Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Marriage is a match made in metaphorical heaven.

Germaine Greer recently announced to the world that marriage is an outmoded institution. Germaine is one of my feminist heroes but sometimes I disagree with her. Perhaps what she meant to say was that by now marriage SHOULD have become outmoded. Wishful thinking!

I'm also a fan of, bless 'im, Jeremy Irons who recently made a ludicrous statement on equal marriage. It was something to do with English inheritance laws; that if same sex marriage was legal, then a father and son would be able to marry and avoid paying inheritance tax. Sometimes fame makes people a little crazy.

Most people would agree that marriage is far from outmoded, though statistics do tell us that the number of people actually getting married has reduced significantly in the past fifty years which has coincided with a sharp rise and then drop in the divorce rate.

Marriage is less prevalent among low income earners and an obvious reason for this may be the prohibitive cost of a wedding celebration (especially if you are a regular divorcee) and the fact that, in this country, it is of no financial benefit to actually get married.

In Australia, the decline of Christian religions may contribute to the drop in numbers and may also be linked to a change in social attitudes.

I am not a big fan of Prime Minister Julia Gillard but I do admire the way she has used her brain to achieve some big successes. She is in a defacto relationship and is an atheist too and has become a role model for working class women, being from a working class background with a very strong and much maligned working class accent.

Now, of course, money is no object to Ms.Gillard but why get married and spoil an all round good thing? Although, one might argue, that for all intensive purposes, Ms. Gillard is in fact married; married to the Labor Party and her hairdresser; a match made in metaphorical heaven as her ever improving coiffure demonstrates.

May be she refuses to support marriage equality because she doesn't actually believe in marriage itself. Perhaps, like Germaine, she thinks marriage is an outmoded, archaic form of enslavement.


Marriage in so very many different forms has served so very many different purposes and it all depends on your definition.

Marriage has been grafted into my psyche as an integral part of our society, culture and religion. It is neither necessary or unnecessary.  Marriage just is and until it disappears from our culture altogether, people of all sexual orientations will want to get married so, now that our society has moved beyond outmoded rigid concepts, why exempt whole sections of society?

Something often overlooked is that most of the time, marriage also involves the adoption of the other's family, whether it be children, exes or extended family. The adoption of 'others' is important because therein lies the essence of marriage as community. Someone once joked that there are never just two of you in a marriage but also everyone who has influenced you and loved or hated you throughout your whole life, including those collected while you were married!

The living of marriage can be really difficult but at its best can be a merging in love, growth and unified goals. It doesn't mean you lose your individuality which is why the biggest challenge to relationships arises from an inability to compromise. Neither does it mean, in this country at least, that you become enslaved to your partner.

Marriage is simply a life-long relationship with your best friend and their friends and family and your friends and family and the whole community!

It took me thirty six years to soften my attitude toward David's parents and to start calling them Mum and Dad. A lot of water has flowed under that bridge and I guess now they really are my mum and dad too. 

It's taken us all our married lives to almost understand what it means to be married and it wouldn't surprise me if some, on their death beds say as they look into their partner's eyes, 'Oh, so that's what it's all about!'  

We're now definitely reaping the benefits. Actually, there have been benefits all along. Sure, much of the time we drive each other bonkers. Bonkers seems to be a big part of it but the negatives are acceptable too because now, there is an incredibly solid base to go from.  Pretty sure if you asked him he'd say the same thing using different words with more about food. Here's a picture of David making his food face.

This is a rewrite of a previous post in which I wrote a lot about God and sacrament but that only means something to those who have religion. 

Some choose to remain single and not get married. Going solo suits a lot of people but the fact remains they do have a choice. At any point, as long as the right person comes along, they can choose to get married but imagine how it must feel to be shut out of that community of marriage. One would feel excluded, unwanted and unloved by the community. I believe that everyone has a right to be accepted and loved in community.

It doesn't always work out for couples. The fact is there are no guarantees in life. Sometimes people become violent and abusive and though we've all lost our cool and said things in anger, violence is never acceptable.

Marriage and community are inextricably linked. All members of a community share in a marriage and the state of that union has an ongoing ripple effect within it.

Marriage is the beginning of a family. Families are the beginning of community and as my friend Jean has a want to say, 'I love youse all!'.

Shakespeare does Anzac Day.

 About twenty years ago I toured Normandy by bus with my mother and youngest sister.

We were somewhat disappointed to find the France of Normandy was not the France of our dreams. It looked nothing like the pictures we had seen of the Cote d'azure or the Loire Valley and I have lingering impressions of  a cheap tour, shoddy 'industrial estate' accommodation and ordinary, fast food. All my life I had looked forward to French cuisine but sadly 'cuisine' it was not.

There were, however, some interesting surprises between naps.

The flat monotonous landscape was suddenly broken by a beautiful medieval village built on a pointy rock jutting out of the sea and sand. It was, of course, Mont Saint Michel, entrenched in my school girl memory from the poem 'Lepanto' by G K Chesterton. 
"...St. Michael's on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north 
     (Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
     Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
     And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
     He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
     The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
     The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
     And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
     And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
     And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
     And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,--
     But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
     Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
     Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
     Trumpet that sayeth ha!
         Domino gloria!
     Don John of Austria
     Is shouting to the ships."

We climbed to the abandoned cathedral at the pinnacle of the rock and suddenly I realized where we were. 'It's St. Michael!' I said to my mother along with the first few lines of the poem. We stood in awe, with tears in our eyes and recited it together as we gazed at the golden angel atop the spire.

'Lepanto' was written in 1915, a year into the First World War. St.Michael's statue had watched Don John of Austria's ships going to fight the 'infidel' at Lepanto in 1571. G K Chesterton drew parallels between the two wars.

Saint Michael watched again as World War 2 descended on France in 1939 and not far away, in 1944, allied troupes began their assault on Normandy.

From Mont Saint Michel our bus took us to Omaha Beach. There was much nap time between stops but I do remember saying to my sister 'A military cemetery? Why would I want to visit a military cemetery? Don't you know those places glorify war? Don't you know war is about the exploitation of the poor and the oppressed? I don't want to glorify obscene massacres!'

I sat at the back of the bus, a conscientious objector, determined not to participate. I decided to have a nice rest while the others walked along rows of death, taking photos like obedient little American propaganda puppets. 'Have a nice day!' I shouted and as they disembarked mother wagged her finger at me.

Finding a book in my suitcase I began to read but after a while I became restless and peered through the window to see where my mother and sister were. A row of perfectly trimmed cypress trees blocked the view. So, I decided to go for a walk and use the opportunity to, at least, stretch my legs.

A short pathway meandered along manicured lawns which led to an impressive curved colonnade with a large brass statue at its centre. Curious, I stood in front of it and read the inscription along it's rim.

 "This embattled shore, portal of freedom, is forever hallowed by the ideals, the valor and the sacrifices of our fellow countrymen." 

Hmmm. Quite well written I thought and stood there for a moment absorbing its meaning and then...as I turned... a sea of thousands of startlingly white crosses lay before me; each one the grave of a fallen soldier. The sight of those many acres of crosses, planted in well manicured lawns, filled me with awe and I found myself quietly brushing away tears.

One grave in particular tugged at my heart. The inscription read,  'Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God'. 


For the next hour or so I wandered among those humble monuments, feeling grief for those who lost their lives, while struggling with many worrying and contradictory thoughts. I was sharply aware that the atmosphere of  peaceful silence at Omaha Beach cemetery, engendered by simple, ordered rows of white crosses, neatly trimmed gardens and respectful people, lay in stark contrast to the bloody and chaotic suffering of soldiers who were slaughtered as they landed and fought there on June 6th 1944. That awful day, many young men and boys became the fodder of guns and canons. It was, indeed, a place of massacre.

Into the Jaws of Death: Troops from the U.S. 1st Infantry Division landing on Omaha Beach – photograph by Robert F. Sargent 

 Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Vierville-sur-Mer, in France 6th June 1944

I've told this story many times in the past twenty years and I still think of it each Anzac Day. It isn't that I now condone war but rather that I've experienced something new about the complexity of being human. What strikes me most, is how little we seem to have learnt from the history of wars gone by. 

Recently I watched a program called 'Shakespeare Uncovered' in which Jeremy Irons hosts an exploration of  Shakespeare's plays: Henry 1V and Henry V.

These plays tell the story of a battle fought during the One Hundred Years War between France and England. YES. France and England were at war for one hundred years! That's how enormously stupid we humans can be.

At the end of the program, Jeremy walks through the countryside and says something like: 'Four hundred years ago Shakespeare wrote two plays about the horror of war. He told the story of a battle fought between the French and the English in 1415 at a place in France called Agincort, which is not far from here.

At Agincort, thousands of French and English peasant soldiers, spilled their blood for the ambitions of their kings. They were cut down, drowned in the mud and trampled by their fellow soldiers and horses.' Then he turns a corner and walks through a sea of white crosses. '...and in four hundred years it would seem to me, we have learnt very few lessons about war.'

The Battle of Agincort by Donato Giancola


I met up with my mother and sister at Omaha Beach later that day and they poked fun at my tears. When I tried to explain the complexity of my response my sister said 'Oh, you just can't admit it. You were wrong!' Well, I guess in a way I was wrong. I now understand the value of visiting such places and that it can be a powerful and moving experience. My visit to Omaha Beach ( Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Vierville-sur-Mers ) was emotive and disturbing and served to enhance and broaden my overall understanding and appreciation of the impact of war and our various global psychological and political responses to it. 

What amazes me is that we do forget so easily that war is an all encompassing violation and tragedy that effects many, many thousands of people directly and the rest of us indirectly. Despite the fact that we've all witnessed the horror of recent wars on our screens, our leaders still send young and old people alike, to die on foreign battlefields of misery. 

And now, some countries are vying to equip themselves with nuclear weapons, supposedly to arm themselves for a war that no-one, no country, no government or ruler can possibly win. If one country is nuked, then we're all nuked. Why are we destined to keep repeating this nonsensical horror and how can we stop it before it wipes out the human race and probably most other species as well? Why are we not asking ourselves these questions and why aren't we all voting for policies of peace and disarmament?

Why aren't our governments modelling our countries on those with strong policies on peace, non-violence, disarmament, human rights ( along with other species ) and the Earth as our life support system. Those countries that have these tenets enshrined in their constitutions and/legislation are the most prosperous, healthy and happy countries in the world. Surely that's something for all Earthings to aspire to and definitely something we should all contemplate on ANZAC Day.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Hangin' with the Senator!

Hi there friendlies.

This is me tonight, hangin' with Richard Di Natale, Greens Senator for Victoria.
What a blast to be able to converse with the Senator one on one.

I had to be tough on poor visitors and made sure the good man was spared long tirades but he was very generous with his time and answered questions about the emissions trading scheme through to what the strategy is for the federal election.

Know what he said? He said talk to people about why you vote Green. Tell them your story, with respect of course. No problemo! I tell the story as often as I possibly can.

Now away with you all and spread the good news! Vote Green people!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sassy and sacked!

When I go to the hairdressers I have to brace myself  for hours of  inane conversation (mine), with a head wrapped in foil and up to its neck in plastic and a face staring back at me that ain't what it used to be. Hours it takes from casually mixing the colour to finally picking up the hairdryer.

If my hairdresser hadn't been doing my hair for twenty years and if she didn't know how to work magic on these faded locks, I'd never go there ever again... never, ever.

We've had our differences over the years, my hairdresser and I, like the time I tried to convince her to use natural hair dyes and products and you'd think I'd given her arsenic to drink. She tried the dye but simply would not countenance the shampoos and conditioners. I did visit another hairdresser but soon returned with my tail between my legs, defeated by the enemy's lack of expertise. In the end, worn and vanquished, I resigned to the fact that every six weeks I'd spend a bleak three hours coated in carcinogenic chemicals whilst staring at my own mortality.

 Nothing has changed at my hairdressers in the past twenty years, except the premises and the staff. Wouldn't you think, in the 21st C they'd come up with a gadget that automatically does hair.

For a while the place was staffed with sassy little red lipped, seamless skinned whippets, pretending to sweep up the floor hair or lounging in the gossip room where they made utterly undrinkable coffee. (How hard is it to make coffee I ask?)

But now it is suddenly more bearable with just my old hairdresser and me and a few clients chatting quietly. Day time TV still pervades so I take out my frustration on a few cross words in the crossword. (pun)

Where did the young whippets go I hear you ask? Afraid it was all my fault. I was having a discussion about drugs and tattoos, as one does, and was explaining in great detail why I detest them both when to my surprise they all said in unison 'We have tattoos!'.

I was embarrassed for putting my foot in it but before I had the chance to rectify my gaff  they all said '...and we all take party drugs!'

Well that certainly stopped me in my trackies! 'Everyone does.' said the whippet pack leader casually. 'They're cheap and fun and parties are boring without them.' Okkayyy....' I said.

Pretty sure all the clients were shocked into silence and I sat there for a moment worrying about a generation of casual drug users who appear to have no sense of where their boundaries should lie. They appeared to have no shame!  (Though I must admit, when I was young I certainly guzzled my fair share at parties but I was never one for drugs and the only drug I ever came across was a bit of grass or whatever they call it now.)

There followed not an embarrassed silence but rather a happy exchange of drugged out anecdotes. The only way to spend a weekend (and probably some week nights too, one would assume.) is to get high.

I was perturbed and a little sad. All that glorious youth, health, energy and sassy whippetness but not a brain between them nor any fun to be had without drugs. I do feel very relieved that both my children swear they don't take drugs though I'm sure they do have the odd tipple or two. There is a God!

Anyway, I digress. Six weeks later, having braced myself yet again for said unpleasantness, I was surprised to find my hairdresser there on her own, with only one polite little cherub who was ACTUALLY sweeping the floor hair. 'Having a quiet day?' I asked but to my surprise hairdresser told me that she had down sized her business and would be working alone from now on.
On further discussion she finally told me that after the day when, in front of her clients, all whippets admitted to regularly taking drugs, she had decided to work on her own and asked them all to leave. 'A line had been crossed' she said and they all got the sack!

Fair enough too. And the moral to that story is: If you're stupid enough to take drugs, never admit it openly at your place of work or to clients or customers....unless you're in rehab!

Go hairdresser!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Psycho weather girl goes lady ga ga and tells the truth!!

Going gaga? Then you're probably having a sane reaction to an insane world! You know what's totally barking? Doing nothing about climate change! It's suicidal, deranged and criminal! Going nuts about anthropogenic climate change is a completely appropriate response to global lunacy. Here's one such 'you go weather girl'. Now everybody repeat after me...I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! Call a general strike...a global strike! Do something before it's too late! Oh and don't forget to vote Green.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Future Trading Schemes.

If, like the rest of us, you have been concerned about the Australian participation in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme because of recent reports that the price of greenhouse gas emissions permits in Europe has sunk to $3 a ton, then this article will cheer you up....and God knows...we could all do with a little cheering up. That's for sure!



Fairy Penguins Saved by Dogs!


Good to see so many friendly faces at the Pavillion Cafe with Greg Barber Greens MP and then later at the Middle Island Penguin Colony talk run by CoastCare and The Warrnambool City Council. 

Greg came all the way to Warrnambool for the occasion. (The train was held up for two hours in Geelong! We really must do something about our public transport! ) Greg is generous with his time and always great value! He had a great day, apart from the delay, and said that the penguin project made a very pleasant change from city issues!

The penguins, which are guarded by Maremma dogs, live on Middle Island near the breakwater for a 6 month breeding season. Since the Maremmas have been guarding them against foxes and domestic dogs, the numbers have increased from around 10 to 190. Such a beautiful program!  

Lisa Owen