70 per cent vaccination in this country. Under no plan.” Because repeating the words “no plan” several times is surely the best way to instil confidence in the country’s leadership. There was, however, a plan to have four million vaccinations by late March, which Morrison announced on January 25. Greg Hunt doubled down a few days after that, and said the plan was to have 20 million adults vaccinated by the end of October. All of which means the plan might well actually have required 65-70 per cent vaccination by mid-July, except we now know there was “no plan” and more of a vague intention. Perhaps even an unsubstantiated rumour. The PM continued deflecting responsibility when speaking with ABC Adelaide. It was unfair that Australia’s vaccine rollout was being criticised but not New Zealand’s, said the prime minister who once told protesters to be grateful they weren’t being shot at, like in other countries. Apparently, his entire approach to governance is pointing out it could always be worse – and then proving that true." Editorial: "As you read through the latest intergenerational report, the section on climate change stands out for the simple reason that it contains no projections. The numbers exist, just as they do for population growth and productivity, but they are not included. The Saturday Paper understands Treasury was pressured by the Morrison government to leave them out." [So much for our (non?) independent public service?]


Newspoll is the poll all politicians take particular note of, so the six-point lead recorded for Labor – 53-47, two-party preferred – is a shattering result. It breaks the run of lineball findings over the past few months, even though they mostly had Labor just ahead. Of course, the next poll will show if this is an outlier or the beginning of an entrenched rejection of this government...Former National Disability Insurance Agency board member John Walsh told a conference convened by Disability Services Consulting yesterday he didn’t think the NDIS had ever been implemented as envisaged. ‘‘I just look at it as a lost opportunity,’’ he said. ‘‘I can’t begin to say how angry I am about the way the Australian governments collectively have let down people with disabilities.’’ ['Collectively" can be read whichever way you're rusted on.]


History: 1977, the opportunity to have my first play produced at La Mama. No Worries, (later re-written as Lucky Last) which was part of a double bill with the most excellent two-hander Norm and Ahmed, by Alex Buzo, directed by Mark Callan. Two plays, two parts, vastly different roles. We performed Norm and Ahmed in the carpark adjoining the theatre in Faraday Street after an inside performance of No Worries. There was a pub across the road and every performance around 10.15 out poured the drunks, headlights shinning on the carpark, horns blasting, and some drunk gatecrashers. One such drunk journeyed onto the stage during one performance after I had hit Ahmed and he lay on the ground. Lionel Murphy, a great Labor man, was in the audience. The drunk then offered me a swig of his whisky, assuming I was one of ‘his mob’, and started a conversation rubbishing dark skinned foreigners, which he took Ahmed (Bruce Kerr) to be. Bruce was long ago from England. I managed to talk him away after around 4 tense minutes, adopting yet another role on the spot, faking a swig of his whisky, the real difficulty being to remember which part of the play we were at when the yobbo intervened. Mark was one tough director, insisting I play the part “his way”. We had one or two screaming matches but Mark won out in the end. I disagreed with his interpretation in spite of good reviews. One of the toughest jobs in acting is coming to terms with the director’s point of view if you see the role differently. A minefield balancing act. No Worries went well, though obviously not in the same class as Norm and Ahmed. Directed by Bruce Kerr the cast included Jack Mobbs, Sue Jones, Liddy Clark, Richard Dawson and (daughter) Jennifer Ellen.


From 'Letters': Recently, our school staff was updated on the code of conduct for Victorian teachers. Among the requirements for teachers is that we are paragons of virtue in the community, both in our personal and professional lives? On and on they complain, the kiddies missing school, the stress of it all. The nonsense of it all. In my day (etc world war 2) rarely a second thought, never forgetting the advantages of music, sport and social interaction at school. kids are resilient....The NSW Mockdown?...Why couldn't my kids be in the olympics. It seems their parents cop free track suits. Bugger...A former Supreme Court judge calls it corruption. The auditor-general calls it unashamedly targeting Liberal seats (‘‘How the Coalition’s car park promises went off the rails’’). I call it secret trials against whistleblowers, increasing surveillance of citizens. How about you?.....Billy Boy Shorten on Insiders ABC last Sunday, a cut above the rest, a star...Sport, the gruelling Tour de France on SBS run and won, to the Tokyo olympics. The necessity for diversions to offset COVID squabbling, Collingwood losses and our government devoid of the necessity for The Arts. One (freezing) day at a time...Is there anyone out there who likes Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates?...Our wonderful federal government contributes $7 million to the Robert Menzies Institute (Peta Credlin, not forgetting Georgina Downer?) at the University of Melbourne?...Yes, obviously, Brisbane did a Bradbury...It might be an idea to think about the cost of NOT locking down?...Direct from the South Australian Health Minister to her husband "Relax. This is the kind of day when you can tidy up your socks drawer."?...'Like a beast in a pen I'm cut off, From the friends, freedom, the sun, But the hunters are gaining ground, I’ve nowhere else to run' [Boris Pasternak]...Receiving the second AstraZeneca vaccine, today. Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.








CAROLE (ENTERING) Rob, you’ll have to speak to Becky. She was late for her interview. How will that look? Her room’s like a tip. She spends more time in front of the mirror than I do. The bathroom’s a mess. Then she expected me to drive her to the station?

ROBERT Can’t she walk? I was hoping to take the car.

CAROLE I’ve already driven her. You can’t have the car anyway, I’ve got shopping to do. 

ROBERT Yes love.



CAROLE I’m talking to you.

ROBERT What do you want?

CAROLE I was talking about Becky. 

ROBERT She’s in the bathroom.

CAROLE What is more important? Becky or that silly form guide?

ROBERT Sorry love. OK, I’m listening.

CAROLE Oh forget it. What’s the point.

ROBERT I’m listening love. Really. I’m all ears.

CAROLE What did they say at work?

ROBERT I’ve got leave due, what could they say? Wouldn’t notice anyway. Too busy robbing people.

CAROLE Do you think it was wise. They’re putting people off all the time.

ROBERT Forget work love. I don’t like it.

CAROLE Do you like eating?

ROBERT When I’m not there I like to forget it ever happened.

CAROLE What’s wrong?

ROBERT It’s all this enterprise bargaining bullshit. Bloody Unions.

CAROLE What are they doing?

ROBERT Selling us up the river. We’re being  screwed by the bosses after the Unions allegedly try to get the best for us. Wish they’d offer me a package.

CAROLE Then you’d be out of a job.

ROBERT Then I’d have capital. 

CAROLE Don’t be ridiculous. How long would that last? 

ROBERT Everyone wants to change you. If it’s not the bosses it’s the Unions. The bosses want more profits, the Unions want more power, and I’m the meat in the sandwich. 

CAROLE You can’t win Rob.

ROBERT Why not? People do. Lots of people get pleasure from their jobs.


ROBERT I don’t know. Professional punters. Bookmakers. Stockbrokers.

CAROLE Politicians?  

ROBERT A man can dream can’t he? 

CAROLE Doesn’t pay the bills. Which reminds me, where’s your credit card bill?

ROBERT Sometimes they’re late.

CAROLE Is it serious?

ROBERT Is what serious?

CAROLE Your job of course. 

ROBERT You should know. You work for the TAB. Making profits and cutting staff, full stop. Same bloody thing. We’re all just numbers.

CAROLE Could they put you off?

ROBERT Nah. Worse luck.

CAROLE Why do you talk that way? 

ROBERT What’s wrong with chasing a bit of pleasure. I’m 39 for chrissake.

CAROLE I wish you wouldn’t talk like that.

ROBERT What’s the difference? Ambition and gambling. Impossible to get the final prize. What do they reckon? The joy is in the journey? I’ll take the bloody journey.

CAROLE When does this journey end?

ROBERT End of this month. I promise.

CAROLE How much are you taking with you today?

ROBERT A hundred. Got to go to the bank.

CAROLE Don’t take too much.

ROBERT You’re doing it too. Wanting to change me. I don’t try to change you.

CAROLE That’s what you’re doing now.

ROBERT It’s just a couple of days off work.

CAROLE You want me to spend according to your ideas.

ROBERT Look love, one of the joys of gambling is pleasure. Surely there’s nothing wrong with doing what you love. I’m betting with their money.

CAROLE It’s our money now.

ROBERT Of course. But I know what I’m doing. See us on a Friday night? We’re on a high. It’s exciting. That’s our pleasure. Us against them. Saturday morning in the Pub. A few beers. Exchanges of opinions. Skill. Then all day at the races. Pleasure darling. You can’t beat pleasure. Our raison d’etre.

CAROLE  It’s not Saturday today.

ROBERT It’s not my darling. That’s the thing nowadays. It’s on every day of the week. Well almost. I only bet on the gallops.

CAROLE You didn’t the other night.

ROBERT A one-off love. Information. That’s the only time you bet on trots or dogs. What is wrong with chasing a bit of pleasure in life? I have no intention of putting anyone at risk. Particularly you and Becky.

CAROLE What if you lose?

ROBERT I wont love. It’s for us.  And even if I do it’s a curve. A slight curve. The trick is to see that the ups outweigh the downs.

CAROLE You’d like to do this full time?

ROBERT I reckon I could make a good living out of it.

CAROLE I don’t know anyone who does.

ROBERT They’re about. Professional punters. Low key. They’re in the betting ring all the time. You just have to know how to spot them.

CAROLE My idea of pleasure is paying the bills and holidays.

ROBERT I’m not going to do it. I’m just saying that’s what I’d love to do. Dreams love.

CAROLE It’s just that-

ROBERT All is under control darling. End of the month. Now let me study.

CAROLE Excuse me for talking.

ROBERT I didn’t mean that. Shit. Come on love. Be fair. What is it now?

CAROLE You think Becky should be looking for work?

ROBERT It’s only part time. A few dollars in her pocket. Good experience.

CAROLE I suppose.

ROBERT Is that it?

CAROLE No that’s not it. You know that money you promised? I could take the day off tomorrow?

ROBERT Not tomorrow darling, it’s Werribee. I always win at Werribee.

CAROLE What about the carpet?

ROBERT I’m not going to the races every day. Just today and tomorrow.

CAROLE Thursday then?

ROBERT Thursday’s great. We’ll go for lunch, then shop.

CAROLE And what about our business?

ROBERT What about it?

CAROLE Vonny’s got her money.

ROBERT Yeah. $10,000. I promised didn’t I?

CAROLE You haven’t mentioned it in over a week?

ROBERT Don’t let Vonny boss you about love.

CAROLE She’s my friend. You did promise Rob.

ROBERT Okay, I’ve been on other things, but it’s all in hand. 

CAROLE So you keep saying.

ROBERT We will go to the bank on Thursday morning. I will give you a bank cheque. Lunch.Then we will go looking for a nice carpet. 

CAROLE Thursday?

ROBERT Absolutely.

CAROLE Promise?

ROBERT Cross my heart.

CAROLE I saw some lovely outdoor furniture at Barbecues Galore.

ROBERT (LAUGHS) Do we need outdoor furniture?

CAROLE They’re on special.

ROBERT I didn’t win Powerball darling.

CAROLE I’ll pay half.

ROBERT The carpet will cost $4000.

CAROLE Ricky said you won over $15,000.

ROBERT He’s stirring. Haven’t you woke up? That’s his form. Why must you bite? 

CAROLE I’m not biting. I want to know where we stand. 

ROBERT I’m up for $14,000 and you’re dropping two days wages. I need the capital love. That’s how the bastards get you

CAROLE How much did you win?

ROBERT Certainly not $15,000. Shit.

CAROLE How much then?

ROBERT Why is everyone so interested in how much I won?

CAROLE I care about us. And our mortgage, and Becky-

ROBERT And new carpets.

CAROLE Or polished boards, I don’t care. It’s a disgrace. We’re earning good money. Where does it go?

ROBERT What are you talking about?

CAROLE I’m talking about you winning all that money and not talking about it.

ROBERT I care about us.

CAROLE It doesn’t seem like it.

ROBERT That’s not fair.

CAROLE I’ve hardly seen you the past week. You haven’t been near me in bed.

ROBERT Neither have you.

CAROLE No, no, no. Don’t try that. It’s not up to me.

ROBERT (LAUGHS) Why not? Sorry love. My mind’s been on other things.

CAROLE How much did you win? 

ROBERT I don’t know. Just under $5000 I think. 

CAROLE You think?

ROBERT I know. Roughly. About, oh... $4800.

CAROLE How much have you got left?

ROBERT Don’t you trust me?

CAROLE Don’t you trust me?

ROBERT I’ve got it all love. I’m still about even.  

CAROLE You’re always about even. Meanwhile how much do you owe on your credit card?

ROBERT I think I paid the credit card.


ROBERT Last week some time. I don’t know.

CAROLE That’s something then.

ROBERT Settle love. All is well. I promise.

CAROLE I just thought with all the work you put into that garden some class furniture would set it off.

ROBERT Fine. Classy furniture. Whatever. See how I go today. I reckon I’ve got that feeling again.

CAROLE You promise?

ROBERT I promise. 

CAROLE And you’ve still got all of it?

ROBERT Every cent.

CAROLE You were very quiet on Saturday.

ROBERT I lost a little Saturday. True. Just marginal stuff. No damage. I was bloody stiff, I’ll tell you that.

CAROLE Thursday then?

ROBERT Hey, I’m not going anywhere.

CAROLE Sometimes I wonder.

ROBERT Time I was off.

CAROLE You can have the car.

ROBERT No. Ricky’s coming so he can give me a lift for a change. Bloody stirrer.

CAROLE Both off on the same day?

ROBERT Different Sections darling. They wouldn’t twig.

CAROLE (TELEPHONE RINGS.) David and Vonny are coming over tonight.

ROBERT Yeah? Why?

CAROLE Gift shop discussions.

ROBERT Good. Good. (TALKS) Helloo. Rick. Hey listen mate, your car allright?  Carole’s down for shopping. Hah. Hang the expense eh. On my way. Have to stop at the bank for a refill. (PAUSE) Sure. No worries. Bye. (HANGS UP.) We wont be back before 7. I said it was OK for Sue to meet Rick here.

CAROLE That’s fine.

ROBERT Well, up and at ‘em. Lucky tie. See you tonight. We’ll talk gift shop.

CAROLE Good luck.

ROBERT Skill darling. Just follow the money. Can’t go wrong.

CAROLE So you keep saying.

ROBERT You my darling, are gorgeous. I love you.








A Grain of Salt.😎

Thursday, 22nd July, 2021. PM Morrison: “The pandemic continues to evolve, it continues to set its own rules”. To many, what it sounded like was, “having got lucky early on, but having failed most tests since then, the virus is still in charge and not me”. I can recall reading The Herald evenings, The Sun Mornings, hardly any [a sprinkle?] of brainwashing. Not that I could tell till my early teens, but the old man helped. Were he still with us he would likely ban today's newspapers, a form of communism he would have opined. It’s not simply the vaccination rollout, indeed the failure thereof, but sadly backed by a PM who has failed to inspire us by bringing us together as a whole, consistently marked by political favouritism. So sad, obvious togetherness abandoned to our detriment. We have now found ourselves unvaccinated and vulnerable, facing a variant of COVID twice as transmissible, able to outpace even a ‘‘gold standard’’ contract tracing system. The vaccine rollout continues, fellow snails. A rollout, at 14%? That's a disgrace. And the lockdowns, primarily the scramble for many to whinge for money. And so it goes, ever onwards, to...


The Chaser, edited. "As a Sydneysider, it's depressing to watch Victoria go into another lockdown. It's madness that the Victorian government didn't wait until the virus was raging out of control across several suburbs before locking down. Daniel Andrews is going to look like an absolute fool when Victoria emerges out of lockdown after only a week or two. Here in NSW, we waited until it was absolutely certain that our lockdown would drag on for months before we went there. Why lockdown if you're intending to reverse course just days later? Businesses need certainty, and by letting the virus take hold, the NSW government ensured that businesses have the certainty that its lockdown will go on for months. In Victoria, by contrast, businesses have no such certainty. It's madness that if you live in Victoria right now, you can't walk into a Louis Vuitton shop and buy a handbag. The Victorian government's heavy-handed meddling in the definition of what constitutes "essential" services, and "non-essential" services, makes a whole lot of arbitrary judgements about what people need in life. People who are negatively gearing their tenth property in the coming days will be denied their right to access high quality French fashion ware until after the lockdown. If access to French fashion ware is not "essential" then frankly, I don't know what is! Most importantly, what the hell is going on with Victoria's vaccination rates?! I mean, barely 10% of the population are fully vaccinated. The Victorian Government have shown a gross level of responsibility letting the Federal Government manage that process.  To those in lockdown in Melbourne, just remember -- you're doing it all wrong." [Clever buggers.]


You could be standing on the edge of a clifftop, a 60 metre drop to raging seas, and rocks, and you can feel the earth beginning to rumble under your feet, but at that particular moment you think to yourself "I've done nothing wrong, so I'm sweet, as a bug in a rug"? The old 'if you've got nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about'. You do you know! ASIO intercepted an average of 85 phones a year from 1974 to 1983. ASIO’s figures are secret for 2019-20, but likely to be in the thousands. Federal and state police and similar bodies received 3677 intercept warrants in that time. Rules forcing phone companies to retain their customers’ metadata began in 2006. Police and other authorities accessed this “digital fingerprint” information without warrants on 344,168 occasions in 2019-20. Today, there are at least 83 terrorism laws, many containing harsh new offences and powers. Ignoring habeas corpus, the Howard government introduced a law in 2003 allowing ASIO to detain and compulsorily question people for a week. They didn’t need to be suspected of any crime, but might have information about terrorism. Refusal to answer incurred a five-year jail sentence. In 2005, the Australian Federal Police was empowered to take people into “preventative detention” for up to two weeks and impose a form of house arrest, called a “control order”, for up to 12 months without court approval. The states have since made greater use of “preventative detention” for longer periods. Authoritarian changes gathered pace after parliamentarians acquiesced in the Australian Federal Police’s raid on Parliament House in 2016. They accessed IT systems and seized thousands of non-classified documents to search for the source of leaks to a Labor opposition frontbencher. The leaks revealed problems with rising costs and delays in the national broadband network – information that should have been public. In an earlier era, ASIO and the AFP would never tap phones in Parliament House, let alone raid an institution at the pinnacle of Australia’s democratic system. The parliament’s failure to find the AFP in contempt only emboldened the police. Secret trials are supposed to be a hallmark of authoritarian governments, not liberal democracies. But in 2018 then Coalition attorney-general Christian Porter authorised charging a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer, known only as Witness K, and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery, with allegedly conspiring to communicate secret information to Timor-Leste’s government. The substantive issues in their case have been heard in secret. The case involves the honourable role of the defendants in challenging the misuse of ASIS to bug Dili’s cabinet office in 2004 to give a multinational petroleum company, Woodside, an unfair share of Timor-Leste’s natural resources. Witness K, who was under tremendous stress, pleaded guilty. He received a three-month suspended sentence in the ACT Magistrates Court on June 18. Collaery is pleading not guilty. It appears the substance of his trial will be heard in secret. Morrison’s latest proposed law – the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill – is extraordinarily intrusive. It was introduced last December and the government gave the example of how it would help disrupt paedophilia and terrorism. The Law Council of Australia pointed out it covers any other federal crime with a potential sentence of three or more years. Magistrates don’t even impose a jail sentence for some minor crimes in this category. If passed, the bill will allow the AFP and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to “disrupt” even minor crime by covertly destroying computers and other systems in what is known as an “offensive cyber” operation. Despite these immense powers, the AFP and the ACIC will be allowed to issue their own warrants. A report for the government on Australia’s national security laws, written by former ASIO head Dennis Richardson, found there was no need for additional powers such as “data disruption”. The government bluntly rejected Richardson’s advice, although he had also headed the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments. He said, “All agencies, including the AFP, can and do make mistakes and this would be no exception”. [From The Saturday Paper, edited. Sometimes called 'Keeping out the light' as in not involving the Australian public as to the idiocy (insanity?) of their plans. Secrecy, 1984 to 2021 and beyond. We trust them half as far as I could throw them.]


Jon Faine, The Age, edited: The Prime Minister has relished the opportunity to dominate the news cycle, and his ease behind a microphone is still his greatest asset. His is a marketing mind, and his capacity to reduce a complex issue to a core message is without peer in this parliament. But he cannot resist the temptation to use 200 words when 20 would suffice. [Eddie McGuire?] He confuses quantity with quality. The word-soup can be confusing and betrays any clarity of thinking. It has not helped that he has to constantly change the substance of his message. The planned November 2021 election has had to be abandoned, replaced with Plan B that depends on supply of vaccines and their smooth distribution through GPs and pharmacies in time for an election around Easter 2022. He is speaking directly to the journalists in the room, playing to his personal relationships with them while forgetting millions are also watching. We are puzzled by and not sharing that intimacy. It detracts from his gravitas. Actors are taught to be ‘‘in the moment’’ which is an arty way of saying ignore what is going on all around you and concentrate intensely on what you are doing until you are deeply into it. The PM is not ‘‘in the moment’’. His mind is racing to other things. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been the Nicole Kidman of the Australian political stage. Many seem to forget the past dud performances, forgive the personal misstep and allow the reset button to be hit, multiple times. Women in politics are always treated differently as the excellent ABC TV series Ms Represented is explaining. Under pressure she maintains a calm demeanour, her voice does not wobble and betray her, she does not get flustered. But her refusal to clarify and define ‘‘essential’’ is one of the most absurd and costly political blunders we have seen. Ask John Hewson how one error can define your career. A rejuvenated state opposition have started campaigning already for March 2023. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg grabbed the spotlight when the employment figures were announced. He usually approaches microphones and cameras with a slow and deliberate delivery of what are invariably complex numbers. One anecdote is worth a thousand statistics. His ill-disciplined sledge at the Victorian Premier for ‘‘whingeing’’ may cost him dearly when the voters in Kooyong decide whether or not to extend his tenure. His slim 6500-vote majority could evaporate if he persists in prioritising the Liberal Party internal games over the external public debate. His rivalry with Peter Dutton as ‘heir apparent’ ought never over-ride his need to be seen to be fully committed to the wellbeing of the voters who put him in the parliament. Premier Dan Andrews has reinjected himself into the public sphere and it is as if he was never away. His tightrope act of pretending not to criticise either the PM or the NSW Premier whilst inferring exactly that criticism is remarkable. His sledge on Thursday that ‘‘this is Victoria, I’m not walking away’’ was akin to a footy backhander behind the play. Sincerity requires matching the words to the actions; nuance depends on the eyes, the mouth, the stance and the words all working together. John Howard’s famous edict ‘‘you cannot fatten a pig on market day’’ instructs that the relationships with the voters being forged now and under pressure will endure until the next state and federal elections. [Faine the drama critic? Still, pretty much spot on.]


Carparks and promises: PM Morrison announced plans for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission in December 2018 but the plan stalled during 2019 and was not revived until December 2020, when the government released the draft bill and asked for views? The Auditor-General’s Office (with decreased funding via our government) revealed a government-compiled list of the 20 most marginal seats ahead of the 2019 election, formed as the basis for the program, which so far has delivered just two completed car parks. More interesting is the placement of this news item in our friendly Melbourne Age, page 5 bottom half, a dog story and picture top half. Also no mention of the cost; many millions. [Note: The Urban Congestion Fund $660 million, is a slush fund by and large, for Liberal candidates.]


The Olympic Games to Brisbane, another reason to stay away, assuming I'm still here...The latest voting trend from a survey of 1607 voters; yet to be convinced?...Maybe we could encourage our PM & deputy PM to follow the trend; a joyride into space?...Nathan Buckley's expertise in epidemiology, Twitter, displays the same reasoning with his sacking of Adam Treloer and Jaidyn Stephenson...An opinion is a nothing in reality. I may well say Michael O’Brien is a dickhead but is he? Evidence, other than his political background, zilch....Nothing against lockdowns, apart from the 5 kilometre rule; ridiculous...I cannot come to terms with people who practice class distinction, although I'm told (advised?) I practice it myself, unknowingly. Maybe it's all too hard for me? Intellectual distinction I can handle. Watching Birth of  Empire. The East India Company on SBS, British imperialism, was hard going. Moral, racial and cultural superiority? Ignorant and stupid yes, more how people can convince themselves with good reasons (?) to make money, suck money from poorer people and double the deed by judging the suckers as inferior beings. I'm much the same about religion; so far...Like him or otherwise Barnaby Joyce was good stuff on Insiders ABC last Sunday. True, his weird logic on a menu for climate change was stupid, nevertheless  entertaining. We all need a laugh, wherever it pops up...There's an updated edition of my number 1 son's book 'Mental' in company with the fabulous Catherine Deveny. Buy it; recommended...Is renewing Powerball a necessity during lockdown?... Happy 85th birthday to Graham Campbell, former Fitzroy VFL champion and best mate of a lifetime..."Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?" [Milton]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.




ROBERT (TELEPHONE) Yeah yeah yeah. It was lovely. Beautiful. But I can't talk now. I'm working. How did you get this bloody number anyway? Did I? OK. OK. Yes, At the club, yes, tonight, after 9. I've got to go. Flat out. What? No, tell the girl at the desk. She'll call me and I'll get someone to take you through to the members area. And wear a dress. What? Yes. A long dress. Yeah, you too. Bye. (HANGS UP) Shit.


ROBERT (TELEPHONE, OTHER PHONE) Yeah? No, no, no. No. Not yet. Just the four grand a win, two a place. Raider. Right, in the third at Randwick. I’ll get back to you on Brisbane. Let me know if you hear anything. You're on 10% as always. Bugger it, make it 15%. For this day only, I’m feeling generous. Stay calm Charlie. (LAUGHS. HANGS UP.) Silly old bastard. (CALLS) Dave, get here.


CAROLE (ENTERS) Robert pet, I need money. I forgot to go to the bank.

ROBERT I’m busy darling. You know the rules. Not when I’m working.

CAROLE You’ve been working all morning petal.

ROBERT No darling. I was up at 6. A 5k run, into the surf, catch a few waves, pool swim, bacon and eggs on the balcony. All before you saw the light of day. A healthy body, a healthy mind. Check out the tummy. (CALLS) Dave!

DAVID (OFF) Coming boss.

CAROLE My god you’re sexy, and so fit.

ROBERT Absolutely. Healthy body, alert mind.

CAROLE We’re having brunch at Jupiters.

ROBERT Fine, fine. Back to work darling.

CAROLE Money money, darling.

ROBERT What? Oh. Take credit cards, there’s a stack of them there. (COMPUTER) Shit. That’s come in. (CALLS) Davo. Get Harry on line two. There’s a real shortener in Melbourne. The pros down there must be on to something. Dave!

DAVID (OFF) With you boss.

CAROLE I can’t buy a drink with a credit card sweetie.

ROBERT They’re about to jump. It’s still big value the place in a big pool. See if you can manage $5000. Number 8.

DAVID (OFF) Right boss.


ROBERT Draw out some cash darling. That’s what it’s there for. You know the pin number. Triple33. (CALLS) Did you get set Dave?

DAVID (CALLS)  He’s taken it boss.

ROBERT (CALLS) Where’s Vonny got to.

VONNY (CALLS) Coming Robert. 

ROBERT Oh love. Do something about this carpet will you? Look at it?

CAROLE It’s only 3 months old.

ROBERT See that smudge? Bloody red wine. Doesn’t look good. They’re doing an article on me for Good Weekend. They’ll want pictures.

CAROLE You want a new one?

ROBERT Whatever love. Just fix it. Not good for the image. (TELEPHONE RINGS) I’m busy now love. Hello. No, no. It’s drifting. They’re playing funny buggers. We’ll let it run against us. Thanks John. (HANGS UP)

CAROLE Becky will want  money.

ROBERT She’s too young.

CAROLE She went last week.

ROBERT Give her $50.

CAROLE $50 wont last long. Be fair honeybunch.

ROBERT (RACE BROADCAST ON) Dave, tape it will you? 

DAVID (ENTERS) Already doing it boss.

ROBERT Give Becky two hundred from petty cash Dave. Call it stationery. Get the cleaner to sign the receipt. That dress she had on was a shade revealing.


CAROLE She says it’s the only one she’s got.

ROBERT (LAUGHS) Go buy half a dozen longer ones.

CAROLE She wont wear them.

ROBERT Buy two anyway. 

CAROLE Thank you darling. (KISSES HIM)

ROBERT Yeah, yeah. Whose car are you driving?

CAROLE Your Merc. 

ROBERT What’s wrong with yours? 

CAROLE You’ve still got the Porche.

ROBERT (KISSES HIM) Oh right, right. Well, be careful. 

CAROLE You are the sweetest, most generous man on earth. Will they be taking our pictures.

ROBERT I don’t know. Probably. Now go, go ,go. (CAROLE EXITING.)


CAROLE Thank you David. Byee.

DAVID Very sexy Carole. (CAROLE EXITS) You’re a lucky man boss.

ROBERT (BROADCAST/NUMBER 8 WINS.) Bastard. Should have had a win on it. What price the place Dave?

DAVID Showing $2.70 when they jumped. Finished at $2.45.

ROBERT Seven grand. Better than nothing. 

VONNY (ENTERING) Greek salad, cold meats. Provolone cheese Rob?

DAVID And camembert.

VONNY You get your own.

ROBERT I’d like a feed around 2 oclock Vonn. You know the score. (VONNY EXITS) And where the fuck is Rick?

DAVID He’s at the track boss.

ROBERT I know he’s at the bloody track. He hasn’t phoned in. I want to know what price he got. I think he might be trying a shifty.

DAVID Not Ricky boss.

DAVID Yes Ricky Dave. Give him a call. Double check with the bookie. I smell funny buggers.

DAVID Rick’s OK boss.

ROBERT I’ll do the thinking Dave.

DAVID Did you give that other matter any thought boss?

ROBERT What other matter? 

DAVID The ten grand?

ROBERT Dave mate. Don’t expect me to play Santa Claus. I’m not your banker. I tell you what to back, you take no notice. I can’t do anymore. Go borrow it from the bank and I’ll guarantee you. But no more betting mate. You’re a babe in the woods. 

DAVID Thanks Rob.

ROBERT No problemo. And keep an eye on Rick. He hasn’t had a win in weeks. I can’t be the Bank of England. (PHONE RINGS) Yes. Yes James? No. How much? $1.55. Allright. Give me 5000. Bye. (HANGS UP) Stockbroker. Here, free lunch voucher someone sent me. Good pub they say. Take Vonny. It’s for two. They’ll probably give you a free bottle of vino if you mention my name. 

DAVID You’re a marvel boss. Thanks. Vonn will appreciate this. (EXITS.)

ROBERT (LEANS BACK. TAKES IN THE JOY OF HIS LIFESTYLE. SIGHS. PICKS UP THE TELEPHONE, PRESSES A BUTTON.) Hey Alf, Rob here, what’s the upgrade on the state of the track down there in occasionally sunny Melbourne? (LAUGHS).






A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜‹

Friday 16th July, 2021. John Denver "Some days are Diamonds" not in July; "Some days are Stone." The football  experts (?) marvel at the upsets, ignoring the upsets at this time of year, every year. Our Prime Minister reminds us we are Australians, consistently contradicting his verbal nonsense with his representation of everything New South Wales, and yet, suddenly, gone softer, perhaps the penny has dropped following the Victorian lockdown via Sydenee? His bagmen/hitmen (assistants in military or police contexts) Josh Frydenburg, albeit a Toorak resident, and arguably the greater twister of truth in financial matters, and our own Greg Hunt, previously flying but now a shadow of his former glory, sucked into the Crying/Lying Game. However, sadly, in spite of the obvious staring us in the face, the matter of the Opposition, led by our fearless Anthony Albanese, a long way short of our previous man, Billy Shorten? Winter in July. A dry July? Not all bad. Our wonderful government, state or federal I've forgotten, likely state, sent a cheque for $250 to assist this old codger with electricity and other bills, obviously immediately converted in favour of 160 gold standard cigarettes? Our Scotty conned Malcolm Turnbull, no disrespect to malice, who tended (still does) to walk in his own shadow, albeit with good intentions. Scotty lost me when he announced an investigation into the cause of COVID ahead of the world. A bully identikit. Former federal MP Julia Banks reveals her experience of harassment and bullying within the Liberal Party and Parliament, saying she had to call Mr Morrison because his ‘‘bully boys’’ were trying to intimidate her. History now, but evidence for mine. As for COVID and the daily hourly update, I steer well clear and wash my hands. Even so...


The Age. Jon Faine, edited: Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt turning to a man in uniform undermines the credibility of the nation’s Chief Medical Officer and other experts. The inference is that medicos are not able to cope without external support; that doctors and scientist – whose training is to keep people alive – need help from people who are trained to kill. Authority does not come from wearing a uniform – it comes from doing a good job. Coopting the general is a political move to make it look as if something is happening when very little is happening. The nightly news is filled with footage of people in impressive looking uniforms sitting around tables seeming to be busy. In NSW, Premier Berejiklian is belatedly realising that the virus does not listen to her. Nor do large parts of the population of greater Sydney. Why would they? She has consistently made basic errors and refused to either admit when she has been wrong or learnt from other states’ mistakes. This a Teflon coated Premier who enjoys protected status from the PM, the shock-jocks and the usually rabid local Murdoch tabloid media. And while we are looking at the public role played by people in uniform, that recent national, uplifting message of community support from the Governor-General, David Hurley, wasn’t that wonderful. You didn’t see it? No, neither did I. [I said this 2 weeks ago, but nice to see our Jon still in there with feeling.]


I have hundreds of friends on Facebook, mostly known, some unknown. I tend to accept most friend requests, particularly from females. One never knows at my age, hope springing forth eternally? I do not message people but always answer. This results in my answering regular messages, for a better friendship, money (?), who knows, and with my free time, who cares? My initial response is to tell the sender I'm 85. "You don't look 85?" is common. I say I know for a fact my age is spot on because on March 22nd 1936 I was there in person. Occasionally, if I know someone over a period and convinced as to their plight I'll send a small amount of cash via cash transfer. If anyone says "Age doesn't matter" I'm immediately suspicious, but let it ride on the basis of no proof. Obviously if said proof arises, particularly in a shortish time, I ever so nicely block them. My kids think I'm nuts. Fair enough. But hey, I can't spend all day reading that dreadful Age newspaper, gardening but a memory, likewise (almost) walking. I read at bedtime and I'm not one for watching television during daylight hours. The instant opinion makers, often referred to as dickheads, would jump to the accusation of stalking. Not so. There's a film script there somewhere, or a stage play. Alas, it would take 6 months to write, and I can't spare it at this stage. A Crying Game/Shame? Who knows, who cares? Not I Monsieur. Life is a cabaret. Never a pedant. The fascination of the world's most difficult enigma; human nature. I love it. 


Twenty years as a public servant, only ever saw one play, The Pyjama Game, 1950's, other than Uncle Joff's variety shows, Plaza Northcote? Why theatre? Chris, a workmate, suggested we attend evening classes at the William Bates Academy of Acting, circa 1970. I wasn’t keen. What influenced me was the vacuum at that particular time after 3 years of accountancy classes; time on my hands, a need for an epiphany? Perhaps a more valid reason was after the first 6 months in the majority of public service jobs most of it (95%) becomes repetitive, boring almost. Chris did well at William Bates, but it wasn’t for me. I saw one of their plays and thought it was dreadful, similar to the melodramas of the 19th century I imagined, boring, mannered, written and directed by William Bates, and seemingly everyone (except me) thoroughly enthused. I packed it in. Months later Chris, fresh from his first play with William Bates and with a new found air of confidence, strut even (maybe the William Bates ensemble fancied his body?) suggested we attend classes at The Claremont Theatre, in South Yarra. Chris was a nice enough fellow, but was there something about his personality I had missed? A bit like before you get your driving licence. It’s all very confusing, then you look at some of those who have their licence and think - I’m missing something? Claremont was nothing like the Bates bum chasers, early classes almost all improvisation. The danger of making a fool of oneself - stranded on stage. I went along to my first real play (“Rooted” by Alex Buzo) and saw the difference between this style of theatre and the William Bates style. The Claremont actors were way above anything I was ever likely to achieve but decided to stick at it as an enjoyable hobby. Something like when we were kids, sitting around playing make believe games, now adults, and can still play games, and it’s considered almost respectable? I attended a much more intense approach, involving four nights a week doing improvisation, voice and movement for four months, a joy. Well, most of it - the voice classes left me way behind. The idea of “throwing” my voice was foreign to me. Why not simply speak louder? They were all better, younger, not too bothered. The more you play with better people, the better you become, so the theory goes, allowing for and including the usual small number of “go with the territory” dickheads. Initially stage fright the worry, self-consciousness. Turned out to be one big fraud. The minute you’re out on the floor concentration takes over, self-consciousness gone, survival a necessity. It’s your space, it’s our space? Lah de dah...

A friend wrote about dropping ambition and career as a life  choice. Wonderful idea, stress begone...Multi-billionaire Richard Branson, millions of dollars for space travel; a waste of space, physically, mentally?...Vaccine rollout bungled. Quarantine project delayed. COVID uncertainty continues. Now is the winter of our discontent. [Elizabeth Meredith. The Age]...Do we all look at/think about, mortality. It's rarely if ever mentioned and yet of late I've run across them, barely menopausal, thinking along these lines, a wasted life or losing on the poker machines? Or COVID overload? Alternatively we, morerso at my age, can fiddle around with the WhatIf nonsense. How can one think in terms  of a wasted  life barely out of their 40's? On the other hand I could perhaps comfort their various degrees of false stress, but of course I'm invisible. As a fully paid up pensioner I'm more likely described as an old fart's sinecure. Am I a dreamer? Not so now. Powerball for a while there but no. I have a slight advantage in that I can say almost anything now, being at, in the process of, reaching my 86th year. Silly old bastard? Silly old invisible bastard? Materialism self-aggrandisement, nonsense. Perhaps I should consider the consequences, but I'm only a worrier when the worry occurs. At least once every week I have trouble sleeping; noises. the trickle of the cistern, the inconsistent groan of the refrigerator....By doing nothing we change nothing, so we hang in there, to what?...I'm wondering why so many men lately are unshaven, hands in pockets. Does this connect with intellectual depth? Also, do we mistake beauty for intelligence?...Two of our senior ministers, Victorians Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt featured in heavily sticking their muddy boots into Victoria’s recent Covid woes. Nothing on Scotty’s attitude to NSW's woes. Pathetic...A week of Eddie Perfect on morning 774, too slick, too much. Previous week David Castle, best by a mile. Sammy j returned, kids stuff, supposedly funny. Nah...It occurs to me, since my forced switch to a fantasy life a decade ago, I've been far more successful?..."In every village there will arise a miscreant, to establish the most grinding tyranny, by calling himself the people."[Sir Robert Peel]... Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.









"Lucky Last" SCENE 5.  SATURDAY. 9.30PM. 


ROBERT Yes! You bloody ripper. What did I tell you Dave. (TURNS TV OFF.) They don’t get under my guard old feller. The master does it again. Take note  Rick. Number 8. Not number 3. Carole darling, we’ll have to get that television seen to. Bad picture sweet.

VONNY You get that television seen to sweet.

DAVID I lost.

VONNY     Serves you right. You let him talk you into it.

ROBERT    You don’t listen Davo. 

RICHARD      How about a loan Popeye?

VONNY          How much did you win Robert?

ROBERT        Look who’s talking. 300 big ones.

RICHARD      (AS POPEYE) Blow me down. (AS RICHARD) He’s not saying Vonn.

VONNY          You can lend Carole the money for the business Robert.

CAROLE        What a good idea Vonn.

VONNY It’s only we women who get them Carole.

ROBERT        You tell David to reduce the rent. 

RICHARD      Who have you got in the last leg?

ROBERT        Piss off.

RICHARD      Not a word Vonn. Read him like a book.

VONNY          How much did you win Robert?

ROBERT        A good gambler never divulges Vonn.

CAROLE       That leaves you out then.

RICHARD      Touche gorgeous.

VONNY          No secrets in our house is there David?

DAVID            No secrets darling.

VONNY          They’d be useless without us Carole. 

CAROLE        Try telling that to Nick the Greek.

RICHARD        (TO DAVID) If you followed Rob’s advice you’d be in front.

DAVID            Will you shut up.

VONNY          My father always called them the Red Hots.

DAVID You’re father was a gambler.

VONNY And look where it got him.

DAVID I only had $5 on it darling.     

VONNY         Not the point. 

RICHARD     How many units Rob?

ROBERT       A couple.

CAROLE      How much did you win love?

RICHARD    He won plenty. Cagey old bastard. He’s got the double at least 10 times.

ROBERT      He’s only stirring.

CAROLE      How much then? 

ROBERT      Put it this way. If Kylie Black, Golden Angel, or Poppy Low gets up in the next... I’ll get the quaddy!

DAVID          (TO VONNY) You’re my Golden Angel darling.

VONNY        Don’t be ridiculous.

CAROLE And what will that be worth?

RICHARD     About ten thousand big ones Carole. Enough for us to spend a dirty 5 star month in Bali. What do you say?

CAROLE I get the feeling you’re all talk.

DAVID No doubt about that Carole.

ROBERT Are you all talk Richard?

RICHARD Don’t change the subject.

VONNY It’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for.

RICHARD Don’t say I didn’t offer.

CAROLE Come on Rob. How much?

ROBERT They’ve all been fairly short prices love. Maybe two, three hundred tops.

RICHARD     Bull-shit sailor man.

CAROLE      Are you sure?

ROBERT      Would I lie?


VONNY David doesn’t lie, do you darling.

RICHARD He wouldn’t dare.

VONNY What you need is a good woman Richard.

RICHARD How about a bad woman?

VONNY Could you handle one?

DAVID He didn’t handle Sue too well today.

ROBERT They’ve all been short Dave. 

DAVID How many units did you have on it.  Not that it matters. You’ll give it back.

ROBERT Bullshit Dave. 

DAVID           We’ll see.

ROBERT       What’s your story anyway? You lose $10 bucks and you turn.

DAVID Who’s turning?

VONNY         When did you lose $10?

DAVID I lost $5. Now who’s stirring. Honest love. And I’m not turning. You don’t  bet to win. That’s all I’m saying. You bet for the sake of it. You bet to lose.

ROBERT God you crap on.

RICHARD     Why do you bet Davo?

VONNY Because I choose to allow him.

CAROLE Good for you Vonn.

DAVID It’s a social thing. Vonny and I spend so much on entertainment. If I win that’s  fine. But I don’t expect to win. it’s not a necessity.

RICHARD Lah de bloody dah.

ROBERT        Have your second stubby and shut up.

RICHARD Put some lead into your pencil.

DAVID I believe we’re fine on that score.

VONNY         Don’t be crude. The pair of you.

DAVID Most people are busy advancing their careers. 

ROBERT Most people are hypocritically sucking up to the bosses.

DAVID We’re all hypocrites one way or another.

VONNY Except you and I Carole.

DAVID Every time either of you have a win you start to bet bigger. Why not take the money and run? Or just have a normal bet. Why increase your bet? It’s greedy.

ROBERT Because you’re on a winning streak. Right Rick?

RICHARD Spot on Popeye. Strike while the iron’s on the boil.

DAVID So how do you know when your run’s finished?

RICHARD Instinct Dave.

DAVID But if you’re instinct fails you, you’ve lost your winnings. Back to square one. Or losing more than you can afford-

RICHARD And skill. Now shut up you tight bastard.

VONNY You watch your language.

RICHARD Sorry Vonn.

DAVID If it’s skill you’d both be rich.

ROBERT One day Dave. 

CAROLE His theme song.

DAVID I say when you have a win you should bet smaller.  

RICHARD And be a piker.

DAVID Does it make you feel superior to lose more money?

RICHARD How did you guess?

DAVID Or does betting bigger make you feel more important?

RICHARD Davey wants to feel important.

DAVID Everybody does.

VONNY I don’t.

DAVID That’s not the point.

VONNY Enough David.

DAVID No. I’m serious darling. Everyone likes to feel more important. We all need to dream. Emotional serenity. I’d just like to know if they know.

ROBERT We know.

DAVID Do you know it can’t be manufactured? Do you know gambling is a disease? Do you know the Government runs on income from gambling?

CAROLE Anyone for coffee?

RICHARD Have some coffee Davo. It’s free.

DAVID (SHRUGS) I give up. Anyway Carole, if you really want the truth the quadrella should pay upwards of $500.

CAROLE        Will it?

ROBERT        It only paid $42 last week. 

RICHARD      How many units Rob? And how many on the double?

ROBERT I had one unit on each.

VONNY How much is a unit?

RICHARD      Excellent point, Vonny.

ROBERT        One unit. One dollar.

RICHARD      Bull-shit!  Sorry Vonny. You had over $200 at the pub. Show me the money?

CAROLE He only bets $20 a week.

RICHARD Hah! And I’m Jamie Packer.

DAVID And I’m Rupert.

ROBERT        I had one oxford scholar on each.

RICHARD Show us the tickets?

DAVID Show us the tickets Rob.

RICHARD Come on Buddy. I declared my $300.

VONNY         Show them the tickets Robert. Shut them up.

ROBERT         Don’t you believe me?


ROBERT        Get stuffed.


VONNY         Charming little boys.

CAROLE       They’re only teasing.

RICHARD     He means we should all get rooted.

CAROLE      Show them the damn tickets.

ROBERT       I bet on my phone account.

RICHARD     Show us the $200 you had at the pub?

ROBERT      You lot are hopeless. If you can’t take a mans word for it you can all go to hell. Bloody ridiculous.

CAROLE       They’re only having a bit of fun Rob. 

ROBERT        Sarcastic bastards.

VONNY         I think it might be a good time to get moving David.

CAROLE Stay a while Vonn. I’ll make coffee.

DAVID           We might as well wait for the last race.

VONNY         Shouldn’t be betting.

DAVID I’m not. 

VONNY Just as well.

RICHARD      He’s got it going at least 10 times with each horse.

DAVID            At least.

VONNY          David!

RICHARD       And 10 times on the daily double.

ROBERT         Are you finished?

CAROLE        I’ll make coffee. 

ROBERT         The double wont pay much anyway. $10 tops. They were both short.

CAROLE         What made you pick them? You never bet on the Trots.

ROBERT I told you, I got the tip for that last winner.  And I had a  feeling. You get that sometimes. I knew I had to crack it sooner or later.

RICHARD     I get the same feeling with Sue, to no avail.

ROBERT Or vice versa.

RICHARD Careful feller.

DAVID Give him a day or so and he’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. The superiority complex. Never fails.

ROBERT  (PUTTING THE SMALL RADIO TO HIS EAR .)  Shush. I’m trying to hear what the double paid.

CAROLE       I might not have to borrow that money after all.

VONNY         We are quite capable on our own love. I can arrange a loan.

DAVID           You need the shop Carole. The independent woman.

VONNY          You be quiet.

RICHARD      I can do your tax for you Vonn. In return for-

CAROLE        Shut him up Vonn. (EXITING.)

VONNY          I’ll give you a hand love. (EXITS.)          

DAVID           Well?

ROBERT        Shush Dave, the double...Wow. $39.80.  That’s value Rick.

DAVID            You lucky bastard. Out with it. 

ROBERT        Plenty boy, plenty. Let’s have a beer. What about a quick game of poker? 

DAVID            Enough to give Carole her capital?

ROBERT        Will you shut up about the bloody business Dave. Shit. Just leave it, OK?

DAVID            Vonny wont leave it.

ROBERT        Yeah, well, you’ve got the bloody capital, I haven’t. 

DAVID Only asking.

ROBERT Well don’t. What’s wrong with you? Tell Vonny I’m going bad.

DAVID You tell her.

RICHARD      (AS VONNY) You be quiet David.

DAVID            There’s not another gift shop around for miles. 

ROBERT         What’s the rush? She’s got a bee in her bonnet. Give the thing time to settle. Who wants a gift shop anyway? Need two bloody cars for starters.

DAVID Vonny likes the idea.

RICHARD Do you and Vonny still screw? 

DAVID Do you?

ROBERT An extra two hundred a week rent.

DAVID            That’s very reasonable.

ROBERT Just leave the fucking thing be Dave. Shit. Blackjack Rick?

RICHARD Hate to take the money off you son. 

ROBERT        Ten minutes. Come on. Ease the tension.

RICHARD      No tension here Lucky.

DAVID            Not a good idea Rob.

ROBERT Bugger it then. I’ll play patience.

RICHARD You tell me how many units and I’ll play poker.

ROBERT Not again. What is it with you two? Wait and see. 



RICHARD Show us your tickets.

DAVID Grab his hands.

ROBERT (WRESTLING) I haven’t won yet. Piss off. I haven’t got any tickets. 

DAVID Back pocket.

RICHARD Grab his bloody hands.

ROBERT (BREAKING AWAY) Look, if I get the quaddy and it pays $400 plus I’ll give her the money. But don’t say anything. Is that fair?

DAVID            What if it pays $300?

RICHARD       You’ve won $400 on the double.

ROBERT         (WHISPERS) I had the double 5 times. Couple of hundred. Play money. I need that to build up the phone account.

DAVID $200 is a big win.

RICHARD Chickenfeed Davo.

DAVID How much do you need to feel important? 

RICHARD Tell you what Rob. Ring up the TAB, give them your ID, then hand me the phone to verify your balance?

ROBERT Piss off Rick.


VONNY (CALLS) I believe you Robert.

ROBERT        Thank you Vonny. You’re a lady.

VONNY           Believe what?

RICHARD       Pick up the phone, Rob.

ROBERT No. I mean it Rick. A joke’s a joke. Let’s wait and see.

CAROLE (ENTERING) Anybody else for coffee?

DAVID Milk and three sugars thanks Carole.

VONNY(OFF) You get off your bum and come and get it. 

DAVID Carole asked me, dear.

VONNY          You’ve got legs.

RICHARD  Two and a half.

DAVID           I’m coming, I’m coming. Rick?

RICHARD      You are joking dear.      

CAROLE        I’ll get it David. It’s OK Vonn.

VONNY          (OFF) You’re too soft Carole.

ROBERT        Did you watch the footy replay?

RICHARD We watched it together dilldo.

ROBERT        Of course. Forgot. Bloody Carlton.

DAVID            (WHISPERS) Come on Rob. What’s the mail? 

ROBERT        What’s the time?

RICHARD      Sit down son. Relax.

ROBERT I’m scared of Jacks Echo. Bastard. Should have taken it.

RICHARD Shoulda’s your middle name.

ROBERT Changed my mind at the last minute.

RICHARD Relax Rob. You’ve won over $500 and you’re still whinging. You’re worse than old tightarse.

DAVID            I work hard for my money.

RICHARD       You’re a tightarse darling. No offence. Give us a kiss.

DAVID            You’re drunk. 

RICHARD Vonny is driving me home. I think she’s got the hots for me. We’re dropping you home first.

DAVID             Did she say so?

RICHARD She did Dave, along with her usual words of wisdom.

DAVID            Sit down Rob. You’re making us nervous.

ROBERT You know, I’ve got that feeling again tonight. You know? How sometimes before you win you just sense it? Like with Auntie Mary that day at Moonee Valley? Eighteen hundred bucks. First to last. Whoosh. It’s all coming back. Bloody Jacks Echo. You know what I mean?

DAVID            No.

RICHARD      Like it’s in your blood? 

ROBERT Exactly.

RICHARD      You haven’t got any blood.

ROBERT        That’s how I feel now. I really do. I’m going to win. It’s an indestructible force.

RICHARD       A what?

DAVID            You don’t want to win. You only think you do.

ROBERT Oh fuck. Shut him up Rick. 

RICHARD (EXITING) I need another drink.

ROBERT You know Dave, it’s a funny thing. When I got on the train tonight it was

empty, except for these two tough looking jokers. So I instinctively took on

a sort of a tough persona. Know what I mean. Just in case they might have got any ideas. I lit up a smoke. On the train! Loosened the collar, trying to look tough, you know. Plonked myself down on the seat,and accidentally sat on the front of the seat and went a cropper onto the floor. Talk about feel like an idiot. Flat on my bum. One of them had to get up and help me.

DAVID What are you talking about?

ROBERT I just remembered, that’s all. (RICHARD RETURNS)

DAVID Sounds more like you’re trying to change the subject.

RICHARD Here Davo, it’s only light. Makes you piss more.

DAVID I’m having coffee.

RICHARD Weak bastard.

DAVID You’re the weak bastard.

RICHARD At least I can crack it.

DAVID So you keep telling us.

RICHARD (POTATO CHIPS) Have a potato chip.

ROBERT What’s the time?

DAVID Still a couple of minutes.

ROBERT Where’s Vonny?

RICHARD She’s working tonight on telephone betting. She probably took your bets.

ROBERT Must be in the kitchen. She doesn’t work at the TAB?

RICHARD Wish she did. We could get all the mail.

DAVID She wouldn’t tell you.

ROBERT Where does she work?

DAVID The bank you fool. The National Bank.

ROBERT Of course.

RICHARD So she tells you.

DAVID Where’s Sue?

RICHARD In bed I expect. No stamina. (TO ROB.) Easy boy. You’ll be sweet. (ROB PUTS THE TRANSISTOR TO HIS EAR) Aren’t you going to watch? (NO REACTION.) C’mon Rob. Turn the telly on.

ROBERT Did you read that piece in the paper? Some psychiatrist said the keys to happiness were to cultivate a passion, and live for the moment.

DAVID What else did he say?

ROBERT It was a she. Only remember those two. Good thinking.

RICHARD How about Pete Plant at work-what’s his passion?

ROBERT Masterbation.

RICHARD We checked his drawer. Full of dirty magazines. A masterbater Dave, like you.

DAVID Not necessarily.

RICHARD It’s a fact. Everybody does it. I took a statistical sample.

DAVID Based on prejudice.

RICHARD That’s how I base all my opinions.

DAVID Not me.

RICHARD Turn the telly on Popeye.


DAVID He’s not talking. Turn the telly on. (MORE AD LIB RAGGING.)

ROBERT Piss off the lot of you. I know you bastards. You’ll all think it’s a great joke if I lose.

RICHARD What about the indestructible force?

VONNY Don’t be so bloody childish Rob.

CAROLE Have some coffee darling.

RICHARD (MIMICS) Have some coffee darling.

ROBERT A man’s a bloody idiot. Why didn’t I take the field?

RICHARD (TURNS TV ON.) Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda. Come on Popeye, you old sulk. We promise not to laugh. (AND PROMPTLY LAUGHS)

ROBERT Piss off the lot of you. (TURNS TV OFF.) Just leave me be. (HE EXITS. EARTO THE TRANSISTOR.)

DAVID This is ridiculous.

VONNY Leave him alone if that’s what he wants.

RICHARD (CALLS) Robbo. Mate. We love you. Don’t we Davo.

CAROLE He’ll come good David. He gets edgy. 

DAVID We all do.

VONNY I beg your pardon?

DAVID He’s superstitious.

CAROLE He’ll be fine after the race. 

VONNY Drink your coffee David.

DAVID It’s only a joke dear.

RICHARD Drink your bloody coffee. Let him suffer in silence.

VONNY We know all about that, don’t we Carole.

CAROLE We might get new carpets. Or another car.

RICHARD Or pay off his credit card.

CAROLE What credit card?

DAVID Do you want him to win Carole?

VONNY Of course she does.

CAROLE It beats losing.

DAVID What about your Gift Shop?

CAROLE We’ll get the Gift Shop. 

DAVID Rob gambles to gamble. It’s very selfish you know.

CAROLE Don’t start David. 

DAVID Be honest, Carole.

CAROLE Mind your own business.

VONNY That’s enough David.

DAVID I just hope he wins. If only to prove a point.

CAROLE Have a biscuit.

ROBERT (OFF) Killed them. Yabba dabba dooo.

RICHARD Hello, hello.

ROBERT (ENTERING.) No bloody worries. What did I tell you? Turn the telly on, quick. I had first and second. Quinella’d the bastards. What’d I say?

CAROLE How much did you win?

ROBERT I dunno love. But that was my best result. Kylie Black was my first pick. Should have had the lot on it really. Bit of luck and you could have had your business and the carpets.

DAVID You arsey bastard.

ROBERT Up the bloody workers Davo.

VONNY Well done Robert.

DAVID How many times did you take it?

ROBERT Never you mind you stirring bastard. That’s for me to know. Let’s just say a couple eh? What do you say Vonn? Ricky? No bloody worries darling. The world is our oyster. Put some music on.

RICHARD How much Robbo?

ROBERT How much Ricko. Give us a kiss you stirrer.


 “Hitler, has only got one ball,

 Goring, has only got one more,

 Himmler, has something similar.

 But poor old Goeballs, has no balls, at all”

RICHARD How much Robbo?

ROBERT Get stuffed!








A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜₯

Saturday 10th July, 2021. Freezing mornings, as we say in the classics, bloody cold. Difficult to think, difficult to type. I'll pick and choose what interests me, let them give us their  best. Or is it ageing? Morrison's road map: Reactive not proactive; populism, unreason and spin. It should be a breeze for Labor, sadly the supportive (and then some) media, The Age, Herald Sun The Australian 3AW and the like, very much cloud the issue of reasonableness. We thank our stars for Mad as Hell and Leunig. Tumbling rates of smoking, a $2 billion revenue drop in a year, means increased taxes in other areas to make up the shortfall, meaning 'a smoker such as I' (reminding me of an Elvis Presley favourite) will pay for the smoking tax and any increases in other taxes; shot twice? Putting the exorbitant tax I'm paying on cigarettes to good use; $1.9 billion to strengthen our national security over the next decade, $270 billion over the same period in our defence capacity. The arrival of a new book, Power Play, by former Liberal MP Julia Banks, is a reminder of the missed opportunities. Even so...


David Crowe. The Age: Scott Morrison and his close advisers live in hope they can reverse a diabolical problem with women that is serious enough to toss him from power. Morrison has been shockingly slow to act on issues that could have assured women he took them seriously. Long before this year’s explosive debate about the treatment of women, ignited on February 15 when Brittany Higgins went public with allegations of rape, he dawdled when he could have led. Her book tells why she quit the party to sit on the crossbench. Most Liberals will never forgive her for that, but their scorn is often a measure of their own toxic tribalism. If there is one thing the tribe cannot stand, it is the heretic who names their flaws. What really stands out, however, is the way Labor has struggled to exploit a glaring weakness. No matter how many women seem to recoil from Morrison, there is no dividend for Labor leader Anthony Albanese. [Are you ready for battle Albo? Is the Pope a catholic?]


Kevvy Rudd on suggesting our Greggy Hunt as Health Minister should be shown the door (tick). Around Morrison’s cabinet table sits: Michaelia Cash, who refused to fully co-operate with police investigating leaks from her office; Angus Taylor, who was caught trading in a falsified annual report; Bridget McKenzie, the architect of sports rorts; Alan Tudge, whose car park rorts put McKenzie to shame; Linda Reynolds, who mishandled an alleged rape in her office, then called the complainant a lying cow; Peter Dutton, another pork barreller who wouldn’t let Border Force officials appear at the Ruby Princess inquiry; Christian Porter, who resisted an inquiry to establish that he was fit and proper for ministerial office; and the list goes on. [ Kevvy's proverbial nail - to fresh air?]


Minister for the NDIS Linda Reynolds, meeting with state and territory disability ministers to garner support for a bill to amend the NDIS Act 2013. Cost containment due to concerns regarding NDIS sustainability is a driver for this attempt at legislative reform. The disability sector broadly, including allied health professionals, supports working towards making the NDIS more equitable and cost-effective. More comedy. And sadly more rules to disqualify potential customers to this excellent social service.


The Age, Ross Gittens/Edited. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s Intergenerational Report. Government spending will grow like steam because of the ageing of the population. Except that when you read the fine print you find that’s not the main reason. Only about half the projected growth in health spending is explained by population growth and ageing. The real reason the spending horse is expected to outrun the taxing horse is that the taxing horse has been nobbled. At a time when the coronacession led to a huge blowout in the budget deficit, the government used this year’s budget to bring forward the second stage of its tax cuts, and will proceed with the third-stage tax cut in July 2024 despite the deficits and rising debt. Worse, the projections assume that, because projected tax collections would otherwise exceed the government’s self-imposed limit on taxation as a proportion of national income after 2035-36, we’ll be getting new tax cuts in each of the last 15 years up to 2061. Yes, really. [Bully boy Josh, partnering with super bully boy Scotty. Read it and weep.]


The Saturday Paper, Sami Shah, edited. "Joining the Liberal Party has always been a pledge to uphold the values outlined by Robert Menzies in 1944: a commitment to the party of John Howard, Malcolm Fraser, Harold Holt and Robert Menzies; it’s also a commitment to the party of Andrew Laming, Christian Porter, Craig Kelly and Eric Abetz. At this point, none of Julia Banks’s revelations are shocking. Alleging Scott Morrison’s office backgrounded against her when she announced she was quitting politics would be shocking, if we hadn’t already heard detailed accusations of the prime minister’s office backgrounding against Brittany Higgins’ boyfriend. Finding out a cabinet minister sexually harassed her would be shocking, if Nationals MP Anne Webster hadn’t described a similar experience in March. Banks’s decision to not make a submission to the ongoing review into parliamentary workplace culture because she does not “trust the process” would be shocking, if we hadn’t learnt Barnaby Joyce now has a role on the women’s safety taskforce. Being erroneously described by the prime minister as emotionally unstable would be shocking, if we hadn’t all been rendered unstable by his oft-changing vaccine rollout commitments. The prime minister’s office has, of course, said it was not aware of any sexual harassment and has rejected claims about the nature of those conversations. Banks described Scott Morrison as “a menacing, controlling wallpaper”. The pattern on that wallpaper seems to be denials of backgrounding and ignorance of harassment. Just don’t peel it off, because who knows what’s hidden behind it. [There's more, but you get the picture, covers it all really.]


Robert Burton, Scholar, writer, and Anglican clergyman, 17th century. "The vanities and the fopperies of the time, to see men so empty of all virtuous actions, to hunt so far after gold, having no end of ambition; to take such infinite pains for a little glory, and to be favoured of men; to make such deep mines into the earth for gold, and many times to find nothing. Some to love dogs, others horses, some to desire to be obeyed, and yet themselves will know no obedience. Some to love their wives dearly at first, and after a while to forsake and hate them. Do not these behaviours express their intolerable folly? When men live in peace, they covet war, detesting quietness, deposing kings, and advancing others in their stead, murdering some men to beget children of their wives. How many strange humours are in men! When they are poor and needy, they seek riches, and when they have them, they do not enjoy them, but hide them under ground, or else wastefully spend them. There is no truth or justice found amongst them, for they daily plead one against another, and all this for riches, whereof after death they cannot be possessors. And yet notwithstanding they will defame and kill one another, commit all unlawful actions, against God and men, friends and country. They make great account of many senseless things, esteeming them as a great part of their treasure, statues, pictures, and such like movables, dear bought, and so cunningly wrought. They commend courage and strength in wars, and let themselves be conquered by lust and avarice; they are, in brief, as disordered in their minds, as in their bodies. No man will mock his own folly, but that which he sees in a second, and so they justly mock one another. If men would attempt no more than what they can bear, they should lead contented lives, and learning to know themselves, would limit their ambition. As a fat body is more subject to diseases, so are rich men to absurdities and fooleries, to many casualties and cross inconveniences. There are many that take no heed what happens to others by bad conversation, and therefore overthrow themselves in the same manner through their own fault, not foreseeing dangers manifest. Look into courts, or private houses. Judges give judgment according to their own advantage, doing manifest wrong to poor innocents to please others. Some rob one, some another: magistrates make laws against thieves, and are the veriest thieves themselves. Some kill themselves, others despair, not obtaining their desires."


KIDS: We had family parties where Dad and Uncle Albert, "Baldy" would get drunk and eventually burst into beautiful old songs-”In the shade of the old apple tree”, “Sweet Rosie O’grady” and others. Kenny, a technical whizz, had made his own record player, and played “Zena, Zena, Zena” for us. Later on we got our own record player, but could only afford the one record-”Down Yonder.” We loved that song. The story goes that Baldy had curly hair once, and for some reason he shaved it off, never to grow again. He had this trick of pushing his tongue onto his false teeth and out they’d come. He’d make a face then quickly flick them in again. His famous saying was “me old cock sparrow.” He always called me Clilla bong bong. Dad called me Bongo, or Bong. Auntie Else’s saying was “I’ll split you down, you cow I will”  Mum would say (in response to May’s “What will I wear”) “Your dandy grey russett with the yellow spots.” Or in answer to “It’s not fair” -”No it’s dark” or in answer to “Who are you talking about” “Jim Hicks, the American baseball tosser.” Or “You want to know the ins and outs of a duck’s bum.” Or “Wigwam for gooses bridle. “ Dad was famous for this one “When you get a quid, bury it like a dog does a bone.” Auntie Elsie dropped dead while doing her ironing, at 66 years. Uncle Albert  got cancer and died 6 months later.


Weirdos: Circumlunar flyby: Space Adventures is charging $150 million per seat, a price including months of ground-based training, although this is only a fly-by mission, and will not land on the Moon?....Ashleigh Barty barracks for Richmond; sad...Tracy Grimshaw interviewing PM Scotty; soft cop comedy...What's new? Wages low and profits up....Apparently, Nick Kyrgios’ girlfriend was granted an exemption to travel overseas. I second that...Well done Sam Mitchell, replacing Clarksom, a bold move. I smell Jeff Kennett, maybe keep Alistair and replace Jeffrey for fairness?..Hey Albo. how about a fully independent federal commission into corruption. Go  on, be a devil Mister Nice Guy, stir up the stove; attack the "Selective in its favour' party" - now! ...Blame not our Premier for the Grand Pricks cancellation (gut wrenching, so say the petrol heads?), blame our fascist (authoritarian, ultranationalism, dictatorial power) conservative government's pathetic vaccinations rollouts..."Pork-barrelling should be made illegal" said The Age editorial, very  tongue in cheek...Another call on my mobile from supposedly Telstra for a replacement router immediately, sounded like rooter?...As a magpie man I'd prefer our newspapers to stop asking Pies great Tony Shaw for his opinion. No great coaching record himself, since his departure, nothing but "knocking" them, including his nephew when he departed for GWS, way back...The cosy idea of an increased number of women in parliament, true, but the Liberals appear to attract females even more outrageous than the males?...The Australian National Audit Office must be properly funded, but I'm dreaming...We could have dome without the final episode of Jack Irish. Good cast, almost, and a good look, just a disjointed crappy storyline...So many males, including actors, with beards or whiskers these days. For appearance or a belief it makes them look more intelligent? Best most of them keep their mouths closed...Housing prices up, way up, first home buyers numbers down. Strange?...."Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber." [Plato]...Keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen.






CAROLE You’re late.

ROBERT Ricky wanted to adjourn to the Tabaret.

CAROLE They all go?

ROBERT Dave, Ricky and Sue. 

CAROLE Did you win?

ROBERT I was extremely unlucky darling. That close to putting a deposit on a gorgeous secondhand car for you. (KISS) Lovely little red number.

CAROLE I want a Honda.

ROBERT  Just a matter of time.

CAROLE  How much did you lose?

ROBERT  I didn’t lose. Bloody Richard. Knows absolutely nothing about horses and comes away $300 in front. Couldn’t believe it. Arsey bastard.

CAROLE      You won then?

ROBERT      I broke about even darling.

CAROLE      I’ll bet you did.

ROBERT  I did.  Talk about stiff. I had Centevie going with Royal Discard 10 times. Centevie wins by a street, and Royal Discard gets done by a nose. Should have saved on it. Cost me $400. Bloody Griffiths. Only wins on the long shots. Should be rubbed out.

CAROLE Never mind.

ROBERT  They should all be swabbed, including the Stewards. They wear hats you know, the Stewards. They have to. hide their embarrassment. And before that I backed Spoken, Barrakee, and Arabian Pool. Three seconds. Can you believe it? 

CAROLE      Why didn’t you back them for a place?

ROBERT      I don’t bet for a place darling. Mugs money.

CAROLE      How did you break even then, with all those seconds?

ROBERT   I had enough on Tinka Taylor in the last to get out of jail. Paid $8.50. Yes!

CAROLE      So it eventually won?

ROBERT Eventually bolted in. I told you. Patience. Should have won last week. Cost me the bloody trifecta.The point is if Royal Discard gets up, bloody Griffiths, I whack the lot on Tinka Taylor at 8/1. Would have won a fortune. I told you it was a certainty. 

CAROLE You told me that last week.

ROBERT Did you get the quinella?


ROBERT I told you to follow Tinka Taylor?  

CAROLE I work there. I don’t like going in when I’m not working.

ROBERT All they’re interested in is your money.

CAROLE They notice everything.

ROBERT I told you. Tinka Taylor with number 5 and number 9. Quinella paid $42.

CAROLE Did you take it?

ROBERT I left it for you. I’ll keep my good things to myself in the future.

CAROLE       How did the others go?

ROBERT I didn’t ask Sue. I think she’s there to look nice. She’s tinny enough to win. Dave had $10 on Tinka Taylor a place. Won 16 lousy bucks. A man wastes his breath.

CAROLE       Your tea’s in the oven.

ROBERT So how was your day off?

CAROLE       Beck and I saw a movie.


CAROLE       (CALLS) What do you mean, what for?

ROBERT       (STOPS) I mean...what did you see?

CAROLE       “The Castle” Australian film.

ROBERT        (EXITS)  Any good?

CAROLE        Better than Pharlap.

ROBERT       (CALLS) Pharlap’s a classic love. You O.K?

CAROLE       Got a bit of a headache that’s all.

ROBERT       Too much sex...sorry. Joke. Take a panadadol.

CAROLE I already have.


CAROLE        It’s a family pie. 

ROBERT      I had a pie at the races.

CAROLE      I didn’t have time to make anything.

ROBERT     Never buy pies on racedays love.

CAROLE     I can make scrambled eggs.

ROBERT        I want to put a bet on. 

CAROLE       What can you bet on tonight?

ROBERT       Trots darling. I got a tip.

CAROLE      You don’t bet on the Trots.

ROBERT       I got a tip. They’re on television.

CAROLE       Rob!

ROBERT       I broke even, remember. 

CAROLE       I want to watch a movie.

ROBERT      Only while the race is running. 

CAROLE      I’m watching “Midsomer Murders.”

ROBERT Fine. Watch it.  I can watch the races in Becky’s room. (STARTS TO EXIT)

CAROLE Where are you going now?

ROBERT I’ve got to put a quaddy on.

CAROLE I want to talk.

ROBERT What about?

CAROLE Come and sit down.

ROBERTOK. (SITS) I’m sitting. I’m sitting. 

CAROLE       I’ve been talking to Vonny.

ROBERT (LAUGHS) Bloody bossy boots. New bloody fridge. Poor Davo. 

CAROLE She wants us to go halves in a small business.

ROBERT     Us?

CAROLE     Vonny and I.  I told her I’d talk to you about it.

ROBERT       What sort of business?

CAROLE  A gift shop. Apparently David’s willing to partition off a small area of his Sports Store and charge us a nominal rental.

ROBERT       Charge Vonny? She’d kill him.

CAROLE       We’d pay the rent from the business.

ROBERT       What nominal rental?

CAROLE       $200 a week.

ROBERT That’s more than nominal.

CAROLE That’s cheap, and Vonny knows all the wholesale giftware places. 

ROBERT A small business?  Going out of style aren’t they? You’ve got fittings, stock, advertising, stationery. What about the TAB?

CAROLE I could drop to three days a week. And two in the shop and Saturday mornings. There’s nothing definite yet.

ROBERT       Bloody Dave. Not a word. So what’s the catch?

CAROLE There’s no catch.

ROBERT        Money darling. 

CAROLE       We’d need money for stock of course.

ROBERT       We all need capital.

CAROLE      Vonny says $20,000 should be enough.

ROBERT      Each?

CAROLE      $10,000 each.

ROBERT      $10,000 dollars?

CAROLE      I borrow it, and the business pays off the loan.

ROBERT     Your half of the business pays off your loan. Vonny wouldn’t have to borrow.

CAROLE       Something like that, yes.

ROBERT Unbelievable. One minute you’re wanting a holiday, the next $10,000.

CAROLE      It’s only $100 a week for three years.

ROBERT      What do you intend doing with this money, buy out Myer?

CAROLE      We’ll put the carpet on hold. 

ROBERT      We’ll have to, shit. We’re struggling to pay the bills as it is.

CAROLE     That’s not my fault.

ROBERT     Ten grand. Jesus. 

CAROLE      It’s in my name, Rob. If I want to do it I will. I just thought I should talk  it with you first.

ROBERT      The point is they’ll probably want me as guarantor. And I can’t very well say no, can I? I’d look a nice old piker. You clear $500 a week. Can you make that selling gifts?

CAROLE      Vonny says we’ll make more than that.

ROBERT       Meanwhile Dave cops his two hundred.

CAROLE     What do you think? 

ROBERT     I suppose it’s your money.

CAROLE Our money. That’s why I’m asking.

ROBERT When do you envisage starting up? As in borrowing $10,000.

CAROLE We haven’t decided yet.

ROBERT Let’s talk about it tomorrow.

CAROLE We’re talking about it now.

ROBERT Let me think it through. Sit on it for a while. 

CAROLE I’m sorry I mentioned it. 

ROBERT        I’ll put the pie back in the oven. We’ll talk tomorrow. I’ll have to get my bets on or I’ll miss out. Oh my god, nearly forgot. The fellers are coming over for a couple of hours.

CAROLE      You’re not serious?

ROBERT      They invited themselves. What could I say?

CAROLE      I’m not in the mood.

ROBERT Go to bed love. Have a lie down. We’ll talk about the business tomorrow.It’s more than likely a good idea. I’d better get these bets on, I got a tip. I’ll be in the study. (AS DOORBELL RINGS.) Shit. That’s probably Dave He left after the last. Wouldn’t come for a drink.

CAROLE       You let him in.

ROBERT      Where’s Becky?

CAROLEAt   Lynne’s house.

ROBERT     Again?

CAROLE     She’s almost 16.

ROBERT    (STARTS TO EXITS-CALLS) Coming. Only Dave love. $200 a week. Cunning bastard. Come on. Cheer up.

CAROLE      You’re a selfish bastard.

ROBERT We’ll talk the business idea through at breakfast. I promise. (THROWS A KISS-EXITS-OFF) Davo!


                      (ENTER DAVID, HOLDING TWO STUBBIES.)

DAVID Well, you got home allright. Hello Carole.

CAROLE Hello David. Where’s Vonny?

DAVID She went to an early movie. She’s calling in on her way home.

ROBERT (TAKES STUBBIES.) I’ll talk to you later pal. Spending up Dave?  Got to put my bets on. Wont be long. You want any?

DAVID           The Trots? Thieves on wheels.

ROBERT       (EXITING-STOPS)  Will I get you a panadol love?

CAROLE     I told you, I took one. 

DAVID     Not well Carole?

CAROLE   Just a slight headache. Vonny excited?

DAVID  Oh, all tied up in details. I mind my own business. What do you think Rob?

ROBERT Sounds great. Talk amongst yourselves kids. Back in 10 minutes. Here. Open one of your stubbies. Drink slowly. (EXITS.)

DAVID What does he really think?

CAROLE (SMILES) He’s “sitting on it.”






😎A Grain of Salt.

Sunday 4th July, 2021. The week that was: Presently the sadness of three males leaders heavily in opposition to my particular focus; global warming and the line between the haves and the have nots. Barnaby Joyce, Scott Morrison and our embarrassing Attorney General. Our Prime Minister and Christian Porter are in hiding, so who is left? Bloody Barnaby. And Collingwood continues to lose. Moving on - All that glitters is not gold? So much for a speedy safe vaccine rollout and a safe quarantine system; 'federal' responsibilities. Compliments of Scotty’s party the vaccine rollout has been an unmitigated disaster. The ‘blame game’ leaves little doubt on this one, political loyalties aside. Operation Pork Barrel, Bungle. The PM’s endorsement against medical advice, with most of the country in lockdown? What National Cabinet? What messaging? A shambolic immunisation performance from our federal government; clear enough? Still, in this situation I'm in rare agreement with out PM and his call for AstraZeneca to be available for everyone over 18 years old. If the patient decides to proceed with the vaccination, the doctor will be indemnified for the (very small) risk that exists. [Scotty: ‘‘If they wish to go and speak to their doctor and have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, they can do so.’’ The problem being his natural desire to announce ahead of the pack IE National Cabinet. The Queensland Premier's reaction was ridiculous. The risk factor of one person from her state dying?] Most of us were to be inoculated by June 30 - and only 20% of Priority 1 (including Aged Care) has been done? Clearly, we need these vaccinations to go ahead into normality, whatever that may be? Some 24 countries have a higher fully vaccination rate than Australia, ranging from 35% Netherlands to 5.8% Australia. Personally, patiently awaiting my second shot of AstraZeneca. Moving on...[Stop Press: More comedy; Scotty came out of hiding, last Friday "A new deal for Australia today - to get us to the other side" Alongside him his trusty Lieutenant General soldier telling us about COVID? Is the uniform significant? Shifty lot. I can't help thinking of the 'crisis' word. Leaders may say different things in a crisis, but for mine they revel in it. More factual is the Auditor-General's report discovering not a single one of the 47 commuter car park sites promised by the Coalition in the run-up to the election was deemed worthy by the infrastructure department. A total of $660 million worth of projects was, in fact, hand-picked based on advice given by MPs and candidates in the 2019 election. See? Super shifty. Back to the latest: Lockdowns, border controls and flight bans, the four-stage plan Friday, and in no rush to close the deal, given the country will not be shifting out of the first stage until next year at the earliest. An agreement in principle and can be changed or forgotten as soon as premiers and chief ministers want to go it alone.] These are purported to be the four phases. The one we are in now, where everything is about vaccinating as many people as possible. Second, borders are opened to both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers without quarantine. Third, we manage endemic COVID-19 infection in the community like other infectious diseases, such as influenza. Fourth, we get back to pre-COVID ways of living. After disappearing for weeks, leaving us to stomach Barnaby blather-mouth Joyce, he and his cohorts (and his soldier) in their Kirribilli dugout give us this - Voila! Sadly, in hope, desperation more likely, many will buy this nonsense. Hard to beat a crisis for shifting public opinion. And if this doesdn't quite do the job there's always the comparative COVID deaths world wide to fly our flag. [Those carparks? National Audit Office. The Morrison government hurriedly spent $389 million on commuter car parks the day before calling the federal election. Three quarters of the projects ended up in Coalition electorates. Of the 47 car parks announced, only two have been built. And two have been cancelled. And 11 have not yet even begun the basic paperwork towards one day being built.] Even so... 


LETTERS: "Discrimination of the aged certainly leads to negative feelings and rejection. It seems the current generation believe wisdom is obtained academically when in reality it is acquired from life’s experiences, from successes and failures over a working life time. Let the current generation consider this: our bodies are old and less able but not our minds. You may be surprised. We still have much to offer, don’t talk down to us, seek our advice from time to time and let us participate when and where we can, it means a great deal to us and will be a boost to our self esteem and dispel negativism. [Use it or you lose it is my motto but whatever, keep a steady mind and particularly a sense of humour.]


Intergenerational Report. More comedy? Josh Frydenberg, in his response to the report, stated the stage three tax cuts, due to start in 2024-25 would reduce the tax burden on most workers and would signal the Morrison government’s commitment to future tax relief. Nonsense, particularly the 'most' word? Josh is a double dutch Professor of bullcrap. Aged care and care for the disabled? ‘‘Three key insights’’. First, our population is growing slower and ageing faster than expected. Second, the economy’s growth will be slower than previously thought. Third, while the federal government’s debt is sustainable and low by international standards, the ageing of our population will put significant pressures on both government revenue and its spending. [The insights are true enough, said by The Age bloke, (Plague of oldies or sign of times? Ross Gittins). Frydenberg's words flow forth based on keeping the sheep in order. I get the impression he learns these answers by rote. A file of various answers in support of his current mate, Scotty.] 


Is 'seeming' the only kind of being? Probably. I read it somewhere and it stuck. A reality for cover, the stalkers motto? Watched Caroline Wilson in an interview, answering a question along the lines of "Do you ever worry about the effect when you criticise someone or some football club? Answer to the effect covering her research and truth, no need to re-examine her words? I'll bet she does. Even I do, albeit without good reason. 


Bugger politics, A blast from my past: Two gorgeous Aunties. Auntie Millie gave me two shillings to have on Foxami in the 1949 Melbourne Cup at 16/1. The Sun newspaper on the morning of the big race, story of Foxami beat Hydrogen (the favourite) in a track gallop, so I assumed it was a certainty. Mum put the money on at the barber shop. Collected 22 shillings, a bloody fortune, went to Luna Park with Graham Campbell, spent almost the lot on rides on the Big Dipper and lollies from The Candy Shop across the road, reputed to be a hang-out for criminals and prostitutes. Auntie Millie worked as a Machinist, caught the train at Rushall Station every week morning. On our birthdays we would get a card from Auntie, and inside would be a 10 shilling note. I asked Auntie why we (and she) always travelled second class in the trains. Auntie replied “Because there’s no third class.”. Auntie sent cards when on holiday. She wrote “I realise such a handsome and popular chap as yourself cannot have much spare time for writing. We are having a very nice time even if you hope we are not. We are going out fishing soon. Well, tall, dark and handsome (which clearly indicated she was joking), Happy New Year. You ought to be good enough for the Magpies next year.” Sister tells of Auntie Dolly’s stories (The two Aunties, both single, lived together) of Melbourne before the Depression. Gladys Moncrieff, live shows at the Tivoli sitting up in “The Gods.” The many visits to the beach, Bourke Street itself, the large market, corner of Bourke & Russell, (Eastern Market), fortune tellers. How they often walked from Collingwood to the City. Dolly always had the best football & cricket tickets because of her job at Sherrins - reserved seats in the Ryder Stand at Victoria Park. She would also enjoy the luxury of travelling to Geelong (by train) with the team and officials. After the war, and during I would think, we had coupons to get essential food items, such as butter, tea and sugar. Auntie Dolly for some reason was able to get a supply of rice coupons, very rare, which enabled Mum to make one of our favourites - rice pudding. Dolly was particularly famous for her pork & baked beans, her secret remedy a secret to her death. 


Hard to believe; swimmers Point Nepean to Point Lonsdale yesterday? Wow...Someone should speak to Foxtel Sport. On the panel summarising after a game. Nick Riewoldt who is good, Jason Dunstall very good, and who's chairing it? Gary Lyon? Please, anyone can read statistics...Having a lend of themselves? Coffee drinkers, the non Nescafe types: The need, according to some (many?) the importance of the visual look, presentable, to be balanced, sweet, clean. Nonsense? And yet, in a philosophical sense, in our COVID age, a need to feel important. Haha. Wankers? Me? Happy with Nescafe, happier still if my number 1 son pops in with a free cappuccino, one sugar....The ABC's Gordon Street studios has been sold. Fond memories, in particular when Victoria made good drama for television...Brains, sense of humour and personality; ever the search for a Leader, all parties?...Try as he might, David Speers took a thrashing from Chris Bowen last week, ABC Insiders...Brad Scott as Collingwood's next coach?...Childcare costs higher than groceries and bills; cigarettes higher than both put together...Sadly, it's no surprise half the Rye RSL members believed the ridiculous story of Danny Andrews accident in Blairgowrie...Here's a tricky question - "What is a COVIDsafe App?...Barnaby "I hope I come back a better person."  A richer person?..."Negative virtue is a positive vice, if the means exist of improving it."  [Zimmerman]...Stay calm, keep yourselves nice...Cliff Ellen 






ROBERT (ENTERING) Bastard. Bloody second. Two in a row.

RICHARD Here. My shout. Get this into you.

ROBERT I don’t want a beer. I’ve got to get the openers for the next race.

RICHARD Be another ten minutes yet.

ROBERT Bullshit. Catch the bookies with there pants down.

RICHARD Yeah. Watch ‘em drive away in their Mercedes. Drink up.

ROBERT Shouldn’t drink at the track. 

RICHARD The race is just over Rob. Relax. The bookies like a beer too you know. 

ROBERT Champagne more likely. Bloody second. Bloody bookies probably paid him to pull it. Made his run too late. What did you back?

RICHARD Sue wanted to look at the stables.

ROBERT You didn’t have a bet? You’re kidding?

RICHARD I’m not you know.

ROBERT Women at the races. What’d I tell you?

RICHARD We’re not all mad punters. 

ROBERT You can see the horses in the Mounting Yard.

RICHARD She wanted to see them after the race, getting hosed down would you believe. She backed that winner too.

ROBERT Rosie’s Choice? Bloody thing drifted. Opened at 8/1 and ran unwanted at 25’s.

RICHARD Sue has a niece called Rosie.

ROBERT That’s how Caz picks them. 

RICHARD Beats losing.

ROBERT Bloody ridiculous.

RICHARD Sue reckons it’s all Karma.

ROBERT All what?

RICHARD She reckons you’re either meant to win or not. She can pick the horses

with a third eye.

ROBERT Bullshit.

RICHARD She’ s the one collecting. 

ROBERT I’m starting to worry about you.

RICHARD How often do you and Caz have sex?


RICHARD You heard.

ROBERT Piss off Rick. We’re at the races.

RICHARD I’m serious.

ROBERT So am I. What do you like in the next?

RICHARD Relax. Let’s talk about something else for a change. How often do you two have sex?

ROBERT In the first place it’s none of your business, and in the second even if I was silly enough to think it was I wouldn’t tell you. You’d blab within 24 hours.

RICHARD Does she always have an orgasm?

ROBERT Did you watch the fight last night when you got home?

RICHARD How often?

ROBERT Will you stop it.

RICHARD I just want to know.

ROBERTI don’t know do I? Possibly. Probably. Apparently. I don’t want to talk about it. We’re at  the races. It’s my pleasure time. I’ve got to go.

RICHARD Sue never does.


RICHARD She never has an orgasm.

ROBERT How do you know?

RICHARD She tells me.

ROBERT You mean you ask her?

RICHARD They never do with me.


ROBERT Silly bastard. I’m off.

RICHARD Finish your beer. Here Davo. (HANDS DAVID A BEER)

DAVID Second Rob.

ROBERT Yeah. Bastard. The jockey thought he was riding Pharlap. Must away. Got to get the early prices.

DAVID They’re not up yet.

RICHARD Don’t tell Dave.

DAVID Don’t tell Dave what?

RICHARD Get this into you. (THE BEER) Did you spot Sue?

DAVID She was on her way down to the Racing Museum. She backed Rosie’s Choice. The giddy goat  Payed $28 a win. Won $35.

ROBERT Women at the races. 

RICHARD She’s winning.

ROBERT That’s another good reason. They always win. I’m off. (EXITS)

DAVID You two keeping secrets Rick?

RICHARD Just talking about work.

ROBERT(CALLS) Hey Dave. Guess what Rick just told me?

RICHARD I’ll kill you. (ROBERT LAUGHS. EXITS.) How did your horse go?

DAVID Came third. Got 2/1 the place.

RICHARD How much did you have on it?


RICHARD (LAUGHS) Percy the Punter.

DAVID You’re either going to win or you’re not Rick. No point risking hard earned cash.



RICHARD Nothing. Rob spends half his life studying the form.

DAVID Might as well bump your backside against the Moon.







A Grain of Salt.πŸ’”

Sunday 27th June, 2021. Politics as it stands, a mix between crooks, incompetents and the odd bright spark. COVID couldn't have come at a worse time. Thank God, to some extent, for state Premiers, apart from Victorian politicians getting a 2.5% pay rise. I'm reminded of the song Dingbat the singing cat, he'd meow and meow till the break of day - which sums up my attitude to the daily, hourly, by the minute COVID updates. Unfettered stress material. Who watches them? The days are getting longer, and colder. Setting aside reason as motive in favour of reason as logic, may we imagine (dream?) of today as the road back? Haha. No chance. Our wonderful politicians state and federal are on their Winter break, a quickie at five weeks, poor darlings. My local council has a headline "Shire backs zero carbon future" which obviously allowed me to laugh out loud. We all know about local councillors, and motivation? I could write about our minister for water, the divisive, chaotic Barnaby, previously "sick of government being in his life" now a changed man no doubt, now an expert on women, our new deputy leader, but it's all been said before. Does a leopard change; no. Now on $433,575 a year, plus perks, compared to the previously meagre $211,500. They simply tread more carefully, and call up a young boy or girl to hold in a publicity grab. Can we trust Barnaby? Can we trust our seldom seen ("Where the bloody hell are you"?) Prime Minister and his regular anti-China outbursts to stir up the fear merchants. Can we trust Prince Peter Dutton, his Department of Home Affairs getting bigger by the day, also a "goodies" collector, five or so houses, negative gearing; mandated QR check-ins, tax file numbers, Medicare cards, possible vaccine passports, Centrelink customer reference numbers, proof of age cards, a possible need to furnish multiple forms of identity for home purchases, opening bank accounts, job applications. Some may say cynical, not I. Reality, more to the point. I shouldn't complain. The Rye RSL is open for business again, for now. 


Compassion? John Hewson, The Saturday Paper, edited: Scott Morrison’s sole focus is on winning the next election. He seeks to dominate the daily media with his political agenda – with the big announcement or stunt, backed by tightly controlled press appearances, generally suppressing scrutiny. There is a long list of worrying examples of the absence of compassion, and of the shameless political behaviour that it produces. The Uluru Statement from the Heart? The compassion in the vaccine rollout, with uneven vaccination of front-line workers, the aged and the disabled? Indeed, the rollout is extremely slow, and has become basically a mess, mostly because the government has not been able to deliver against its initial, shameless boast that it was leading the world. This just wasn’t true. Upwards of 2000 reported deaths from those who received robo-debt letters, job keeper payments, the Murugappan family from Biloela, the so-called “women’s issues” stretching from the handling of Brittany Higgins’s alleged rape, through various examples of bullying and intimidation in the parliamentary workplace, of both staff and female members of parliament, to domestic violence. [I've said all this before but nice to see Johnny coming to the party. And no mention of Australia’s illegal bugging of our poorer neighbour for corporate greed, ditto the massive dollars on submarines destined to be toy car models against China's huge fleet of nuclear-powered subs, imprisoning refugees as the norm, to our shame, and Julian in that England gaol.]


Pondering? She gave me that famous look, slow-burning, sensoring male insufficiency. I've had a few over the years, most always by tall attractive blondes. It's not as if I was hoping, even dreaming. This particular type of female has always been set aside, by preference, on a scale of winning powerball. As a young man I assumed they were more into self love, silly. Men are no different. Both brilliant by association? An actor, the networker, is one who can successfully hold two fundamentally opposing views and still function? Charities: Each of us has a quantum of compassion, stray dogs cloud the issue. Opinions: We all have our prejudices, football experts, 3AW, Tony Jones, the list is long. Personality: The more identities a man has, the more they express the person they conceal. Political generality in life is meaningless? Grand designs are new forms of the old misery, achieving nothing. Perplexity: Bald men often have an unwarranted air of maturity. Short sentences often mean facile opinions. Try not to learn from a grown up until you are certain he/she is a real grown up, sometimes difficult to tell; check out the tone? Do lovers rely on self-delusion, initially almost always? In capitalist Australia, America and England, economic repression of the masses (Us?) is institutionalised. [A restless mind? On the other hand the alternative on these freezing mornings? The House of Wellness aka Gagaland. An ice bath or a freezing cold shower is sympathetic to my nervous system, lifts my internal furnace by increasing my endorphins; ever thinking of me?]


The Senate inquiry on the exploitation of Working Holiday Makers and temporary work visa holders, appropriately titled A National Disgrace. Suggestion: First set up a secret committee of enquiry, appoint a respectable chairman, better still chairwoman. Experts, to investigate the problem. Hear witnesses, name names, spare no blushes, point fingers, make television appearance grabs, closing the gaps, preventing a recurrence, draft a report setting out what conclusions the committee has reached, significant 'as required' comments if any, and remain SECRET, particularly from those who sit on the committee, eventually to become a secret annexe in Commonwealth archives. Perhaps add an addendum, a codicil type of thing as a follow up action, re-submitted for 12 months, or on request, on the assumption anyone remembers after a year or three?  


I have no hearing problems, a plus, or minus depending on circumstances. Rye RSL. Reasonably handsome chap, 40ish, sunglasses on his hair on a freezing afternoon which instantly put me off. Cliffie, invisible, a yard away, ignored by this male dasher, the me me man. Yes, I'm aware the world is full of idiots, for goodness sake I was an actor for 40 years, not to mention 37 years at racetracks for totalisator companies. Heard this one umpteen times, the fascination of dingbats. Dasher is in conference with his seemingly subservient mate, explaining in detail how to win at the pokies. Hard to believe, but true. They had been to Rosebud RSL, now gracing us with their presence at Rye. No, he's not winning, he's breaking even, it's just a matter of time, the system never fails? A crap discussion lasting 20 minutes before returning to the action, also complaining of his wife (with early teen daughter) whinging for more money. "She only works part time. I work full time?" Phew. The pleasure of seeing his backside. Sadly, he returns 20 minutes later to take a phone call from his ungrateful lady, refusing to come straight home if all she wants to talk about is money. Spare me. A Liberal voter, surely?   


Dear Danny Andrews, welcome back. Tip; steer clear of reading The Age...According to magpie legend it's easy to spot the Collingwood gay or bisexual players, they don't get a kick?...Minister Alex Hawke, the Murugappan family granted three month bridging visas in Perth in the public interest? Bullcrap. To try to calm us down, Scotty style....The conviction of Witness K for exposing Australia’s immoral bugging of East Timor’s cabinet over a commercial matter may well be a national disgrace, ditto draconian security laws resulting in whistleblowers convicted, journalists’ homes and workplaces raided and trials held in secret, but in all honesty, surely over past dealings by this, our  current government, no surprise...What comes first, zero tolerance or electric cars? At 85, not in my future...Culture has been cancelled?...Eddie ("As simple as that") McGuire, ticking all his AFL boxes (bias) views?...A National Integrity Commission as promised; with this government, your kidding?...Mispronunciations, ABC's 'Jack Irish' - Castlemaine, Pascoe Vale, Fitzroy. Don't they bother with research? And made in Melbourne?...Travel shows invariably talk of "the best coffee" wondering therefore, whether or not they serve proletarian coffee with a democratic bun?....Ankle biters are on holiday, tread carefully...Parliament. The final sitting before the long Winter break. I thought they were always on a break? Comedy gold, if it wasn't so serious...Will there be a federal election 2021? No!. Lock in May, 2022... Amazing. Work for one hour a week and it's counted in the employment statistics? Again, crooks... "To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one picked out of ten thousand." [Shakespeare]...Gone Pies. Stay calm...Cliff Ellen.







ROBERT (ENTERING) Caz, where the hell did you put my tie?  I can’t find it.

CAROLE Which one?

ROBERT The blue one darling.

CAROLE The blue and red one with the tomato sauce stain?

ROBERT I cleaned it. (CAROLE LAUGHS) It’s my lucky tie. Picture of an elephant.

CAROLE Appropriate.

ROBERT Elephants are lucky.

CAROLE I thought it was skill.

ROBERT If you’d put things in their proper place darling I might be able to find something.

CAROLE Try swivelling your eyeballs. And wear a casual shirt. Ties don’t suit you.

ROBERT I’ll wear a tie darling. We’re going to the Stokehouse. Have to look the part. Could cost me a hundred dollars.

CAROLE And more. I’m having crayfish.

ROBERT I’m having sausages.

CAROLE Did you confirm the booking.


CAROLE You know why.

ROBERT (FINDS TIE) What’s it doing here? 

CAROLE Since when does a public servant “look the part.”

ROBERT I’m a good dresser.

CAROLE Wear the shirt we gave you.

ROBERT I wore it last week. 

CAROLE And don’t sit there all night reading the newspaper.

ROBERT It’s Friday night love. 

CAROLE It’s embarrassing.

ROBERT It’s only a bloody form guide. 

CAROLE I don’t care if it’s the bible.  

ROBERT It’s a bit of fun love-

CAROLE Boys night out you mean.

ROBERT I’m paying the bill.

CAROLE And I buy the food. And clothe Becky.

ROBERT Now you’re in a shitty!

CAROLE And whose fault would that be? You’re quick to go out to dinner when your yobo workmates suggest it. When do we go out?

ROBERT We’re always going out.

CAROLE We haven’t had a holiday in three years.

ROBERT You like Rick. He’s not a yobo. 

CAROLE When he’s sober. 

ROBERT We went to a movie last week.

CAROLE The week before. Bloody Pharlap.

ROBERT On the giant screen love. It’s a classic.

CAROLE We could have seen it on Foxtell.

ROBERT Yeah, yeah. $60 a month for repeats. 

CAROLE It’s a wonder you haven’t taken me to see National Velvet.

ROBERT You said you loved Pharlap.

CAROLE I said I liked it. 

ROBERT What’s the matter?

CAROLE Nothing. Hurry up. I’m looking forward to an expensive dinner. And next week you take me to dinner. Just us. And a movie afterwards.

ROBERT I don’t really like movies after tea.

CAROLE You watch television after tea. 

ROBERT I can watch TV and do things at the same time.

CAROLE What things?

ROBERT All television shows are the same. You sit there to see how it ends and you know how it’s going to end anyway.

CAROLE What things?

ROBERT Lots of things...study the form.

CAROLE Bring your form guide - and a small torch. Are you ready?

ROBERT I don’t really enjoy eating at flash places. Full of Yuppies. The bastards only sting you. $20 for an entree and you need a magnifying glass to spot the food.

CAROLE You don’t eat entrees.

ROBERT How do I look?

CAROLE Like a public servant.

ROBERT Come on love. We might as well enjoy ourselves. 

CAROLE You promised me 6 months ago you’d give up gambling.

ROBERT I said I’d give up losing love. I bet to a strict budget now. You know that. Pure entertainment  expenses. I haven’t lost love. $20 a week tops. Shit, I’m not made of money.

CAROLE You put $100 on a horse.

ROBERT Not that again. It was their money.

CAROLE Our money.

ROBERT I was winning. $20 a week is all I spend overall, with the chance of winning a big one. I used to spend that on cigarettes. No more than lotto money.

CAROLE So you say. 

ROBERT (TELEPHONE RINGS) Shit! Who the hell’s that.

CAROLE Could be Becky. I gave her the mobile.

ROBERT Only for emergencies we said.  (INSTANT CHARACTER CHANGE) Helooo. Robert Whittle speaking... Mate! What’s happening? What’s the good word? (CAROLE MIMICS ROB-”What’s the good word?”) Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hang on one second Dave... Tone it down love. He’ll hear you. (CAROLE GIVES AN UP YOU SIGN) Sorry Davo. Yeah? That’s too bad mate. Hang fire. (TO CAROLE) Vonny can’t make it. Dave suggests we eat here.

CAROLE What’s wrong with Vonn?

ROBERT She doesn’t feel well.

CAROLE I talked to her an hour ago.

ROBERT Maybe she developed a headache.

CAROLE Not surprised with Dave.

ROBERT Be fair love. Is it a yes?

CAROLE He doesn’t want to pay for her.

ROBERT Not so loud.

CAROLE I don’t care.

ROBERT Dave wouldn’t lie.

CAROLE He’s a man isn’t he? 

ROBERT ...Well?


ROBERT Dave? Ring you back mate. Carole’s on the loo. (HANGS UP) Darling. Let’s just settle eh? Becky’s out for the night. We’ve both worked hard all week.

CAROLE You’re on holiday.

ROBERT I’ve been in the garden all day. Look out the back. What say they come around later. I’ll go buy a large cray and vino. Just you and me.

CAROLE Oh sure, just us. And you and your little boys. I want to eat out.

ROBERT I’ll take you out another night. I promise. 

CAROLE (SARCASTIC) The Stokehouse?

ROBERT You’re the boss darling. 


ROBERT Give me a kiss. (HE KISSES HER)

CAROLE Tight bastard.

ROBERT Economical darling. 

CAROLE I’m not cleaning up.

ROBERT I’ll do everything. I promise. 

CAROLE We’ll never get to the bloody Stokehouse.

ROBERT You’re beautiful.

CAROLE And a new carpet?

ROBERT (LAUGHS) Let’s just sit on that one for a while eh.

CAROLE Of course. We’ll “sit on it.” “Run that by me.” “Hang ten.” Six months becomes two years. 

ROBERT All it needs is a good clean darling. Ring Myers.

CAROLE It’s embarrassing. Like your shirts.

ROBERT I’ll buy two new ones at K Mart.

CAROLE Bastard.

ROBERT ...Will I ring Dave? 

CAROLE ...No horses.

ROBERT It’s Friday night love. Our religion. 

CAROLE You swore off horses for life.

ROBERT Kiss me.

CAROLE I’ll give you more than a kiss.

ROBERT Promise?

CAROLE I didn’t mean that.


CAROLE I’ve just got cleaned.

ROBERT That’s the best time. C’mon.

CAROLE (THEY KISS) New carpets?

ROBERT We’ll go halves. 

CAROLE (THEY KISS AGAIN) Foxtel costs less than $15 a week.

ROBERT Bugger that.

CAROLE Then you wouldn’t have to take me to the movies.

ROBERT I love the movies. Just you and me - and my torch. ...Here. On the carpet. A fond farewell?

CAROLE They’ve got Sky Channel.

ROBERT You wouldn’t let me watch it.

CAROLE Take that dreadful tie off.

ROBERT (TAKING IT OFF) I told you it was lucky.








A Grain of Salt.😎

Sunday 20th June, 2021...Christmas in July? A nonsense. No mask wearing outside. Wow. After months of familiarity with my 'prison' routine, so proud to throw caution to the winds and head to Rosebud Plaza, for once unable to use the dozen sound reasons for doing nothing. Lashed out with new track pants and slippers; $18, or by comparison 14 cigarettes. Just as well, because there is bugger all worth writing about. Our daggy, posturing Prime Minister, (talking to world leaders on the beaches of Cornwall, at the Elysee Palace or up the garden path behind Downing Street) presently a dyed in the wool networker to Count Boris from England, leaving us (again) to fend for ourselves, yet another opportunity for our "Albo" to say a few words. Alas, nothing forth-coming, our media yet again conned by Scotty's publicity team. What's happened to parliament? Remember the time when politicians sat on a regular basis. I cannot recall any past times when our leaders reached this pinnacle of deviousness. I call it Knowledge Starvation. As an aside, I received a call on my mobile telephone (how did they get my number?) listing suspicious items on my banking account and my tax identification numbers, plural? Ditto Amazon Prime. Obviously I hung up, wishing I could hang the caller. The blame game is running at riot proportions in Victoria, as expected. Danny Andrew maintains a lead albeit reduced, the plus in his favour being the opposition leader Michael O'Brien, ever quick to criticise, never voicing a solution. One wonders how anyone can subject themselves to brainwashing (Nine Nightly News) but of course the dickhead numbers are ever in our midst. Sadly blame is part of our DNA, the difference being the degree. True, I hated the idea of wearing masks outdoors, but to blame our Danny, or our Health authorities, in plain words anyone without reasons, is a nonsense. Fear doesn't help, from the unvaccinated numbers. We hope (somehow?) Danny doesn't blow us all up with his West Gate Tunnel Project. Meditating: It began around 1962. 26 years old, and still pretty much a fair dinkum dill. Had a good job, mates, married, (more than) a few beers. Going with the flow, other than who would win (racetracks, football) no thinking required and regularly short of cash till payday, despite wife and child. As an example come Fridays from 5-10pm at Hosies Hotel in the city we would spent those 5 hours (standing, never sitting) discussing either football or the likelihood winners at tomorrows races. Worse still, the following morning at nearest hotel, 10am for a few beers and the same discussions before heading trackside? Then I woke up. Got my results for the stage 1 Commercial Law exam, accountancy, certain I had failed, give it away? I got 89%? Amazing. So simple. Put in the work and Bob's your uncle. Got me thinking, previously convinced I was surrounded by brainiacs. I only did the silly exam as a favour to attend the classes for as mate. We would meet 3 nights a week for a couple of beers before these silly classes. An epiphany. Credit to my mate? Note: I never joined the brainiacs mafia obviously, but was given approval to exit from the dickheads masses. Cheaper also. [What has all this got to do with the price of fish? Nothing, an exercise in ignoring the constant complaints, television, newspapers and social media. As I see it all fuelled by self interest and mostly shallow opinions.] And who does Scotty leave us with? Einstein deputy PM (who makes Barnaby Joyce look good?) and our minister of tsunami secrets Peter Dutton? Even bloody so...   


Further: Obviously everything looks better in retrospect; youth in particular. National Service was five months of a kind of hell, yet all I remember now are the good times. Back in 1965 after passing those final examination of the Australian Society of Accountants, it occurred to me at long last that if you put the work in, you get the results. When Dad took me into the Public Service Office for an interview in December, 1952, I just went along. Placed in the Department of Navy I simply went to work. Never a thought of whether it was a good thing or otherwise. School was the same. Just bowling along. Mind you, I didn’t think I was the brightest person on the planet, which was true really, no doubt partly attributable to not having any guidance (for which only circumstances are to blame) for the first 12-15 years of my life. Dad gave me many lectures in my teens, on study, achievement, even made me stay at school to complete Form 5 rather than work at Duncan’s match factory for good money, £5 a week. I listened, but never took it in. “Stupidity is sufficient unto itself, Wisdom can never learn enough.” (MECHTILD)


The never ending saga of the concussion rule in AFL football. You can't have it both ways. On the one hand the manic push to make the game faster, the breeding of powerful runners, quick ball-ups, suspicious handballs, man on the mark, reduced changeover numbers during the game. And still at 20 minutes a quarter. Halfway through the final quarter and most of the players are stuffed. Not surprising. As for these overpaid players taking a game off to be with the missus, all I can suggest, if they take up another career after football, they give an acting career a miss. Caroline Wilson, The Age/Footy Classified spot on. From other experts? complaints of boring matches? It's June, been like this since Adam.


Behrouz Boochani The Saturday Paper, edited: The Australian government has repeatedly claimed that it does not want anyone to die at sea, which is why it keeps refugees in indefinite detention. This is a classic example of adopting a philanthropic gesture to conceal an inhumane and brutal policy. I admit I’m angry about a government that has the power to detain two children for three straight years. Why has imprisoning human beings become so normalised in Australia? Why should a country that has all the elements of a democracy, including a prime minister, opposition, free media and civil society, still be discussing the rights or wrongs of keeping children in detention? How can the public be so forgetful? Also, via Karen Middleton: The immediate focus is Australia’s new Attack-class submarines. Designing and building was originally costed at around $50 billion, with the first boat due by 2026. That is now at $90 billion, also covering an American combat system and a new purpose-built shipyard in the Osborne precinct, where the submarines will be constructed as part of the sovereign naval shipbuilding capability the government wants to develop, the  due date now pushed back from 2026 to 2035, the last is due in the early 2050's.


The Chaser: “Here at The Chaser, we take the right to dress up in a silly costume and badger politicians very seriously. It’s been a long time since any of us studied law, but we’re pretty sure the ‘Right to Dress Up in a Silly Costume and Hassle Politicians’ is in the Australian Constitution, just below the bit about being allowed to torture four-year-old brown kids. Actually, thinking about it, locking up satirists other than The Chaser could be quite good for our business. In fact, in that spirit, we applaud the NSW Government for locking up producers of topical comedy content. We call on John Barilaro to get the police to lock up all other YouTube comedians and social media satirists in this state, and do a dodgy deal with The Chaser and appoint us as the sole provider of satirical content in NSW. In return, we will be offering Mr Barilaro a position on our board (but only after he steps down from parliament – it’ll all be completely above board and completely deniable. We know how these things work.) And we promise that if we ever get questioned in ICAC about the deal, we’ll make sure our mobile phone with all the evidence on it gets run over by a tractor (wink, wink).” [Clever cockies].


About bloody time: RBA to rein in lending as property prices soar...Intimidation and/or humiliation is a way of life. Get over it....Resolve Political Monitor’s poll for The Age 1103 people, more nonsense?... Nathan Buckley put the team ahead of himself, yes. His bank balance surely a contributor?...Still the disaster of housing prices and no mention of negative gearing?...If they ban cash how do I buy a beer when the power goes out?...Australia’s new trade agreement with Britain is apparently far more important than a climate change policy?...Scott Morrison to Christian Porter, "Did it happen?" Christian Porter "No it didn’t". End of story?...The Biloela family to Perth to be with daughter in hospital. This is not Queensland. Beware...Memories of 1958? Queens Birthday match SCG, Melbourne and Collingwood. Not quite, but to quote Teddy Whitten "We stuck it up 'em." A ray of sunshine in a disappointing season, a  wonderful  effort, send off and show of respect, for Nathan Buckley; go Pies...Peta Credlin appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia; sums up my opinion of these ridiculous awards..."Look not mournfully into the past - it comes back again; wisely improve the present - it is thine; go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear and with a manly heart." [Longfellow]...Stay calm. Cliff Ellen.





LUCKY LAST.  SCENE 1. A CHEAP RESTAURANT. FRIDAY. 8PM.                                                                                                                                                   

ROBERT So there you go Dave. On the off chance you’re losing when you come to last race you’ll get it all back on this one. I’ll stake my reputation on it. It’s the bet of the day. Even if something goes amiss it’s certain to run a place. Not that I think it could lose mind- 

DAVID Perish the bloody thought.

ROBERT (IGNORING) And you’ll get 6/1.  Maybe 10's if you catch the bookies with their pants down when the betting opens.

CAROLE Catch who?

DAVID The bookies Carole.

ROBERT She’s being sarcastic.  

DAVID That’s what you said last week.

ROBERT Come on Dave. You read the Stewards Report? The bloody thing was knocked from pillar to post. Still ran fourth.

DAVID I lost $10.

ROBERT I’ll give you the bloody $10.   I lost a hundred on the mongrel.

CAROLE You lost 100 dollars?

ROBERT It’s an investment darling.

CAROLE A hundred dollars Rob?

ROBERT That’s racing love. Not now. Just settle.

CAROLE Our money.

ROBERT I’ll get it back.

DAVID Famous last words.

CAROLE You bastard!

DAVID He always was.

CAROLE Shut up David.

ROBERT Be told Dave.

CAROLE You’re hopeless.

ROBERT It’s the only bet I had love. Bloody thing was a certainty.

DAVID  I’d be happier if it had a decent jockey up.

ROBERT Who’s the best judge of a jockey Dave, you or Gai Waterhouse? You put   Damien Oliver on board and you halve your price.

CAROLE I’ll halve you when we get home.

DAVID Serves you right. 

RICHARD (ENTERS) Greetings Comrades.

RICHARD (TO CAROLE) Lets you and I shuffle off to a Club.

CAROLE Hello Richard. 

RICHARD What are we doing in this dump?

CAROLE I’ll murder him when we get home. 

RICHARD What happened to the Stokehouse?

CAROLE Ask Kerry Packer.

ROBERT Booked out.

DAVID So Rob says.

RICHARD You said you booked!

CAROLE He forgot.

ROBERT They couldn’t find my booking.

RICHARD You didn’t book.

ROBERT Where have you been?

RICHARD Didn’t make it back to work. Davo! Your shout.

DAVID I just shouted.

RICHARD I’ll have a pot.

ROBERT I tried to ring you.

RICHARD Having a late lunch with the boss. Bored the pants off me talking tax rulings all afternoon.

DAVID That’s what happens to our taxes?

RICHARD You’re a small business man Dave. You don’t pay taxes.

DAVID Don’t ever leave Rick. 

RICHARD You don’t leave any more Davo. You wait till the bastards sack you. 

ROBERT I wish, mate. Make a fortune if I had the capital.

RICHARD Are you deaf Davo. One pot.

DAVID Shouldn’t you call Sue?

RICHARD She knows my number.

ROBERT Get a beer.

RICHARD (TO DAVID) Tight bastard. What is this place? Greasy Garry’s?

CAROLE Since when is $100 on a horse an investment?

ROBERT Give it a rest Caz.

CAROLE Fuck you!

RICHARD I love the way women swear.

CAROLE And you.

RICHARD Promise?

CAROLE Piss off.

RICHARD Been losing again mate?

ROBERT You have to speculate to accumulate. 

RICHARD If you’re lucky. 

CAROLE With our money.

RICHARD Give it to him Carole.

CAROLE You be quiet.

RICHARD Give it to me then.

DAVID Have you and Sue been fighting?

RICHARD She wants me to behave like her father.

DAVID Meaning?

RICHARD Do as I bloodywell say. Silly old fart.

ROBERT Just as well we didn’t go to the Stokehouse.

RICHARD Don’t blame me because you stuffed up.

DAVID You’re full.

RICHARD I brought a new pack of cards Davo. We can adjourn somewhere for a quick hour or two.

CAROLE Not at our house.


CAROLE No thank you Richard.

RICHARD We could play here? They’d be glad of the company by the looks.                                                                                                                                                 

CAROLE You do and I’m off home.

RICHARD Please Carole?

DAVID You can’t play here.

RICHARD You can’t play anywhere. Davo thinks a flush beats a full hand. (LAUGHS) Bloody retard.

DAVID You’re too lucky. 

RICHARD Skill Davo. Nothing to do with luck. Go on, be a devil. You own a bloody Sports Store you lousy bastard.

DAVID I lease it! 

RICHARD Hires out lawnmowers and pockets the cash. I’ll dob you in. Rob?

ROBERT Order some food and settle.

CAROLE I wouldn’t Rick.

RICHARD (PUTTING HIS ARM AROUND HER) Whatever you say gorgeous. 

CAROLE Get away, you perve.

DAVID Save it for tomorrow. Rob says Tinka Taylor is a certainty.

CAROLE Put the cards away Rick.

RICHARD Yes darling. 

CAROLE Piss off!

RICHARD You look stunning tonight.

CAROLE Sorry I can’t return the compliment.

RICHARD Where’s Vonny?

DAVID She’s in a shitty. Wants a new fridge. A bigger one.                       

RICHARD Has she got a lover?

DAVID Hilarious Rick.

CAROLE We’ll buy your old one.

ROBERT Nothing wrong with ours.

CAROLE It’s 20 years old.

RICHARD You’re all under the thumb.

CAROLE I wish they were.

RICHARD I wouldn’t mind being-

CAROLE Shut up Richard.                                                                                                                                                     

DAVID You could do worse than marriage Rick. A nice 4 bedroom out Nunawading way? Decking. A pool. Three kids.

RICHARD I’m after a single fronted in Yarraville. Concrete backyard. 

ROBERT You coming tomorrow?

RICHARD Can’t get it here. Have to follow the old system.

ROBERT Tinka Taylor in the last. Past the post.

RICHARD What number is it?

DAVID Number 3.

RICHARD Hah. I knew it.

ROBERT I studied the form.

RICHARD Always number 3. It’s bullshit. You can’t win following numbers.

ROBERT Nothing to do with numbers.

DAVID Number 3 didn’t win a race last Saturday.


DAVID It could be due.

RICHARD Piss off. Did you say you wanted to know how to win Carole?

CAROLE No Richard.

RICHARD I’ll tell you anyway. You pick out any horses that have won at least 25% of all their starts- 

CAROLE Not interested.

RICHARD And 50% placings . First, second or third gorgeous.

CAROLE I know what a place is Rick.

RICHARD Of course. The TAB. Your humble employers. And, and, you make your bet. If more than one horse is in the race, watch the betting. Follow the money. Oh, and it must have had at least 10 starts.

DAVID What if it loses?

RICHARD Capital Davo. A staking system. You must have a staking system. And you’ve got the capital. Stashed down South with your lawnmowers. 

DAVID Prudent Rick.

ROBERT Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

RICHARD He’ll buy you a new fridge.

CAROLE A new carpet.

RICHARD A new husband.                                                                                                                                                  

ROBERT The fields are really good tomorrow. I reckon I could win bigtime with an  ounce of luck.

RICHARD Skill! The name of the game. 

ROBERT I’m a little short of capital. Becky’s teeth cost me over $3000.


ROBERT That’s what I meant. The computer cost us $900.

CAROLE I paid for that.

ROBERT Same thing.

CAROLE You’ll be proud of her when she’s older.

ROBERT Proud of her now. She’s gorgeous.

RICHARD I noticed.

CAROLE Did you?

ROBERT Three grand. The bastards see you coming. Should be a tax claim. 

DAVID Take it up with the Deputy Commissioner.

ROBERT Up to the Government, not the D.C.

DAVID You voted for them.

CAROLE  He tried to get me to vote for them.

ROBERT They made promises. Never again. Politicians and newspapers. Hypocrites! Now it’s the GST. Can’t claim a thing on tax. Even get to you at the races. God knows how much they take out of the Tote pools. 20-25%?  The more they get the more they want. John Wren was a Saint. He only took 10%.

RICHARD Saints don’t barrack for Collingwood.

DAVID How much are you putting on Tinka Taylor without funds?

CAROLE A hundred dollars, Kerry?

RICHARD Check out his phone account balance Carole.

ROBERT I’ve got a few dollars in the phone account.  

CAROLE How much?

ROBERT There’s nothing wrong with a punt love. 

DAVID If you say so Rob. 

ROBERT I don’t go to the Casino or the Pokies do I?

CAROLE Only because you don’t like them.

RICHARD Spends all his money on shirts.

CAROLE We bought him that.                                                                                                                                              

RICHARD He looks like Molly Meldrum.

 DAVID Nobody looks like Molly Meldrum.

ROBERT You know in America the Catholic Church has been running Bingo games for the past 50 years-almost every parish in America.


ROBERT So God approves. Provided you don’t bet beyond your means.

DAVID You sound like a politician.

RICHARD It’s bullshit.

ROBERT It’s true. I read it somewhere.

CAROLE The Readers Digest?

ROBERT It’s a fact. The Church does it, the Government does it. It’s a social event. I’m conforming with society.

RICHARD And doing your balls in the process.

CAROLE He’s still got them.


ROBERT I read somewhere once, some fellow at the races was carrying on about the evils of the punt, standing underneath a tree. Must have been a country track. Anyway, lightning struck the tree. Killed him.

CAROLE Definitely the Readers Digest.

RICHARD Could have been Womans Day.


ROBERT So. So. So. Do a bit of reading. You could learn something.

RICHARD Yes Dave. Read Playboy.

DAVID Who wrote it?

RICHARD Funny Dave. Why don’t you come with us tomorrow Carole?

CAROLE No thank you. One evening in your exhilarating company is quite enough. Besides which, I’d starve.

RICHARD They’ve gone upmarket these days. They sell hot pizzas, hot chicken burgers, chips. All gourmet stuff. Then there’s the Tote, the Bookies. the Stand. The horses. Champers. Air conditioning. Atmosphere. Very sexy. You’d love it.                                                                                                         

CAROLE You think so?

RICHARD I’ll ask Sue. 

DAVID If she’s talking to you.

RICHARD What do you say?

CAROLE I told Becky we’d go shopping.

RICHARD Bring Becky. I’ll look after her.

CAROLE No you will not.

RICHARD She can study her father at close range.  The psychology of panic attacks. 

CAROLE I don’t think so.

DAVID It could be fun Carole.

RICHARD Don’t let him bluff you.

CAROLE He’s not bluffing me. 

RICHARD Go on. Be a devil.

CAROLE What do you think Rob?

ROBERT It’s your call darling.

RICHARD (AS ROBERT) It’s your call darling.

CAROLE You shut up.

ROBERT As long as you don’t expect me to stay with you all day love. I mean, racing’s a business. Have to be on the ball.

RICHARD  Left or right Robbo?

CAROLE Would you like me to come?

DAVID He’d love you to come. 

CAROLE Would Vonny like to come?

DAVID I could ask her.

ROBERT It’s up to you love-but would you like it?

CAROLE I might.

ROBERT You can’t bring Becky. Kids at the races.

DAVID A man with principles.

RICHARD And balls. Sorry. Slipped out. 

CAROLE I’ll think about it.

RICHARD You do that gorgeous.

ROBERT Eh Davo, remember that day at Moonee Valley?

RICHARD Don’t change the subject. 

ROBERT Eighteen hundred big ones each we won, on Auntie Mary. Eh? We left the races early, after the fifth race. Moonee Valley. Lucky lucky lucky-

RICHARD Think I’ll order. I’ve heard this one.

CAROLE I wouldn’t Rick.

ROBERT We get home, and here’s Carole sitting quietly at the kitchen table reading the paper. You thought we’d lost didn’t you love?


ROBERT Remember Dave?

DAVID I remember.

RICHARD How could we forget.

ROBERT Because of our long faces. Remember love? Then I pulled out all that dough, and plonked it smack bang in the middle of the old laminex kitchen table. Hah. You nearly had kittens love. Remember? Eh Dave? We danced around the kitchen. Bought champagne-

CAROLE Cheap sparkling burgundy.

ROBERT Crayfish. Prawns. Oysters. The bloody lot. Toorak toffs. You were estatic. We beat the bastards. Bloody beautiful. Bloody Auntie Mary. Last to first. Whoooshhh.                                                  






A Grain of Salt.😎

Sunday 13th June, 2021....Stress? To be sure, not from COVID, more the spooky winds. Winter, rain, flooding, marking the departure of often the best of all seasons, Autumn, albeit the pleasures robbed to a large extent by the restrictions. The federal responsibility for a national vaccine rollout plan is a non event, thankfully taken up on a state by state basis. I’m a long way off being convinced of the necessity of wearing a mask outside? And inside, no masks required if eating, drinking? A personal choice, OK, but the hazy logic of ‘forced’ wearing, causing panic more than the COVID cases? Best I curb my complaints; enough bullshit floating in via the media without me adding to it. PM Scotty is in Cornwall, a boy wearing long pants with his (war with?) China bug, ignoring climate change (?) talking global stability, brushing off his previous pro Trump image? If you can make sense of this you're  a better man -  Gunga Din. To top it off Peter Dutton calls for more (Big Brother) American troops in Darwin. A crazy, dangerous, Australian political world. Which leaves us temporarily in the hands of Michael McCormack, our very own Albert Einstein?   


A heavy blow against organised crime, including half a million dollars found in the walls of a chap arrested in Sydenham, wondering if he had smoke alarms? Conveniently allowing our (huckster) Prime Minister to highlight this ahead of the immoral, disgraceful and heartbreaking attitude to boat people, refugees, come people smugglers. Surely by now we could allow the Biloela family to return to Queensland without damage to the opinion applecart. Human rights? Pigheaded comes to mind, more importantly how does Matt Canavan, Karen Andrews, Scott and obviously Peter sleep at night? Sadly, my experience says this is the norm with many, dating way back to the 1960’s when working in the Official Receiver's Office, Bankruptcy Administration, clearly repeated by public servants (on behalf of our government) in the robodebt fiasco. Power at all levels, self righteous pricks, the perfect opportunity for Albanese to stake a claim, courage required, the re-settling in the USA or New Zealand a no no, a lifetime stain. Gutless nonsense. [Medical evidence abounds that detention for extended periods takes a heavy toll on the mental health of children and adults. Including yours truly?] 


The Saturday Paper, edited, Richard Ackland:  Australia’s government spying operation (to leverage Australia’s negotiating position over boundaries in the Timor Sea and the oil and gas prize underneath the waves?) in the ministerial offices of Timor-Leste.The Collaery and K cases are unsettling reflections of where Australia is today. A nervous, hyped-up nation, battling its demons with laws that undermine fairness and open process, that bring the justice system into odium, use national security to menace citizens and cover up government deceit, and impose the spectre of prison on journalists who have a nose for the story. [Can we trust them? Don't make me laugh,]


Nathan Buckley: His reported comment to Adam Treloar "The other players didn't like you" was a last straw for me. Lacked empathy for the players who differed from his standards of behaviour. No-one questions his loyalty, the problem mainly his inability to see other loyalties not on his radar. And so, eventually, it came to pass; Nathan Buckley as Collingwood coach. I was rarely a Buckley man, champion footballer yes, a star for the Magpies, almost as good as Michael Voss and James Hird. I was a Dane Swan man. And Heath Shaw and Alan Didak, presently Steele Sidebottom. As a coach (other than 2018, a changed man?) I've not been a fan. This past year in particular there appeared to be a sadness, loneliness, perhaps his marriage break-up, who knows? He departs with fine words from the football press and, as anticipated, Eddie McGuire’s gush as the greatest Collingwood player ever. We wish him well. [Caroline Wilson: “Buckley was still licking his Adam Treloar wounds when the Do Better report landed and Eddie McGuire stepped down. The inevitability of what took place this week seemed fated from the moment Buckley stepped into the final season of his contract with a divided board, dismantled list and not the support of the players he once had.”] Eddie McGuire, who strives to be loved, also a great contributor to Magpie land, consistently telling us “It’s as simple as that” but a reality of bullying (in the nicest way) if one doesn’t see it "as simple as that". [Nathan “I’m really content with the decision that has been reached.” Grain of Salt material?]


Recalling the old saying "He's got tickets on himself," Eden, which airs on Stan this month starring (apparently) Samuel Johnson, arguably my least favourite actor. Director, John Curran Skype called Johnson, wondering why he was considering the role. Johnson ‘‘I explained that I didn’t retire, I just quit until I achieved something different, and that different thing had been achieved, and I told him that if he wanted me on his set, there were certain non-negotiables. He agreed and I was hired.’’ Non-negotiables included no less than two takes per scene – he couldn’t be rushed as is common with many fast-moving television shoots. ‘‘That was my biggest problem during the Molly Meldrum telemovie,’’ Johnson explains. ‘‘I didn’t feel I was given enough time to produce something great. The scene might only come alive in take six, but the commercial realities don’t allow for such creative frippery.’’ [Celebrities, who needs them, not I.]


Lockdown memories: Uncle Joe Henderson was an upholsterer and Dad learnt a thing or two from him. In later years Dad would buy old chairs and re-stuff them. Mum worked in a Milk Bar at 111 High Street, Northcote while Dad was overseas. Five days a week, and every night we would wait for her to turn the corner from Cunningham Street into McLachlan, race up to meet her for the Herald newspaper to read about Collingwood, or Australia and Victoria in the cricket. My brother, 2 years younger, always got there first, better than me at running, football, and most likely fist fighting. My sister would also come to meet Mum (I could beat her) to carry the messages for her. Sometimes on Fridays Mum would give me lunch money - a big treat. I would invariably buy 3 penneth of chips or potato cakes (called fritters) and an icy pole with a small ice cream (two-up) on top. Grade 5 saw my promotion to a pie & sauce plus icy pole. Sometimes hot buttered crumpets for threepence. Pricey, but delicious. My first day at school I met Tommy Bell. If we were poor Tommy was destitute. Little, but tough, no shoes on? Most of the boys at Alfred Crescent State School (now Fitzroy North Primary) were destitute. Many were tough. I was a talker. Very very handy. They had a centrespread in the Sun newspaper years later, (16th February, 1968) describing it as “the black hole of Fitzroy.” (“The school that’s dying of shame”). Charming. No fathers around, all at War. Two of my mates lived in houses with dirt floors.  The single fronted variety, all over North Fitzroy. Not today. A fine school and expensive (still single fronted) houses inhabited by (seemingly?) Greens voters.


The USA withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in the next 3 months and the Taliban at the  ready. Like Australia, hoping the Yanks look after those who helped them; not confident... Umpires, Sydney-Hawthorn 10-26? the slant of 50/50 decisions?...The cashless (80%) welfare pension card? Smoko's?...Can we thank the SA government for the arduous COVID-19 restrictions on Collingwood and Geelong? Motivation?...More women in parliament - the Christian values of Karen Andrews, Marise Payne and Michaelia Cash?...Not sure where the buck stops, but near enough to be certain where it never appears to stop; Scotty. Also a steal from Tony Abbott “No wrecking, no undermining, no sniping”...PM Morrison calls for global allies to defend freedom over autocracy?...To re-iterate, independent assessors for NDIS packages smells of corruption...Keep yourselves nice...“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” ― George Orwell, 1984....Laughter may be good for the soul but first you have to possess a soul [Cliff Ellen]...Hooroo. Ello8.




FRANK Oh magic darling,  one long dream. We felt the history with our feet. Architecture, people, ghosts. I didn’t see any ghosts but your mother did. She’s got a third eye apparently. Talk to you later.  Bye. (HANGSUP)  Did you want to talk?

MOLLY (PREOCCUPIED)  I’ll see her later. 

FRANK A phone call for 15 cents...what’s the matter?

MOLLY I was just thinking about my camera. 

FRANK We’ll go again. Take more pictures.

MOLLY Such a shame.


FRANK Here. 

MOLLY You sly old devil. 

FRANK While you were buying your Brandy.

MOLLY You’re a darling. (MOLLY KISSES FRANK) What about the old one? 

FRANK We’re insured. No more expense concerns, no more stress, we’ll go again. Use up our frequent flyer points.

MOLLY I see.

FRANK I bought six roles of film.

MOLLY What brought all this on?

FRANK Maybe it was that Pierre of Paris kissing your hand.

MOLLY Ahh, Pierre.

FRANK Or Peter in Rome. The way they looked at you made me quite randy.

MOLLY You didn’t say so.

FRANK I thought. You’re a very attractive woman.

MOLLY Were you jealous?

FRANK Maybe - possessive? 

MOLLY How do you feel now?

FRANK Good. Holidays must improve in retrospect. “He travels safe, and not unpleasantly, who is guarded by poverty and guided by love.”

MOLLY Another flash?

FRANK The Sunday Times.  

MOLLY The house looks a bit tired after the 5 star.

FRANK Not with you in it darling.

MOLLY I feel like getting on a plane and just flying away.

FRANK It’s natural.

MOLLY What would you do if I did?

FRANK You wouldn’t. 

MOLLY You don’t think so?

FRANK Hey. Come on, what’s wrong?

MOLLY I feel like I want to see lots and lots more.

FRANK It’s the travel bug love. 

MOLLY You haven’t got it.

FRANK We’ll go again. (LAUGHS) I’ll tell you something else, while you were in that  shoe shop in Bangkok, I saw a sex shop... 


FRANK Well, strange country and all that. I’d have to be stiff to be spotted.

MOLLY Do you want to rephrase that?

FRANK They had these things called sex  aids.

MOLLY You didn’t buy any?

FRANK Customs scared me off.

MOLLY We don’t need sex  aids.

FRANK They sell them on the internet. 


FRANK They say sexual desire’s the first thing to go with old age.

MOLLY Where does that leave me? 

FRANK Haven’t lost it yet. 

MOLLY Glad to hear it.

FRANK What’s next eh? Love. Solitude. Death?

MOLLY Did you know that Shelley was drowned when he was 30?

FRANK Shelley?

MOLLY A very special poet. And you’re a dirty old man.

FRANK I don’t feel old.                                                                                                                                                      

MOLLY You think we need titillation?

FRANK Not necessarily...Can’t hurt to try.

MOLLY You’d have to hide them. 

FRANK Seems a pity to be left with only erotic dreams. 

MOLLY What if something happened to us and the kids found them?

FRANK We’d be six foot under!

MOLLY Goose.

FRANK Time goes so fast, doesn’t it? Nearly 38 years. Hard to believe. You try to hang on, what’s left...treasure it, you know, but it zips by. 40, 50, 60..in a flash. But the way I see it, if anything happened to you, without you...it would all stand still. Time...you know?

MOLLY Yes dear. You’re not special Frank.

FRANK You are.  (PAUSE) Are the kids bringing the dog?

MOLLY Bob is.

FRANK What’s for tea?

MOLLY Thai food?

FRANK I had a crazy thought for lamb chops and mashed potatoes, or a roast. We’ve got enough hand soap for the next 3 years.

MOLLY And shower caps-

FRANK Sewing kits, conditioners, frequent flyer points.  Let’s have a matinee?

MOLLY Double feature?

FRANK (LAUGHS) I can try. 

MOLLY (SIGHS) I have to go shopping.

FRANK We could eat out.

MOLLY The kids would be disappointed.

FRANK We’ve still got an hour. Let’s open the champers and retire to the bedroom.

MOLLY I don’t know. I miss Paris. 

FRANK Come on. Bloody cemeteries. You’re gorgeous. And very sexy.

MOLLY (A SMILE) Lock the security door.

FRANK Leave it open.

MOLLY What about the kids?

FRANK That’s their problem.



A Grain of Salt.😎

Tuesday 8th June, 2021. Anxiety, worry and stress? Vaccination supplies? As Bill Lawry would say 'It's all happening", for we Victorians anyway. Short and not so sweet, bloody COVID-19. "I love America, Land of the free" - substitute Victoria for America and there you have it. A mandate of love. I could drag on about lockdowns, quarantine, the various reasons, priority access to vaccine, all those ins and outs of a dog's bum, or breakfast, but we get all this on social media and newspapers and radio, the amazing array of the points of views dominated to a large extent by self interest, the net result arriving at the conclusion to ignore it all. Dragnet: Jack Webb’s ‘Joe Friday’ character typically used the phrase “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” Tell this to our shaky Prime Minister Scotty, forcibly coming to terms with Victoria being a part of Australia, at least for voting purposes. The whingers (whiners?) we ignore, particularly if qualified to receive the jab (without impediment) and have elected not to do so. James Campbell The Herald-Sun accuses Victoria of "dialling the fear up at every point", hypocritical nonsense, considering no mention of his newspaper, Nine News, 3AW and Michael O'brien; also no mention of Morrison's responsibility, the vaccine rollout and quarantine? I trust PM Morrison as far as I could throw the man, Hillsong, political donations, Brittany Higgins, long list, still, the reality of living in trying times, coupled up with contact tracing check-ins and the dreaded word 'mandate' being bandied around. The fantasy (hopefully) of a police state, until we realise Peter Dutton is but a breath away, and we surely know his thinking on these maters. Shivers? Enough said, the dog ever chasing his tail. Remember when the daily conversation was our weather, the good times? I was a terrible gambler. A consistent loser until I reached 30 when I saw the light. After that I stayed with blind poker, a consistent winner the following 25 years. The adage "Whinge and you'll win" well to the fore. Not anymore. No-one is hearing. And Scotty, he's heavily into comparisons, blame, and dodging? Imagine the situation with a strong Labor leader? Even so, moving on...  


The Saturday Paper, editorial, edited: "How could Afghanistan trust a country that spent 20 years working with local staff, contributing to a war that destabilised their home, that killed innumerable civilians, that likely achieved nothing, while committing alleged war crimes, and which then fled with half a week’s notice and with no support for the people who risked their lives to help them?" [A retired Australian officer has estimated 1,000 Afghan allies and their families are in danger and need to be resettled in the coming weeks.] 


Tony Burke Screenhub: "Now! During a pandemic, when people are already out of work, when people are already struggling to make a living, they decide now is a really good time to say to free-to-air TV, 'Oh, you don't have to do as much scripted drama as you used to.' Of all the times!—they wait until an industry is on its knees and then say, 'Oh, now's a good time to attack them.' They do that for free-to-air TV, they do that in cuts to the ABC and then they use the fact that these cuts have been made to say: 'Oh, now Foxtel is at a competitive disadvantage. We need to reduce their obligation.'" [The ABC is seeking additional funding – $30 million per annum over three years – to support production of an extra 36 hours of drama, factual and children’s content, and 30 hours of arts, music and specialist programming each year. Good news if approved but Melbourne performers shouldn't get too excited. Likely or unlikely, sure to be Sydney bound?] 


The Mighty Magpies: The day began well as an omen with Gary Lyon and Jonathan Brown calling the early Sydney St Kilda game, meaning (obviously) we were spared from their doubtful expertise for our clash with Adelaide. Better still Sydney won, never forgetting 1966. It wasn't all roses. We still had Nick Riewoldt calling and after watching the Melbourne Brisbane game the previous night it was like watching AFL Reserves. Nick was unusually kind and we (or they, the Pies) won. We look to Queen's Birthday against the old enemy Melbourne, presently strutting, chests out after 3 big meals covering Richmond the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane, looking to dine on the magpies as sweets come pudding. Knowing their supporters from the 1950's on, it will not be complete without a victory over the Pies, preferably a thrashing. We wait, we hope. Can 1958 repeat? Unlikely, but for now we bask for 6 days, in a victory. Go Pies.   


History, late 1940's: The Rainsfords lived two up from us. They were Catholics so they had fish and chips for tea every Friday, lucky devils. They would have tomato sauce with their fish and chips, whereas we were a strong brown vinegar family. Dick & Rene Rainsford. Children Reg, Brian, Maureen and Gary, mates for life. Rene Mason always had heavy make-up on and would stand in her kitchen, smoking, with her back to the stove, holding her dress up to keep her bum warm. Rene and Mum always had a big day out on Endowment Day - a monthly event. In their lounge room (like ours, rarely used) etched into the woodwork around the mantelpiece, on both sides, was the sign of the swastika. At the back of my mind was the theory they could be secret German spies. Dick Rainsford had rows of vegetables in his backyard and when he watered them we would walk up and down in the mud with bare feet. We made mud pies so as we only had a bath once a week, maybe washed our feet with the hose? They had an Auntie Bubba (Hilda) who had at least three husbands and as we saw her, a real lady of the world, attractive, in control, over men and life. Brian was a best mate. Only small around 5’5’’, handsome in his baby faced way, charming with people and females, and a year older and much much tougher than me. I always remember him for the “Ho ho” saying. Back then if you didn’t believe someone you would say “ho ho.” (Pronounced hoh hoh), disappeared into history. He would teach me about females, knew everything there was to know from my point of view, not that I learned, but I did like listening. A policeman, Constable Patton, picked on him one night outside the Westgarth theatre at interval (it wasn’t unusual for a copper to give you a whack around the ears back then) and he gave the policeman a hiding. Patton was off duty and nothing ever came of it. We would go to my Mum (in the early days) and say “Can we go to the pictures Mum, Brian’s allowed” Then we would repeat the dose with Rene. No doubt the mums were awake to us, glad to see the back of us. Anyone gave me any trouble, they had Brian to contend with, and believe me, no-one could beat Brian. 


Jon Faine: “Senator Colbeck’s demeanour at Senate estimates this past week, and the PM turning his back on reasonable and legitimate questions in the Parliament, suggest arrogance and a sense of entitlement. They both seem irritated at the very notion of being held to account. Health Minister Greg Hunt reverts to the debating techniques from his university days, leaving us knowing he has ‘‘great respect’’ for his inquisitors on TV and radio – but no genuine answers to their persistent and fair questions. He needs to step out of the political bubble and grasp each interview as an opportunity to inform rather than to deny what everyone can plainly see. From here? Express-track the inexcusably delayed stand-alone quarantine base. Commission some clear public health messages that are not delivered by stern doctors in white coats wagging their fingers. Use humour, popular culture, faces we trust from diverse backgrounds. Enforce QR code compliance. Oh, and while I am at it, stop throttling universities and treating the media as if they are the enemy. Save that for the virus.” [All in line with my point of view, allowing for Jon's residency in Fitzroy North.]


What the dickens is empathy training?...Does Ben Roberts-Smith have the 'eyes' of a bully?...Queensland Labor politics, so helpful to the AFL 2020, election victory, change of tune 2021, a Mathias Cormann about-face?...Interesting was never a favourite word (from theatregoers) to performers after a play. Looked on as a polite way of not liking the show? Now replaced by the much used word fascinating, sometimes even very interesting?...David Speers; a curly one, can he be trusted?...If you're voting for Joel Fitzgibbon at the next election you're voting for Joel Fitzgibbon...Property prices up and up, metro and country, the difficulty of getting into the market. Why? Who is buying?...Why bother? Sunday Age letter of complaint, the Victorian government removed the option of anonymity of sperm donors, name and address withheld. He should be so lucky?....Who gets Morrison's $500 a week handout? Declared hot spots over 3 days? Snowy on the trams?...Naomi Osaka is a class act, as for after matches press conferences, who watches?...The significance of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the inferior qualities of the legislated Voice as opposed to the constitutional Voice to Parliament and the significance for all Australians of taking this important matter forward to a national referendum...Benjamin Netanyahu or Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid. What's the difference, from the annexation of most of the occupied West Bank point of view?... Should I give away the Joe McDotes? Mickey Mantle, “If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”..."We lose the right of complaining sometimes by forbearing it; but we often treble the force." [Sterne]...Keep yourselves nice; hooroo...Cliff Ellen.





WAITER (TO MOLLY) Scusa bella Principessa.

MOLLY Grazie.

FRANK Yeah, well done mate. Grazie. 



MOLLY It’s nice. 

FRANK Zealous little bugger. Did we ask for the water?

MOLLY Just accept it darling.

FRANK Do they charge?

MOLLY Does it matter?

FRANK Just wondered.

MOLLY How’s your foot?

FRANK The band aid rubs against the back of my shoe.

MOLLY You didn’t have to walk in bare feet. 

FRANK A man of action darling.


FRANK A lost hankering for action.

MOLLY A lost cause?

FRANK I just have to be more receptive. Feel the spirits. Locate my third eye. That Colosseum must have it’s share of ghosts.

MOLLY History darling.

FRANK Feels a bit weird doesn’t it, sitting on the footpath.

MOLLY They do it in Melbourne. 

FRANK Rather be inside eating roast lamb.

MOLLY Elizabeth’s cooking lamb tonight.

FRANK That’ll frighten the daylights out of the oven. 

MOLLY This is romantic.

FRANK It is darling. We’d better buy some savlon for my foot.

MOLLY You didn’t bring  any?

FRANK Can’t find it. 

MOLLY This is so nice. Roma. 

FRANK Meek-onos. Mik-onos.

MOLLY Well done.

FRANK I’m quite looking forward to sprawling on a Greko Island. Ti Kaneis.

MOLLY I told you.

FRANK What did you tell me darling?

MOLLY Travel. It’s spiritual. You haven’t had a panic attack for days. No hernia problems. No prostate problems. Aren’t you glad you came?

FRANK Apart from my foot.

MOLLY This holiday will make you ten years younger.

FRANK I’ll bet you a dollar they charge for the water.

MOLLY Frank!

FRANK Just teasing darling.




A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜‰

Thursday, 3rd June, 2021. As I see it the lockdown was a necessity, the benefits (the urgency to vaccinate, to have COVID testing, the realisation of the pace of the spread in this new strain) underlining the realisation of where we are at. Yes, it's a pain and yes, we live among fools who ignore what's staring them in the face. The percentages may well be still heavily in our favour (of not copping the COVID) but that's far from the point. Herd immunity is the point. The blame game (an Adelaide hotel, the Victorian government) is irrelevant, stupidity amidst rusted on political party supporters. As for our federal government that's another matter. No names, but in the acting caper 'like' situations, as in some well known actors making a profession of complimenting fellow performers, his/her work, while bad mouthing privately, bringing into focus my recognition of Scotty's support of Victoria, ditto Frydenburg. Add to this the diversity in political leadership; Michael McCormack, Dan Tehan? The word 'pathetic' springs to mind. And to think we voted Morrison's lot ahead of my choice; Billy Shorten. Result: We all pay. Katharine Murphy correctly brands them dumb and dumber. The catchcry - "It's not a race?" Add to this the editorial, The Saturday Paper: "Run by a competent professional. Morrison is not that. He is the subcommittee chair of a suburban netball club buffooning his way through an office to which he should never have risen. Luck is the cliché of Australian politics, and through much of this pandemic it has been there: a compliant, engaged populace; island borders; examples from abroad of the virus before it came here. But luck cannot hold forever and it was wasted on a government that did nothing with it, that did not build a robust quarantine system and that failed to secure or deliver a comprehensive vaccine program." Moving on...


The Saturday Paper also wrote: The rollout of this vaccine has been politicised from the start. The federal government has assumed controls it doesn’t exercise in any other settings. It has messed up supply and stoked hesitancy. He hoarded responsibilities because they came with photo ops. The longer it has gone on the more obviously ill equipped he is to deliver. The tricks don’t work. The imaginary queue that served him as Immigration minister is now simply a symbol of unmet promises. We are at the front of nothing except another painful lockdown and we have only the federal government to blame. He has rejected any criticism of the bungled vaccine rollout, describing Labor Party critics as “whingers” and claiming “every Australian was happy”. Peter Dutton on the other hand wants to ensure his department “represents the people of Australia”. And, as we all know, the people of Australia don’t drink tea while dressed in ways that represent their individuality. That’s what foreigners and spies do. In fact, if Dutton had any sense, he’d use these morning teas as an opportunity to find out who is a traitor to his Australia. Dutton announced when he first took over the Defence portfolio, vowing to stop “these woke agendas”. John Kunkel, Scott Morrison’s chief of staff was tasked with investigating allegations that the prime minister’s media team gave negative briefings to journalists against the partner of Brittany Higgins. The results were in keeping with every result ever delivered when someone is asked to investigate their own wrongdoing – mining companies that blow up heritage sites and police departments that look into racial violence committed by their officers – and found no “first-hand” evidence. “My chief of staff found in the negative,” ???


Fascinating? Reason as logic, reason as motive or reason as a way of life? The COVID-19 as a blame game emphasises the massive number of sheep we live among, particularly rusted on Victorian liberal party supporters. Michael O’Brien is obvious, all political and bugger the truth, sadly supported by many. Maybe I should buy an Apple watch after this lockdown to record other people’s pronouncements, the idiotic labyrinth of the spoken word, as Anson Cameron calls it. [The shutdown of Australia’s second biggest state, representing 24 per cent of the national economy was a shock, right? Wrong. Jane Halton knew it was inevitable. Jane recommended improvements to the quarantine system in her report to the national cabinet last year. They’ve mostly been ignored. ‘‘It was predictable,’’ says the former secretary of the federal Department of Health and co-chair of the international vaccine distribution facility for poor countries, COVAX. How? ‘‘Several things,’’ she tells. ‘‘No quarantine system can be 100 per cent; not all quarantine systems are best practice; the virus is becoming more infectious; as things have relaxed in the community, the risk of significant spread goes up.’’]


Funny fellow? Declaring full confidence in his ability to triumph, Albanese said he was ready to ‘‘kick with the wind’’ in the game of politics. No rush, he said. The policies were coming. He argued a decisive clash with Prime Minister Scott Morrison was only just about to commence: ‘‘The fourth quarter is beginning now.’’ A Labor government would reform industrial relations, stop wage theft, reverse the casualisation of the labour force and help lift wages. Another Seinfeld. A show about nothing?


Bloody hell. I got involved with 'nothing' the other day and didn't get around to my afternoon nap till 3.30ish, a quick hour, cant have the usual 90 minutes or my night sleep problem. Also forgot to set the alarm, awoke to a beautiful feeling of anticipation, you could almost call it excitement. A beautiful dream. Apparently a big night out to follow, and a gorgeous female without a face I could recall. Woke up 6.15pm, lay there till 7, nice, then it hit me, the cold, the time, the reality of lockdown, bugger bugger, Campbell's soup and toast for tea? I get the feeling the fat lady has arrived at the theatre and heading towards her dressing room to be made up in preparation for her song. Could be COVID, could be me. My experience tells me these ladies, particularly of the fat variety, take longer to prepare. Here's hoping. My garden needs work done. I think about it, out there, and remember Marlon Brando in his garden, The Godfather, heart attack, and go back inside. There is one plus. As an amateur writer I have the freedom of being here for the enjoyment, no reputation required. At 85, to be sure, who would listen anyway? Even so, in the second week of lockdown, an aura of gloom invades us; me? Little things. Television dramas, murder mysteries, once a relaxation, somehow tainted after the nightly (COVID) news, the COVID documentaries, even the AFL football shows, appear to add to the gloom. I'm a rusted on fast forward man during the commercials, now I often let them play out, for relief? Positivity, keep on punching; Silly old bugger?   


Last Saturday was the coldest morning since 1949, bringing back memories. Sunday evening was bath night. Separating the kitchenette from the bathroom (tin bath) was a copper, where the water was heated and (by saucepan, called a “dipper”) put into the bath, cold water added if necessary. I was always last in, murky waters indeed. And what if the others peed in it? They never owned up but my suspicions remain. The copper was where Mum did all the washing. Nobody we knew owned a washing machine. In the first month of my sister’s birth 1937 there was a record number of fogs. Poor Mum, getting all those nappies clean on our clothesline - a couple of sticks called props, with wire in between. Brother Laurie and I were later upgraded to a separate room, out near the back door, Grandpa Henderson moved to Auntie Dolls. I slept nearest the fibro cement wall, with Laurie’s bed tight up against mine, and half a wardrobe each. God knows what we put in the wardrobe, we were very short on spare clothes. A typical old wardrobe, but cut into two so there were no arguments. Dad was an optimist. One very small bedroom in stark contrast to kid’s bedrooms today. No toys, no posters, very few clothes, two beds, and no worries. Later still, sister upgraded, Dad converting the front veranda into a bedroom. I had a passion for PK chewing gum and saved them. At one stage I had a tin with some 300 pieces saved. Roydon, neighbour Audrey Jones boyfriend, brought home (from the War) a whole box of juicy fruit chewing gum, which possibly started my hoard. I also had a wonderful used chewing gum display on the fibro wall next to my bed. I've been chewing ever since. [I can use this valuable background like our "Albo" Albanese if I ever run for PM.]


Joke of the week: Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck...Second joke. OECD head Mathias Cormann's speech, the need for ambitious climate targets and sustainable growth?...The coach, on Melbourne’s victory “It really shows the maturity of the group”?...Fox Footy commentator Jonathan Brown's calling of the Collingwood Geelong game was pathetic. He's no friend of Collingwood...American film crew excused from lockdown, no surprise, depends who you know?...Asylum seekers in detention - forever. Embarrassing. Disgraceful?..."Wherever there is authority, there is a natural inclination to disobedience." [Haliburton]...Hooroo...Cliff Ellen.








FRANK Darling, where have you been? I was worried.


FRANK How was the cemetery?

MOLLY Beautiful. 

FRANK I bought you these.

MOLLY Put them in a vase.

FRANK They haven’t got one.

MOLLY You didn’t bring a vase? 


MOLLY You found the hotel then?

FRANK Caught a taxi. Asked him to cruise along Avenue D’Italie until I recognised the place.

MOLLY How much did it cost?

FRANK Not much. (MOLLY LAUGHS) I can’t help being prudent darling. 

MOLLY You can, you know.

FRANK We might live till we’re eighty. 

MOLLY You’ll be ninety.

FRANK On the pension?

MOLLY Now, is important Frank.   

FRANK Are you allright darling?

MOLLY I’ve had a wonderful afternoon. I walked with the Sparrow and the Diva...and Oscar.  

FRANK “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”

MOLLY (EXAMINES HERSELF) Do you think I look like Racquel Welch?


MOLLY The top of The Eiffel Tower. Paris, laid out all around me, at my feet.

FRANK I went half way.

MOLLY Don’t be ridiculous.

FRANK I don’t lack the will darling, just the strength. 

MOLLY You don’t understand Frank. You have to do it. Go to the top. You love travelogues. Didn’t they have any meaning? I’ve read books since I was a girl. I’ve always wanted to see things, fulfilling a dream. The older I got, the stronger the obsession became. Can you understand that?

FRANK Of course-

MOLLY If you want to be a Knight you’ve got to act like one. 

FRANK It’s one thing to look darling; it’s another altogether to actually see.

MOLLY I beg your pardon?

FRANK Merely a flash of insight.

MOLLY More like a blood clot. Aren’t you overwhelmed by the sheer physical beauty of Paris? You only ever go half way Frank. 

FRANK I get a bit frightened-of heights.

MOLLY What will you do when we get to the Acropolis?                                                                                                              

FRANK I’ll definitely have a look. I promise.

MOLLY I’ll want to take my foot out of my shoe and feel the soil, feel the rocks, the marble. I’ll want to feel the ground under me. I want to feel the energy. The mighty Acropolis under me. History. 5000 years. Fulfilling a lifetime dream. 

FRANK Yes darling.

MOLLY You’re not hearing, Mr insightful flash!

FRANK I am darling. I’m hearing. Unlike our children.

MOLLY Two more wonderful days in Paris, and then on to Rome. 

FRANK The ruins of Roma. Two coins in the fountain.

MOLLY Three. (PAUSE) What’s the most important thing in life Frank?

FRANK The more you get the more you want? 

MOLLY Frank!

FRANK Joking love. Ancient ruins?


FRANK Justice?


FRANK Respect.


FRANK Well, yes...of course, and...

MOLLY Not money.

FRANK Shit no-

MOLLY And not your job.

FRANK Good health?


FRANK Yeah...and family.

MOLLY Same thing.

FRANK Same thing...love?

MOLLY You’ve got it...I love the flowers.

FRANK Am I really an arsehole?

MOLLY Yes darling!  







A Grain of Salt.πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯

Friday, 28th May, 2021. I'm listening, to Mama Cass - Dream a little Dream? Interrupted by reality? Pickled Onions? I was far from convinced in Anthony Albanese’s support when Bill Shorten was leading Labor. The only reason Billy Boy is in Albo's shadow cabinet is to shut Victorian Labor up. Anthony’s so far short as an inspiring leader it’s becoming joke material. Could he win the election for Labor? Anything’s possible, but only as a vote against Scott Morrison, not (never?) as a believer in Albanese. The old Housing Commission beginning, some misguided sympathy vote? He talks of the “final quarter”? All his eggs in the basket as a final 4 week pelt? Crooked politicians, pseudo financial counsellors, property developers, negative gearing wizards, rich people who want to become richer at our expense and insurance companies? A bit bloody late mate. Yes, likely he’s holding fire because Morrison’s certain to use Tony Abbott’s attack mode to hide his own numerous misdemeanours, but meantime where’s the hope for Labor voters? At the very least he should have been screaming 6 months ago for a Howard Springs in every state? True, right now he's blaming the government, but where was he? I liken it to Collingwood winning the premiership. Gough, Hawkey, Pauly, memories, long gone. “It’s Time”? Put up or shut up? Another few years of these crooks, the possibility, shudder, of more from Peerless Peter Dutton. Then there’s COVID-19, shutdowns, vaccinations, the Wuhan laboratory error, the disappearance of half of the Philippines fishing areas, masks, the (former) ABC, the Arts, the soul. Breathe deeply, from the diaphragm, diaphragmatic belly breathing? What choice? Tanya Plibersek, Jim Chalmers? One day, yet again, at a time. Depressed? Nah. I’ll do as Albanese should do, keep punching. It’s Reconciliation week - “The Australian dream is rooted in  racism” - not to mention (shush) entitle-ism. Maybe start listening to Stan Grant. The better news. Mad as Hell is back on the ABC. Alternatively, the hermit lifestyle, solitude, silence, contemplation and communion with nature. Lah de bloody dah...[Cute: Letters: "I was born into a seemingly endless era of dull, conservative governments led by Bob Menzies. I do not want to die the same way. If Labor does not offer a clear alternative to the current smoothtalking, do-nothing crowd, I fear I will." And another "In 2015 I worked as a nurse on Nauru. I witnessed first-hand the speedy and efficient building of 1000 comfortable demountables by a huge team of some 10,000 Australian and Papua New Guinea workers, in a week".]


Lockdown: Achtung! Patsy Cline. Seven Lonely Days. I feel for those small businesses, the little bars, the coffee shops in Melbourne and Chapel Street Prahran where they charge exorbitant prices for coffee, sandwiches and beer. The sad souls will have to yet again increase their prices, if they survive. Will they lay blame, mostly yes. Aimed at Scotty? Mostly no. The state government? Mostly yes. They're a weird mob? [Doing it tough in lockdown. Chap on radio, owns 2 hotels, wife runs a small business, 2 children. Not easy. I shed a tear.] I love the way Greg Hunt begins his answers - “With great respect”? Victorian contact tracers were working to identify missing links in a growing northern suburbs coronavirus cluster. This puts a cat amongst the pigeons of those 30% who held back on the COVID vaccine (Astra-Zeneca). [University of Cambridge study, the risk factor, down to 0.2 cases per 100,000 for people in their 60s.].


Thoreau: “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” Visions: The early memories were of a street, McLachlan Street Westgarth, leading to the bridge across Merri Creek to Russell Station. The dominating memory, a street full of kids. Chock a bloody block. Loud voices. Screaming to be heard. I can still see it now, not myself, just lots of kids. Playing cricket, tennis ball to a light post as a wicket, or kicking a paper or sock football around, or playing chasey, hidey, marbles, or fighting, throwing stones (yonnies) at catholics, left footers, jumping like frogs, in and out the water, or the baker's cart, or the iceman, or the dirtman (rubbish collector) and sometimes, though rare, the spooky nightman (lavatories), but predominately kids, lots of kids. And after school, and holidays, and summertime till late at night, home for tea and back outside. No fathers, away at the war apparently, rarely given a passing thought, left when I was 4? Empire Day at school, union jack badges, free milk. And Merri Creek, a world of discovery; tadpoles, yabbies, frogs, leeches, flooding at times almost up to the bridge, and couples under the peppercorn trees along the railway line at night, sometimes, if lucky. The Salvos on Sundays,"Onward Christian Soldiers" a favourite, kids surrounding them, church on Sundays, a penny in the plate, or pocketed? Alfred Crescent State School and tougher North Fitzroy kids, keep clear. Edinburgh Gardens across the road, for nature study, Shakespeare. Who? 


PM, apologise to Holgate? The majority report, led by Green Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, made 25 recommendations. These included the Australia Post board, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, all owe Ms Holgate an apology ‘‘for denying her the legal principles of procedural fairness and natural justice in her departure from Australia Post’’. This lot? Not in my lifetime.


It's your  life. Your opportunity, a one off so to speak. I've used this philosophy near enough to all my life, I must have read it somewhere as a boy, maybe my father's attitude, whatever. Sure, I'm obviously one to have my say, my opinion, but if you go another way so be it. I'm not bothered. Even with my kids, same thing. Go your own way. I'm rarely surprised by the enthusiasm of some to argue their case. Human nature. More fascinated as to why it's so important for them to convince me to see it their way. If nothing else it helps to pass the time over a pot of Carlton draught. George Bernard Shaw said, ‘‘Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything’’. True enough. Is it progress when they invent a machine to cut off 1000 jobs?  Who decides the benefit of progress?   


Sean Kelly, The Age: Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian lead Liberal governments either in minority or perched on the edge of it, carrying the weight of years in power, beset by scandals, each onto their third leader, and yet, somehow, favoured to win another term. And so it will entrench the sense that incumbency is an invincible advantage right now.


The ancient Greeks, after examining human corpses, decided our brain was a cooling mechanism for our body; thoughts and emotions coming from the heart. Science might understand something about the brain but there is much we don’t know, and consciousness heads the list. Science hasn’t been able to find or prove the existence of this God in me but it does not mean it doesn’t exist. Can we predict future actions of the brain? Anyone married for more than a month knows it cannot, and any parent will tell you predicting the thoughts of children is impossible. When a human being dies science finds a way to re-use the organs but I doubt it will ever find a way to re-insert a brain, or a soul, thankfully. For the record my brain froze around the same time lust ended, a decade ago.   


700 highly paid employees at NBN Co received average personal bonuses of $50,000 last year. Sack them Scotty?..Is Chris Uhlmann a journalist or just another Murdoch hack?...I'm told some people still swear by Gatorade, sports science innovation, to help you win from within? Nonsense obviously, but not surprising, coupled with non smokers who eat organic food?... Nathan Buckley’s remark, ‘‘I don’t have a message for [the Collingwood members), mate. I coach a footy team.’’ You're the face of magpie land Nathan. It may be  true but why the sour face? ...Neoliberalism, free-market capitalism; Papua New Guinea bills the government $75 an hour, pays workers $8 an hour. Par for the course, move on...Phantom of the Opera, Hamilton, Moulin Rouge, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? All to Melbourne. Me? I'll stay home... ”And they who call you fool, with equal claim, may plead an ample title to the name." [Damasippus]....Hooroo...Cliff Ellen.






BARMAN Oui Madam.

MOLLY Set them up Joe.

BARMAN Seven up madam?

MOLLY No, sorry. I was daydreaming. An old Frank Sinatra song. A favourite of my husband and I. Long, long ago. Brandy and dry please Joe.

BARMAN Ahh. Let me guess. You have an argument, oui?

MOLLY Oui Joe. We had an argument. A tiff .In Paris of all places. 

BARMAN City of amour Madam.

MOLLY City of romance, Joe. That’s what Paris does to you. Reminds you of the romance...that once was.

BARMAN Ne-ver.                                                                                                                       

MOLLY Of what I’m missing, what I need.

BARMAN We all need romance, Madam.

MOLLY We do indeed Joe. We do indeed. That’s the real magic. 

BARMAN Joe is a very good listener, Madam.

MOLLY Joe is delightful. (TAKES HER DRINK. PAYS) Thank you Joe. Merci. It’s not so easy this holiday business. The big adventure after a lifetime together. Where did they go? Thirty-seven of them. 


MOLLY Oui. Different personalities. Trying to compromise. Searching for that old feeling, the kisses, the cuddles.

BARMAN The love has gone Madam?

MOLLY Temporarily misplaced Joe. 

BARMAN One must not dwell on the past Madam. The future-it beck-ons.

MOLLY And the present?

BARMAN The present is the future Madam, and the past.

MOLLY (LAUGHS) You married Joe?

BARMAN Three times Madam.

MOLLY No! Get out.

BARMAN Get in, madam. Variety. Good for the spirit. Oui?


BARMAN So, it is Madam. A lovely lady like you should try it.

MOLLY You think?

BARMAN Of course, Madam. You only live once.

MOLLY Sounds like a movie.

BARMAN Or a song, the seven-up song! ... Joe finishes in one hour.

MOLLY Ahh, Joe.  Variety. I like the sound of that. 

BARMAN We will sing the same song. Oui?

MOLLY I’m a grandmother you know.

BARMAN So is Racquel Welch Madam.

MOLLY That’s true. 

BARMAN “A lovely lady, garmented in light From her own beauty” 

MOLLY Sorry?

BARMAN Shelley, madam. Lust never sleeps.

MOLLY Shelley?

BARMAN Joe, madam.

MOLLY I see.

BARMAN Joe finishes in 57 minutes.

MOLLY (LAUGHS) Shelley. They should pay you double. I need a shovel Joe.

BARMAN A shovel, Madam?

MOLLY A large shovel. To hit the bastard over the head with. 

BARMAN Take careful aim madam. Better dead than injured. Oui? You must make him want you.

MOLLY He wants me Joe. He needs me. He’s a man you see.

BARMAN 56 minutes Madam.

MOLLY And then?

BARMAN Madam’s pleasure?

MOLLY(SMILES) Play that song again Joe.





A Grain of Salt.😎

Sunday, 23rd May, 2021. Josh Frydenberg “Australia is playing its part on climate change, having met our 2020 commitments and on track to meet and beat our 2030 target,” Arguably the biggest lie of the past 5 years. Sadly Frydenberg, obviously Dutton and our dodgy Prime Minister, make our previous times under previous (so called) leaders seem like heaven, on the proverbial stick. I'm tapering off, to a degree, old age and all that. Currently some 29% of Australians are carrying on like pork chops. Somebody mentions blood clots and they run for cover; one in 200,000, thereabouts. I hope they don't swim in Port Phillip Bay, keeping in mind the risk of a shark attack, some 7 deaths the past 175 years, ignoring the 35,000 or more who died driving here for a day at the beach. Beware of cars? Smoking, drinking, a dozen other reasons. There's a risk factor in walking to your bloody letter box; spiders? It was only a year ago we were hoping someone would invent a vaccine? Now you have your cake and you can’t find a bloody knife? I need big words to expunge these dreadful people from my everyday existence. Not only our leaders of course. Listening to the radio, the various letters pages, emphasise our confusion. Well, my confusion anyway. The vacant reasons for not taking the needle. They're waiting, for what? A second, third wave, Godot? I'll try Thoreau...“Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through country, church and state, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call REALITY, and say, this is, and no mistake”. I feel better now? Not really. The cold mornings, the Collingwood disaster. Time for a beer, a cigarette, meditation. One day at a time. Even so...


Further - Reading where up to a third of our population are not going to take the vaccine, proof of the number of dickheads we live alongside. I assume these like minded loonies do not believe in climate change, surely an even bigger disaster? 46 per cent of voters believe the Coalition is the best party to manage COVID-19 compared to 20 per cent who prefer Labor. On jobs and wages, it is 37 to 30 per cent. On health and aged care it is 34 to 29 per cent. That is the power of mammoth spending. The Coalition is lavishing taxpayer funds on problems that often come from its own neglect, such as in aged care, but the effect on voters is real. Basically double dutch figures with the usual margin of error between 2-3% and under 2000 people, meaning bugger all in terms of the next election, zooming in? 


I was having coffee in a little Cafe looking out over Port Phillip Bay, across the road from Nepean Highway, thinking back to 1966, an Accountant in the Public Service. St Kilda wins the Grand Final by one point. Back then they had a tea room where we would all congregate twice daily and all they talked about was superannuation units and how much they would be worth when they reached retirement at 65. I wasn't listening of course. Thirty years old, more interested in other things? The average age for dying was 67, a lousy two years to whoop it up. 2001 was light years away, as was a Collingwood premiership. I looked up at the street sign, Ozone Street, Rye, on the Mornington Peninsula. The big Safeway Supermarket looking out to the Bay between Ozone and Hygeia Streets (named after the ferries running from Port Melbourne to Sorrento between 1886 and 1910). I ordered a second hot strong cappuccino from the pretty waitress as I pondered not too fleetingly, but longingly, on her shapely Betty Grable legs, a minor advantage of invisibility. My memory zipped back to 1940, our first holiday in Rye. Travelling from Westgarth was the equivalent of an overseas trip. A train from Rushall to Princes Bridge, then Flinders Street to Frankston and the neverending trip (90 minutes), still some 90 minutes 2021, on the Portsea Peninsula Bus. The excitement of seeing the water between Mordialloc and Aspendale. That whiff of anticipation, that very special smell. Number 14 Ozone Street. The house long gone. No electricity, the outside lavatory a hole in the ground; spiders, ants, mosquitoes and no Safeway monster. Streams of consciousness, flashbacks of confusion, happiness, fear. No money, same as everybody. Mum’s instructions “Go out and play, and don’t get into mischief. And be home for tea at 6pm." Free to roam.  Go Pies. 


First coined by the Roman poet Horace more than 2,000 years ago, carpe diem (or ‘seize the day’) is “one of the oldest philosophical mottos in Western history.” According to social philosopher Roman Krznaric. “Human beings have always had mediated experiences, ever since the invention of reading, but now things like TV have so removed us from direct experience of life that we’ve almost forgotten what it’s like. Krznaric wrote Carpe Diem Regained: The Vanishing Art of Seizing the Day. Seize the day! That’s what he said. An inspirational comment? How about “Have a nice day” or “cheerio”? He bullocked off to seize his frivolous day. I was at the cafe, coffee, reading, MMOB. I drifted back; the late 50’s. The open fields of green surrounded by friends, acquaintances, sunflowers, daffodils and old people. Swings, slides, running and tennis balls, the Merri Creek, tadpoles, the tip. Mucking around. No fields now, big trees, apartments, surrounding me. Walking is difficult. Hard to seize the coffee cup let alone the bloody day. Maybe go backwards; is there an App to go backwards? The brain’s still working, just. See a doctor, antibiotics for the back; miracle drug guaranteed to bring on diarrhea. Bloody forest. Snakes everywhere; huntsman, politicians, crooks. Mates, Gary and Jack, Lawrie, Nancy, lovely Dianna, all to lah lah land. A day at a time, an hour, a bloody minute. COVID. Seizing be damned. Back to my newspaper. 


I spent my first 19 year in Northcote (Westgarth) taking in North Fitzroy, Collingwood obviously. It stays with you forever. Eventually the sadness of losing Northcote and North Fitzroy, and who can believe it - Collingwood? Some half of those 19 years were in St Kilda, Luna Park, the darker side, the mini golf, prostitutes. St Kilda, seemingly, hopefully (the film festival, the writers festival) still survives. On the other hand - the City of Port Phillip plans to stop funding some of Melbourne’s leading independent arts organisations, including contemporary Australian drama innovators Red Stitch and St Kilda’s development hothouse Theatre Works. $30,000 each. Please God no. The insanity?


Our mate Peerless Peter (Dutton) true to form. The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia to acknowledge the diversity of the Defence workforce – marked with colour, cake and a gentle reminder to use inclusive language – is a major threat to our national security and must be stopped? That chap who ran the Gestapo during WW2 comes to mind.


Jon Faine. The Age, edited: Government budgets are now theatrical events rather than financial statements. Even cursory scrutiny of last year’s efforts – federal or state – or any of the years before, will reveal that the promises made and predictions relied upon bear little connection to reality. It is all about the moment, not what happens afterwards. Almost no one follows up any of the grand promises made. There are zero long-term electoral consequences when sometimes only months later the grand sweeping commitments are quietly abandoned. Anything to distract the voters from the astonishing and inexplicable failure to successfully vaccinate Australia as an approaching deep winter brings a probable third infection wave. Revealingly, there are other issues worrying Liberals in marginal seats. Voters in the formerly safe but now marginal Liberal seat of Higgins, around Toorak, Armadale and Malvern, have benefited from a letterbox survey. All the signs are there. With the federal budget out of the way, the faux election campaign begins. Ignore the PM’s protestations to the contrary – he will go anytime he thinks it is to his advantage. As John Howard always warned ‘‘you cannot fatten a pig on market day’’. [Good man, Jon.]


Keeping the borders shut? I live alongside 6 two bedroom B&B's. Noisy buggers. Keep the borders to the Mornington Peninsula shut?...Inappropriate behaviour; unwarranted conduct reasonably interpreted to be demeaning or offensive. Persistent, repeated inappropriate behaviour can become a form of harassment and thereby undermine a culture of safety? Who decides?...Another gem from Matthew Richardson "Bontempelli is getting more balls on the outside, so he's either going to pass it to someone or kicking goals."...The Israeli Palestine ceasefire is simply that, a ceasefire.The balance of power is heavily in favour of Israel?...David Wenham is in town appearing at some Sup Nova thing. The females love him. No idea why?...Hand washing, religiously, on return from the RSL; a pot or two. Assuming I had a slash there, should that area also be washed?...I'm happy I never bought a mercedes car. My toyota corolla thankfully gets me to Woolworths twice a week...Former Collingwood coach Phonse Kyne's message to the team at three quarter time with the magpies behind on the scoreboard: "Let's stir up the stove."...The 6pm Nine News is basically a publicity site for Morrison's re-election....I’ve been  dreaming lots more, that wonderful tune “I’ll see you in my dreams.” It’s day 19 since my COVID-19 vaccination. I read of the blood clot warning from days 4-20. Last day tomorrow? No more dreams?...Keep yourselves nice... Hooroo...Cliff Ellen. 






PETER Scusa. Mi puo aiutare.

MOLLY Sorry. I don’t understand.

PETER You’re Australian.

MOLLY Is it so obvious?

PETER Long way. (MOLLY SMILES) Actually, I wonder if you would be kind enough to assist me. I’m wanting a decent brand of perfume and I’m afraid I’m not very good at it.

MOLLY That depends who it’s for.

PETER My mother.

MOLLY I see.

PETER Really. I always bring home a present for mother. One of life’s little duties. 

MOLLY Lucky mother.

PETER I’ll take that as a compliment. 

MOLLY An elderly lady or a modern lady?

PETER Definitely conservative.

MOLLY I love Georgio, but, I’d say your mother would prefer L’ Air Du Temps. 

PETER Thank you. Are you travelling on an organised tour?

MOLLY With my husband. We’re going to Athens and Mykonos.

PETER Your first visit?

MOLLY Our first overseas trip.

PETER How romantic. (MOLLY LAUGHS) Mykonos is the most beautiful island. There’s a wonderful little restaurant not far from the harbour. Little Venice. You must try it.

MOLLY I might just do that.

PETER I’m Peter. Perhaps we could meet there for lunch one day?

MOLLY Mother wouldn’t object?

PETER (LAUGHS) Mother would be thrilled.


FRANK Arri-eee vederci Roma.....goodbye.....dah dah, dah dum-

PETER (ENTERS. SITS. LOOKS)... Enjoy Rome did we?

FRANK Mmm? Oh g’day mate. Yes. Off to Athens now, If the plane ever decides to arrive. 40 minutes late. Why don’t they speak English over these loudspeakers?

PETER They don’t speak Italian at the English speaking airports.

FRANK Is that right?

PETER The plane has arrived. It’s all a matter of clearance. Rome is a busy airport. 

FRANK It’s not a very big plane.

PETER It’s a 777.

FRANK Seasoned traveller are you?

PETER Not as such, no. I take myself off once every year. Three or four weeks. Unwind. Escape the madness of London.

FRANK (LAUGHS) Good old London, yes. What do you do?


FRANK For a living man. Occupation! 

PETER Oh. Psychologist. Been at it 12 years. Been travelling 12 years. Seen it all really. Rome is my favourite. It’s unique. The Eternal City, with a history stretching back 2700 years.

FRANK Eternal traffic.

PETER Sorry?

FRANK Not married then?

PETER (SMILES) Why do you ask?

FRANK You’d do well in the marriage business. Psychology and all that.

PETER Generally it’s the wives I see.

FRANK Men don’t need psychologists.

PETER Men don’t want psychologists. 

FRANK Roses do the trick. Roses, chocolates,  money... and subservience. Husbands are too far gone.  A mass of confusion.

PETER What business are you in?

FRANK Finance mate. Senior Financial Advisor for the Government. Can’t say much more. Top secret.  My wife and I are constant travellers.  Off to Athens for a break. The mighty Acropolis. Plato. Socrates. You?

PETER Mykonos actually.

FRANK I see.

PETER Do you? 

FRANK Seen Australia? 

PETER I hope to get there one day. 

FRANK I’ll be back there in 20 days.....8 hours, 17 minutes.

PETER What part of Australia?

FRANK Melbourne mate. World’s most liveable city. Garden State. The Yarra River. Fairy Penguins. Hump back whales. TAB’s. Football. Cricket. Cold beer. What’s so special about Rome?

PETER History, the ancient city. The educational centre, cultural, historic ruins, fashions, architecture-

FRANK I’m not big on monuments.