Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Sunday, 8 February 2009

All Gone!

Today our youngest left home to attend Uni in Brisbane.

She was up at 5.30am, and organised to the nth degree. She left with a song in her heart and her hopes and anticipation high.

She's the last of four to launch, a process that has taken about eight years in all.

Our home, which once sheltered six people, and was always full of noise, comings and goings, music, laughter, mess, argument and the accumulated detritus of young adults is now quiet, ordered and predictable.

I guess I should be grateful, but I will miss them.

Times have changed.

I left home at age thirteen to attend boarding school, and was in a job at fifteen. My dad, a product of the depression, wasn't happy when I resigned this job (a clerk in the Forestry Department) in March 1963, to become effective in December the same year.

To him it was security – to me boredom and drudgery. I left after a year and went back to school. I was able to do so, because I started school at four, and was always a year and a half younger than everyone else. Going back to school was the first (and best) real decision I ever made.

Back then, Uni was free, living was cheap, and choices were limited and life simpler as a result. Not so now. It's a tough road, as most need part time work to live, and living is not cheap. Many finish degree courses with a HECS debt rivaled only by the cost of getting into the housing market.

In that sense I don't envy them.

At least my sons didn't have to register for National Service and run the risk of being hauled halfway across the world to be shot at.

Funny thing is, I wouldn't begrudge a form of National Service, for both sexes, so long as it didn't involve compulsory military service in a war zone, unless of course the country was under direct threat.

That will never happen of course – the political risks are just too high.

For now – we're back to a situation we haven't experienced since 1983; the last time there were two of us in the house. I'm looking forward to it – but it really is bittersweet.


Boy on a bike said...

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Reserves, and often wish I had gone Regular for a spell.

But it is not something that I would wish on anyone unless they volunteered for it. Just a few weeks a year was tough - really tough, and I don't know how you guys slogged through a year of it on a two way range.

As much as I benefited personally from voluntary service, I've never been a fan of national service. You either feel the calling, or you don't.

The biggest benefit for me is that I have never really worried about anything since. The infantry took me to some dark places physically and mentally, and everything since that time has been a lark by comparison.

1735099 said...

I'd agree that time spent in the Infantry is a great preparation for life's vicissitudes,but I'm not so sure it has to be a calling.
Experience in (e.g.) Israel and Singapore would suggest that it can be made to work.

Boy on a bike said...

Israel and Singapore - Small countries with a fierce sense of nationalism and facing a threat of existential destruction (I don't think the Singaporeans like the Malasians or the Indo's very much).

When Australia was much smaller population-wise, and the external threats were palpable, it worked quite well. A cousin was a Nasho just after Korea, and he loved it - he's extremely proud of his service, and what it did for him. My great uncle had a 4 digit service number when he joined in WWI, and dad had a 5 digit number in WWII - that speaks volumes about the much smaller population.

I don't like National Service because I fear standards will be watered down to meet political ends - standards of training especially. There are just too many soft cocks in power these days. "Ooo, no, you can't teach them to use the bayonet - much too bloodthirsty" etc etc.

At least when you got your training, most of our federal MPs had seen service in WWII, and they presumably wouldn't stand for any pussyfooting around. Today's mob - very different.

1735099 said...

My dad enlisted in the RAAF in 1941 and ended up in New Guinea because he felt the country was threatened. Maybe young people today would behave in the same way if the threat was real.
"Political ends" cuts both ways. When the conflict has more to do with ideology than threat, and when returning soldiers are treated badly, as was the case after Vietnam, cynicism is a direct result.
What goes round comes round.

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