Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 6 February 2010

The Undersong

"I heard the air, though not the undersong"

This quote comes from the poem “The Tomb of Lt John Learmonth, AIF.”
Apart from the fact that Manifold’s work is a brilliant piece of contemporary Australian writing, he also uses the term “undersong” in a very striking way.
“Undersong” refers to the subordinate and underlying meaning of a song or poem.

Examining the work of my fellow bloggers to detect their undersong would be an interesting exercise.

Let’s start with Boy on a Bike. His theme is cycling, but it isn’t difficult to detect that BOAB has a clear and defined view of how the world should work, and is less than chuffed when he observes situations that contradict this outlook. I put it down to the fact that he’s ex-military. A few years in uniform trains the mind (and the outlook) to admire good order and discipline, and that can’t be a bad thing, especially when you’re riding a bike through the congestion and chaos that’s called Sydney.

So BOAB’s undersong is about defying chaos and applauding order.

Somewhere in there is a major regard for family – but he hides it well.

Kev Gillett is also ex-military, but he acts more as a facilitator. He makes it possible for random spruikers like me to let off steam, and does so in an even-handed manner, although his own views are out there for all to see. Because he stands back and lets it all rip, Kev ends up with some very spirited (and entertaining) discussions. His capacity for organization and his concern for his 7RAR brethren also shine through.

His blog is one of the better organised examples of the genre in cyberspace.

CafĂ©-Grendel is all about Coffee. That’s a noble calling (being a Barista – just ask my youngest daughter) so it’s worth a visit if you’re into beverage appreciation. I am.

The undersong is difficult to detect, but I get the flavour (pun??) of a concern about disability support and ethical marketing in there somewhere.

With Kae (Bloodnut Blog), what you sees is what you gets, but I’m sure I can identify a frustrated political journalist. She doesn’t muck about when it comes to direct and clear use of words.

Cav, like me, came across from Telstra Bigblogs. It just took him a little longer to lose patience with that clunky setup.

His undersong, in my opinion is about cars, especially big Fords. He's also ex-infantry, and this comes through.

And so it goes.

But back to Manifold. He was an interesting bloke. He went to Geelong Grammar and Cambridge, can be called an ex-Communist, served in WW2, married a Pom and settled in Brisbane, and remains one of the few Australian war poets to be successfully published.

I like him because he was subversive in the sense that he was unafraid to have a go at national complacency. His work is gritty, and has an unmistakably Australian flavour. And he settled in Brisbane, the best part of this great state, with the possible exception of either Longreach or Herberton.

I'd like to live in Longreach in the dry and Herberton in the wet. In these parts, Winter and Summer are meaningless constructs.

Do yourself a favour and read “The Tomb of Lt John Learmonth AIF”. Preferably aloud. There is music in the language and the theme is uplifting.

No Australian home should be without a copy of the book illustrated.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Blot Wimps it (Again)


Andrew Bolt has squibbed it again. He posted an indignant piece about the media’s treatment of Lord Monkton, but isn’t happy to have his hypocrisy exposed.

He didn’t like the use of an unflattering image.

Fair enough – they did take the piss. Having said that, I found Bolt’s feigned outrage a bit hard to take when you consider the range of images he posted last year when he was objecting to people claiming Aboriginal heritage whom he considered not “black” enough. He’d scoured images to find fair-skinned Aboriginal people to make a point that that unless your skin is black, you don’t “deserve” to be considered indigenous.

In other words, it’s OK for Andrew to post a set of images reinforcing a stereotypical view of aboriginal identity, but it’s not OK for other media types to use stereotyping when dealing with Monkton.

When I pointed this out his moderators snipped it.

Note that my image is not the one used by Blot - just something scanned from the Courier Mail. I'll ignore the fact that it's not all that flattering. I did my best.....

From this, it can be deduced that Bolt expects a different set of rules to apply to him, different from those he applies to other members of the media. His arrogance is breathtaking.

He’s also not prepared to debate his position. That makes him a wimp as well as a hypocrite.

Monsoon in the West





On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I headed westward again for the first time in 2010 to work in Roma and district.

I was looking forward to this trip for a number of reasons - one of them being that for the first time, my bride was accompanying me, and it was her reintroduction to paid employment after three years of “retirement”.
Jupiter Pluvius delivered a set of surprises.

The remains of Cyclone Olga blended with a front from the west, and they seem to have met up somewhere close to Roma.

We set out in two different vehicles. A new fleet car was mistakenly delivered to Warwick instead of Roma, and I was asked if I’d take it to Roma. The shiny bums in Q Fleet in Brisbane (or the distributors in Hyundai in Brisbane) obviously operate without benefit of a map, or a basic knowledge of geography. This was the first time I’d ever been asked to do this, and it meant we’d be travelling in different vehicles – not the best result.

My bride is not a confident long-distance driver, and the conditions were horrendous – B doubles carrying grain with about 300metres of spray following – but she came through with flying colours. Being one of eleven with five brothers probably prepares you for a range of challenges.

Once in Roma, conditions didn’t improve. We overcame the minor hassles of inside-out umbrellas, ankle-deep mud, and soggy files and equipment, and completed our school visits. We then attempted to drive back to the office to write reports and begin some follow-up.

The weather gods had other ideas. What started as a drive to the office ended up as a rescue operation. Bungil Creek had broken its banks, and the area where the fleet vehicles were parked was rapidly flooding. Because it’s possible to drive only one car at a time, all spare staff were rounded up to move the cars to higher ground. By this time the soil was so sodden that it had turned to mud. I discovered that Hyundai Santa Fes handle sticky mud much better than Holden Captivas. It’s got something to do with the way the traction control is programmed. Neither are genuine four wheel drives, despite the labels.

It rained most of the night, and my bride was unable to get to Injune, where she had work that morning. Apart from the fact that the road was dodgy, the school was severely disrupted as many of the teachers weren’t able to get to work because of rising creeks.

My second days work in town was much like the first, and by the time the day was through I had given up trying to stay dry, and my shoes were coming apart. In a funny way it reminded me of patrolling in Vietnam in the monsoon, where after a while you stopped caring whether you were wet or dry. The difference was that in Vietnam it didn’t matter how you looked – here it did. It’s difficult to give a good impression with hair plastered everywhere, and your shoes tied around your neck by their laces.

By Wednesday, the weather had lifted a bit, and we were able to return east via the Surat Development road (where we had work to do in schools along the way) without getting our feet wet.

As I write this, I am listening to local ABC describing further local flooding at Roma after another deluge overnight. There are minor evacuations and the SES is on the job.

I asked my bride whether she had enjoyed the trip. I had, after all, been explaining how hot and dry it was out west. She mumbled something about an “adventure”, but was smiling when she said it, so I guess she doesn’t think I’m completely barmy.

One of pics was taken in town - the other (the horses) much further west near Eromanga. I didn't take either of them - Roma office staff did and posted them for all to share.

I wasn't risking my camera in that lot.


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