Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Dust of Uruzgan





Reviewing music performance is a novelty for this humble blogger, but I'll  give it a crack.

You, gentle reader, can give me some indication of whether I should do it again. 

A little while ago, my bride and I went to a local concert by Fred Smith, of "Dust of Uruzgan" fame. This bloke has led an interesting life, and he was interviewed on Richard's Fidler's Conversation programme, which piqued my bride's interest.

I had heard and enjoyed his music, so off we went.

He delivers a pared back, low key performance. He is a competent musician, and a great story teller, rendered both through his lyrics and on-stage patter.

He also has an eye for irony and the bitter contradictions of modern anti-insurgency warfare. Much of what he covered had eerie echos of Vietnam.

The stories are stark and the metaphors vibrant. Whilst the delivery was laid back, the content wasn't. 

I'd recommend both his live performance, and the CD of the same name.

If there is no other reason for buying it, remember that a proportion of the proceeds are directed to Mates4Mates, a very worthy cause.

Below are the lyrics.

Dust of Oruzgan

In the ring they called me “Warlord”, my mother calls me Paul
You can call me Private Warren when your filing your report
As to how I came to be here, this is what I understand
In this hospital in Germany from the Dust of Uruzgan

I had just turned 28, just bought a new car
When I joined the first Battalion of the Big 1 RAR
We were next up for deployment into south Afghanistan
To combat the insurgence in the Dust of Uruzgan

It took seven months of training just to get into the joint
There were pushups and procedures there was death by Powerpoint
Then the RSOI course in Ali Al Salaam
But nothing can prepare you for the Dust of Uruzgan

Me and Benny sat together flying into Kandahar
Sucked back on our near beers in the Camp Baker Bar
Then up at 0530 we were on the Herc and out
In twenty flying minutes we were in to Tarin Kowt

We shook hands as the boys RIPped out from MRTF 1
And pretty soon were out patrolling in the Afghan summer sun
Walking through the green zones with a Styer in my hand
Body armor chafing through the dust of Uruzgan

We started up near Chora working 14 hours a day
Mentoring a Kandak from the Afghan 4th brigade
Down through the Baluchi into eastern Dorafshan
Working under open skies in the dust of Uruzgan

It’s a long way from Townsville not like any place you’ll see
Like suddenly you’re walking through from the 14th century
Women under burkhas, tribal warlords rule a land
Full of goats, and huts and jingle trucks is the Dust of Uruzgan

And the Education minister can neither read nor write
And the Minister for Women runs the knock shop there at night
They’ve been fighting there for ever over water, food and land
Murdering each other in the Dust of Uruzgan

There’s nothing about this province that’s remotely fair or just
But worse than the corruption is the endless fucking dust
It’s as fine as talcum powder on the ground and in the air
And it gets in to your eyes and it gets in to your hair

And it gets in to your weapon and it gets in to your boots
When bureaucrats all show up here it gets in to their suits
It gets in the machinery and foils every plan
There’s something quite symbolic ‘bout the Dust of Uruzgan

Still the people can be gracious and they’re funny and their smart
And When the children look into your eyes they walk into your heart
They face each day with courage and each year without a plan
Beyond scratching for survival in the Dust of Uruzgan

But the Taliban are ruthless, keep the people terrorized
With roadside bombs and hangings and leaving letters in the night
And they have no useful vision for the children of this land
But to keep them praying on their knees in the Dust of Uruzgan

It was a quiet Saturday morning when the 2 Shop made a call
On a compound of interest to the east of COP Mashal
We had some information they were building IED’s
So we cordoned and we searched it in accord with SOPs

I was on the west flank picket, propped there with Ben
There to keep a watchful eye out while the other blokes went in
We looked for signs of danger from the TTPs we’d learned
But the Nationals were moving back and forth without concern

We’d been standing still for hours when I took a quick step back
Kicked a small AP mine and everything went black
Woke up on a gurney flat out on my back
Had to ask them seven times just to get the facts

That I lived to tell the story through a simple twist of fate
The main charge lay ten feet away from the pressure plate
You see the mine was linked by det chord to a big charge laid by hand
Hidden there under Benny by the Dust of Uruzgan

I was a Queensland champ Thai Boxer now I look south of my knee
And all I see is bed sheets were my right foot used to be
Benny’s dead and buried underneath Australian sand
But his spirit’s out their wandering through the Dust, the Dust of Uruzgan

Now I’m going back to Townsville it’s the city of my birth
Some go back to Ballarat and some go back to Perth
I’ll be living with my mother who’s still trying to understand
Why we’re spending blood and treasure in the Dust of Uruzgan

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Follow the Finns


This is worth a look, gentle reader, although it is obviously a gross over simplification.

The bottom line, when it comes to the success of the Finnish system, is that it is child/student centred.

The other feature of the Finnish system, is that education belongs to the teachers, not the politicians.

Oh, and there is no system mandated standardized testing (NAPALM NAPLAN).

We could learn a great deal from the Fins.....

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