Sole Sister

Cruising in the single lane

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Lest I forget

MY 1950s childhood home in the small western Queensland town of Dirranbandi was situated directly across from the local war memorial.

This gave me an early and inescapable introduction to the  rituals of  Anzac Day remembrance. Each 25th April I would be woken by the crunch of marching feet on gravel. Muffled prayers and hymns would filter through the darkness. Then, the piercing but shaky notes of the Last Post, played by the town’s once-a-year bugler, would echo across the dawn. Later the townsfolk would transform to their various citizen roles for the march. I felt so virtuous being part of it all in the white dress, veil and red cape of the Junior Red Cross. Each year the local RSL would sponsor a school Anzac commemoration essay competition. In my final year of primary school I was  the proud winner – an early hint of my career direction?

I realise now that the horrors of the the Second World War would have been very fresh in the memories of the adults who took part in those remembrance ceremonies, being less than 10 years since the cessation of hostilities. While only those who experienced war first-hand understand the reality I saw the distressing effect post traumatic stress had on two close family members who took part in bombing raids over Germany.  I had been concerned at what I saw as increasing jingoism in the remembrance of Anzac – a far cry from the simplicity of the Anzac I recalled – an issue commented on by a number of columnists in the lead-up to 25th April. One, Christopher Bantrick, suggested Anzac Day was “now the country’s annual nationalistic fix”.  He urged us to “rethink the heroic war message and disarm Anzac Day” and believes one way way to achieve this would be to expose children to anti-war poetry. Read the article here.

This year, for the first time in many years, I attended a dawn service, at Toowong Memorial Park. I’m happy to say that the significant crowd of young and old who gathered in the cool dawn air truly honoured  the sacrifice and memory of our war dead and wounded. No jingoism there…

IMG_0431Toowong rememberance


IMG_0442Ithaca – one of my favourite suburban war memorials

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What’s a memory

I recently heard an interview with the beloved Australian children’s book author Mem Fox in which she was asked which of all her books was her favorite.

She nominated Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. It tells of a little boy who lives next door to an old person’s home and befriends all the residents. When he hears his favourite resident Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper – who has four names just like him – has lost her memory he sets out to help her find it. His quest to understand the concept of memory affords each of the residents the opportunity to recall their own most precious life moments. The heartwarming illustrations of Julie Vivas endow poignancy.

When I was reading bedtime stories to my children some 30 years ago Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge was also my favourite. Each time I started reading the tears would start to well. In the interview Mem Fox  revealed that Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge was her father’s name. She said most adults she knew couldn’t read the book without tears coming to their eyes. But children took the touching tale in their stride. I can hardly wait until my grandson reaches the age where I can introduce him to Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge.

IMG_0419There was once a small boy….

IMG_0416What’s a memory?…Something from long ago, me lad.

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An Asia-Pacific cultural feast

WHAT a treasure Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct is.

Happily I’m well served for public transport access. I can catch a bus direct through the city to the Cultural Centre Busway Station; or a train to South Brisbane Station; or the wonderful CityCat to Southbank, a trip as fun as being a tourist in ones own city.

I love taking in live shows and concerts at the Performing Arts Centre, listening to fine arts lectures at the State Library, viewing exhibitions by Australian and world artists at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and catching up on Queensland’s natural and social history at the Queensland Museum.

The art galleries’ current offering is the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, the only major exhibition series in the world to focus exclusively on the contemporary art of Asia, the Pacific and Australia. The series has been running since 1993 so the current show is the seventh – APT7. The series’ focus is on the geography, history and culture of the region and the works filling both GOMA and the QAG show how latterday artists explore these subjects. Noting the end date of the exhibition was looming I hopped on CityCat last weekend to feast on this rich cultural banquet before it was too late.I’m tempted to go back for seconds.

IMG_0353The journey begins at Guyatt Park.

IMG_0367The QAG forecourt…part of a precious precinct.

IMG_0369Papua New Guinea cultural designs decorate traditional building.

IMG_0370Colourful PNG bilim bag made from rolled bark fibre string.

IMG_0375It’s a drum.


Yum! Sushi.

IMG_0397A wonderful spot from which to view Brisbane city.


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Argave it a go

I DO not have a green thumb. If there is a plant Heaven I will have contributed many of its occupants.

But I love house plants and was impressed by an argave grown by my cousin in a large glass candle jar full of water. This as rather clever as argaves are desert plants – from southern USA, Mexico and Central America – and  not keen on too much water I tried about a year ago to grow a jarred argave but instead ended up with a distinctly deceased specimen rotting in the water. Bravely I have tried again under long-distance tutelage from my cousin and, a month on, I have a healthy plant sprouting multiple roots in a tall glass jar. I’m not up to my cousin’s skill level yet but it’s looking promising.

Green shoots...My water-dwelling argave is taking root

Green shoots…My water-dwelling argave is taking root

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Bloggin’ in the 70s

DIGGING around in an old wooden chest this week I came across a pile of  scrap books my late father-in-law had created back in the 1960s and 70s. Neatly bound in maroon faux leather each book contains a treasure trove of memories of work, family life, leisure interests and travels.  An architect, my father-in-law was gifted with the pen and brought an eclectic eye to selecting scrapbook entries. They might be coasters from a restaurant, an invitation to an event, a photograph of fellow guests at a function, autographs, newspaper clippings, aircraft boarding cards, meeting agendas. But he especially loved to sketch, and enhance his sketches with watercolours, so turning the scrapbook pages is like strolling through an watercolour exhibition.

My father-in-law was an avid and adventurous traveler and those travels offered rich scrapbook source material. As early as the 1960s he was visiting Japan, rather a no-no at a time when the post-war hatred of that country remained palpable in Australia. The architecture and art of Japan, renowned worldwide for its sophisticated simplicity, in particular captured his imagination. He saw the Japanese house, with its ability through sliding doors to open up in summer and close down in winter, as the perfect house style for tropical Queensland. His travels also included southeast Asia including then-almost-unknown Bali, all richly depicted in the bound pages.

It occurs to me, as I become acquainted with the world of blogging, that these scrapbooks are rather like blogs, records and interpretations through the eye of a trained observer of people, places and events. From a family point of view the pages bear witness to the influence his life path had on following generations with pages noting travels in Hokkaido, in far northern Japan, in 1971. Were he still alive he would see his family now includes a granddaughter-in-law from Hokkaido and a part-Japanese great-grandson.

Ainu kimono scrapbook sketch from 1971 - Ainu are the indigenous inhabitants of Hokkaido

Ainu kimono scrapbook sketch from 1971 – Ainu are the indigenous inhabitants of Hokkaido