here in New Zealand, and I guess Australia too
—of which, for my opinion, I shall let The Bard speak on behalf—
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing …
—and I challenge anyone to gainsay it. Here, have a nice tune before you accept my challenge and we go to war, you and me. You and I. Whatever …
Same old tune, same old song …
THEY WERE DIFFERENT
in those days. Their attitudes to life, death, the universe and everything were quite remote from ours. No? Yes— —so I’d venture that the great majority of the poor naive twits were actually anticipating a glorious adventure when they ‘flocked to the colours’ and signed on. You know, off on a jolly jape—to see the big wide world at government expense, and if lucky give the jolly old Hun a severe thrashing between beers, trinkets to send home, and painted easy foreign harlots.
A bit different in later wars (you know, all the ones that came after The War To End All Wars).
Or is it different?
Maybe not, the cannon fodder still go forth to kill, maim and/or destroy at the behest of the scumbags in high places who happily send them. It’s just a bit more comfortable these days, the rations more palatable, and the medals are now scattered about with mad rapturous abandonment. Every man is a Hero and don’t you forget it!
the band plays Waltzing Matilda …
… and often as I walk by the Invercargill War Memorial I look up and wonder—
—is this pensive old soldier happy with our Tomorrow for which he gave his Today?
What if he bellowed forth his opinion of the whole sorry business, and horrors~! it wasn’t Politically Correct? Oops … I think they’d send for Men-in-white-suits to lead him gently away to a place of
silenc safety: there’s no room for idiots telling tales, is there? And as the late Robert Graves (another disgruntled grunt) said in his book, words to the effect that when defending Siegfried Sassoon against a roomful of Colonel Blimps the only way he could get his friend off the charge was to pretend that the only sane man in the room was mad. (You know, I love the logic there, isn’t it gorgeous?)
But who are we going to believe—the ‘shell-shocked’ (or dead) idiots babbling about what really happens out there … or those nice men in suits who tearfully round us up and send us off every twenty years or so; and later organise the bugle bunfests at dawn for the rest of us to sorrowfully attend?
Tomorrow in New Zealand is ANZAC Day. So?
SO I SAY AGAIN
that going to war is too important a decision for elected dictators* to make. It is a decision that should be put to the enfranchised People of the country as a whole, only.
AND their decisions should be made only with full and complete disclosure of all relevant facts.
AND if we (we? Oh well …) do go to war, then it should be attended by volunteers only. Conscripts cannot fight for Freedom—there’s a built-in contradiction—but if the cause is sound and right there’d be no shortage of volunteers. (Hell, if New Zealand were being invaded I’d be one of the first down on the beach with a rifle—and me a sworn pacifist.)
I love it! Yes, I’m there. One man in his time plays many parts and I’ve played most of them. Currently I’m proud to be the nonchalant ‘shirker’ in civvies over there on the right. Look closely, he’s whistling—and I’ll bet it’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’.
Long may it last …
may prove a bit cathartic to some, a nuisance to others, and a brilliant recruiting tool to/for fools on their way to dusty death (go read that poem again if you don’t get the connection—I read it often).
Do we ever learn the lessons of the past?
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow …
I say not …
* We are proud to call it Democracy. (A rose, by any other name, would smell …)
that came in fresh with an email tonight. (It anticipates the post I was planning so I’ll post now and fire off my own tomorrow.) It came in via the widow of an Air Force vet who passed away a few years ago—great guy, but hey: other than those close, who cares?
AND HEADLINE NEWS TONIGHT
our beloved Prime Minister is ‘in the gun’ for repeatedly pulling the hair of a waitress (and this after she’d asked him not to) … (tut)!
Boys will be boys; and the boy in question* has signed up to send NZ troops to Iraq “to train the locals“. In one word (and I challenge anyone anywhere to refute it) —
NOW HERE’S YOUR DIGGER:
He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the R.S.L.,
Telling stories of the past..
Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his mates;
They were heroes, every one.
And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbours
His tales became a joke,
All his mates listened quietly
For they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
For ol’ Jack has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer—
For a Digger died today.
He won’t be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won’t note his passing,
‘Tho a Digger died today.
When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.
The Media tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Digger
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some smoothie who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?
The politician’s stipend
And the style in which they live,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that they give.
While the ordinary Digger,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.
It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever-waffling stand?
Or would you want a Digger
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Digger,
Who would fight until the end?
He was just a common Digger,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.
For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Digger’s part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honour
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:
“OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A DIGGER DIED TODAY.”
It’s a wee bit lengthy for my tastes but I guess it will resonate with some; certainly it rang this cynical old bell (and for those who don’t know, RSL is Australian for RSA).
(Oops, RSA is kiwi for Returned Services Association. An association which (I’m told) these days opens its doors to anyone willing to cough up the fees—genuinely qualified people seem to be going/gone the way of the Digger.)
* Just in passing, this is the same Prime Minister currently pushing a boat out (flying a kite~!) on the topic of ‘reforming’ our national flag. Don’t fret, it happens every few years—win or lose they reliably always score a lot of free publicity by it. (And they haven’t won yet …)
(Sadly I neglected to get a source for that image—I think it was the New Zealand Herald)
for the ancient and
or should that be ‘for the modern’? Mix ‘n’ match? (Moot point, let’s move briskly on)—
I LIKE TO SPEND MY TIME
loitering in graveyards with a camera. I often think that the cemetery would be the ideal suburb—no rowdy parties, no barking dogs, the best ‘socially adapted’ neighbours any contemplative sort could ever wish for.
the older Winton cemetery last week I happened across a new grave. They don’t do ‘new’ there any more, recent arrivals (departures?) are popped into the new cemetery some miles out of town. All very regimented and characterless … but the new-in-old intrigued so I strolled over, to find this—
—which in itself raises a few poignant questions. Obviously previous claims on space are still being honoured … I like that.
Then without touching I looked more closely at the dangling decorations—
—and that globular thing looks a lot like quartz crystal; which got me to thinking.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN
a year of two since erection, but in all that time and through all the weathers … in a somewhat vandal-prone gravery, there’s been no light-fingered louts practising their trade or otherwise amusing themselves.
Why? Why not?
Are grave robbers an extinct species now?
Or are the tough loutish types frightened of vengeance from beyond —might the good Carmel descend in a cloud of brimstone by night and fairly crank them up a bit?
Certainly the lady’s treasured treasures should attract the eye of passing human magpies, or vultures.
She simply hasn’t been dead long enough.
At some point the respected and revered deads suddenly become not people but objects. Various museums around the world are stuffed with them for gawping at—hell, at one stage British Rail even used them as fuel. Mummies were logs, and cheaper than wood or coal (minced up they made a damn’ fine medicine too …)
The Nazis made a killing yanking gold out of the mouths of millions of still warm not-babes (Sonderkommando, or whatever they called it). (Images here are courtesy of Google’s pics—click an image-link to go to the an informational entry).
SO HOW LONG
must one be interred before one can decently be considered no longer human, but a thing? Does a corpse lose all rights the very moment the spirit leaves the flesh? Ten minutes later? Ten years, ten decades, or ten centuries later?
IF I WERE
to take up a shovel and rope off Miss Carmel’s grave, dig it up, take the contents and rush her remains to some city for ‘scientific investigation’ and display … I’d be growled at.
Yet we (we? Oh well …) do it all the time. The rot really set in when Carter and his merry men burgled the late King Tut; ‘science’ gave it a veneer of respectability and justification.
SO AT SOME POINT
a cut-off is reached, no? Again I ask: at what point is a ‘late’ no longer a human being (okay, an ‘ex’ … but I get your point) but an object?
AT WHAT POINT
could someone decently remove Miss Carmel’s possessions and take them home? Certainly she isn’t going to get in anyone’s way. By being deceased and unable to noisily object she already qualifies to a degree—but where is the actual line drawn?
It’s a question of when the last of the predictable objectors have likewise lost interest—which happens to all with the passing of time. Some of my favourite cartoons include patient vultures out on a limb.
In the meantime in future I shall frequently visit Miss Carmel’s last resting place* and keep track of those ‘grave goods’. Should they disappear between visits I’ll let you know …
(well and truly)
* Peter Sellers (UK comedian) did a radio sketch on this, something to the lines of the local council wanting to use part of a cemetery to reroute some drains …
To an impromptu tune—
“… please, Mate,
don’t dig up poor ol’ Grandpa’s graaaave …”
OR ANY OFFENCE
intended, none at all.
Led by insatiable curiosity I wander sometimes into murky waters. With a lifetime’s experiences of human nature (and the consequent disillusionments) I question lots. By which I mean almost everything, no matter the source. Much of what I accepted with starry eyes in younger years has been proven to be manipulations, distortions of fact, and face it: porkies.
IN THE COURSE
of watching a Dvd on battleships last night I was tempted to acquire a slightly deeper knowledge so researched a bit on the web, and of course the below image inevitably came up (it’s an active link, by the way—should take you to an expandable photo).
This shot makes me uneasy.
Sure, I know all the ‘givens’ … but despite the fact that the Zero was a nimble little thing, high speed, very agile and all that—I’m uneasy.
Okaaaaay: other ‘givens’ include things like it was an active battle scene. No?
So why is there no evidence of anti-aircraft fire, no shell cases all over the place, no noticeable smoke/fumes? No frantic gobs running around doing heat-of-battle things?
Why are these guys mostly seemingly completely unaware of the approaching plane?
Are they human, or superhuman—I know that if I were about to be clobbered by an incoming anything I’d be clawing a hole through the deck or at least seeking some form of shielding. Even the chap nonchalantly reading his clipboard would hold it up as a wishful shield …
So did a whole hostile Zero sneak by everyone (the fleet, the lookouts, gunnery directors, radar, everyone on the uppers) then creep up and clobber Missouri without anyone (r) anyone noticing, other than one alert photographer?
AS AN ACTION PHOTO
capturing a moment of history the shot’s a beauty. It has scored an iconic place in photographic history, and well it should …
So why does it make me a bit squeamish? In case you missed it, the link to that photo:
—and I hope you can accept it on face value, and point out where I may be wrong. (Dammit—I want to be wrong!)
for a serious and/or objective look at life? Overdue, actually. So, a home truth to begin with—
miracles aside: if you don’t sow you don’t reap
—and reaping these days is best done by the people who know how:
- how to sow
- how to nurture
- how to reap-harvest-store-process
etc and so on. All good boring stuff—and if you haven’t twigged yet I’m not babbling grain here, I’m on about education.
I WOULD LIKE
to see an ‘elitist’ system in place. An aristocracy of merit, in fact—of academic merit. A merit where the rewards are earned and duly go to the people whose hard work and talents combine to help them come up trumps.
IN MY IDEAList WORLD
state-funded schools/colleges would have but one requirement for entry, that all aspirants sit a strictly monitored examination—and only the top (passing) scorers gain places on the rolls (if there are three hundred vacancies the top three hundred are accepted to fill them— IF the school wishes to) end of story.
IT DOESN’T MATTER
if the aspirant is from a minority group. Being black, being female, being a gay lesbian homosexual Islamic Jewish Hindu Christian Asian Seventh Day Apoplexist White spider-farming goat-grooming … whatever … is totally irrelevant; neither grounds for exlusion nor for preferential admission.
here is simply scores and demonstrated abilities. And the opinion of the school itself (very important); no compulsions either way.
So much for the public purse … how about private education?
HERE IT GETS BETTER
Because the big-buck rules supreme. As it should.
Face it, education is a productive process and an educated being is an output. A product. Commercial …
And now we’re looking at competition. Schools and colleges will be competing for the rich man’s buck—and the one(s) that deliver what he wants will get pick his plums. No?
So the dynastic American politician types will continue going to Harvard and Yale and the likes to establish their networks for future years, and good luck to them. The Brits have been doing it for centuries, it seems to work—but this post is intended for the poor saps with children who only want the best for their whelps.
THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION
is too important to be left in the hands of the state, or the Greenies, or Womens’ Lip, or the endless Save-The-Polar-Bear types. In New Zealand I read a recent article to the effect that it will cost Mr and Mrs Joe Average over thirty-five thousand kiwi dollars per child for the state mandated free education.
This fuzzy snippet below is from the New Zealand Herald—
I apologise for the fuzzies but that’s how it was in the original. As for ‘fees’ mentioned in the above, free schools supplied by the state here in NZ often don’t charge fees but they do ‘request’ a ‘donation’, and they (equally to all, mind) suggest the amount. Kids whose parents object or otherwise don’t cough up on ‘request’ get pilloried.
Schools should be entirely free (meaning at liberty) to do as they please: dress how they want (uniforms if so desired), teach what they want (‘culture’, anybody?), charge what they want and accept as students only whom they want. And of course, equally the
victi customers should by law be entirely free to attend whatever school they wish (of their own free choice) and can afford, that desires them.
WHAT BROUGHT THIS ON?
a) living in ‘free’ New Zealand, and
b) the article (American) I quote below:
Two years ago, an activist group filed a complaint against Fairfax County with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that the admissions process at TJ High discriminates against blacks, Hispanics and the poor.
read full article: click here
It actually gets better—
Thomas Jefferson High is a meritocracy where the ideological dictates of “diversity” do not apply. Second, Asian students, based either on nature or nurture, heredity or environment, or both, are, as of today, superior in the hard sciences to other ethnic groups.
But don’t read it if you hold any form of ‘supremacist’ beliefs. It may rattle your cage, or better: make you think.
EDUCATING A CHILD
is a form of sowing. And as previously stated, short of miracles you don’t reap without sowing. The first step I’d teach the young? Critical Thinking …